Daniel Bryan's WWE contract reportedly either expired or was set to expire last week following his Universal Championship match against Roman Reigns on SmackDown.
According to Fightful Select (h/t WrestlingInc.com's Marc Middleton), little is known of Bryan's situation aside from the fact that his contract was set to expire. It was noted that Bryan could have signed a new deal since then or could be willing to continue working for WWE without a contract.
Fightful Select also reported that there were no leaks regarding Bryan saying any farewells backstage as if he was leaving for good.
Per the stipulation of the match against Reigns, Bryan is no longer part of the SmackDown roster following his loss. As a result, Bryan was moved to the alumni section on WWE's website.
The 39-year-old Bryan has said some things lately that would lead one to believe that he may want to take some time off before either returning to WWE or wrestling elsewhere.
In an interview with Keisha Hatchett of TV Line last week, Bryan said his neck was "just wrecked" during his match against Reigns. Bryan has a history of neck injuries and has had neck surgery in the past.
Also, in a recent interview with BT Sport, Bryan said he felt "detached" during his match against Reigns and Edge in the main event of WrestleMania 37.
With regard to that feeling, Bryan added:
"Maybe it was a sign that it's time to let go of being a full-time wrestler. The odd detachment, I was like, 'Woah.' Like I said, I'm either gonna die [laughs] or maybe it's a sign that this isn't it and it isn't the same type of fulfillment that it was before. I've been trying to meditate on it and talk to my friends that I'm close with, like, 'What is that?' My contract is up relatively soon. I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing with my life."
Based on those comments, Bryan seems uncertain about his future in wrestling, at least as a full-time competitor. WWE has been willing to work with top stars in the past in terms of giving them favorable schedules, so perhaps it would be willing to do the same for Bryan.
Bryan's contract reportedly expiring is also sure to lead to speculation that he could go elsewhere, such as AEW, since the upstart company has signed many wrestlers who have departed WWE over the past two years.
The fact that Bryan is even wrestling at this point is remarkable since he was briefly forced into retirement in 2016 because of head injuries. Bryan was already an all-time great at that point, but he has added to his Hall of Fame resume since returning in 2018.
Overall, the four-time WWE champion and five-time world champion is one of the top stars WWE has to offer, and one can only assume WWE will go to great lengths to keep him if there is any inkling that he has interest in wrestling elsewhere.
WWE has a lot to offer in terms of money and a less-taxing schedule, plus it could work with Bryan and give him the opportunity to work with talent that he hasn't yet.
One thing that could possibly appeal to Bryan is a run in NXT, where he could have fresh matches against the likes of Finn Balor, Johnny Gargano, Kyle O'Reilly, Tommaso Ciampa, Timothy Thatcher, Walter, Pete Dunne and Kushida, among others.
Bryan will be highly sought-after by all wrestling promotions if he is indeed a free agent, meaning the leverage will be on his side when it comes to negotiating precisely what he wants for the remainder of his wrestling career.
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