Report: Daniel Bryan 'Could Legally' Go to AEW 'Next Week' After WWE Contract Expired

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 7, 2021

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Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Felix Upton of Ringside News) said Bryan could "legally show up next week on [All Elite Wrestling]" if he so chooses.

Wrestlers typically have 90-day non-compete clauses in their contracts after getting released by WWE, which prevents them from joining another company for three months, but since Bryan's contract reportedly expired, he isn't under the same restriction.

Fightful Select (h/t WrestlingInc.com's Marc Middleton) reported this week that Bryan's WWE contract expired after he lost to Roman Reigns in a Universal Championship match on SmackDown last week. The stipulation of that match was that Bryan would have to leave SmackDown in the event of a loss.

The stipulation may simply be a means of allowing Bryan to take some time off, as he is married with two children. He also told Keisha Hatchett of TV Line that his neck was "wrecked" going into the match against Reigns.

Since Bryan has a history of neck and head injuries, it might behoove him to take some time off before returning to the ring.

Meltzer said this week that Bryan would "probably" wrestle for New Japan Pro-Wrestling at its next Tokyo Dome show if not for the COVID-19 pandemic, but he also reported that the "door is still very much open" for him to return to WWE.

Also, Fightful Select (h/t Upton) reported that those within AEW who they spoke to "fully expect" Bryan to re-sign with WWE.

Bryan has been under contract with WWE since 2009, with the exception of a brief hiatus in 2010, and he has been pushed as one of the top Superstars in the company for much of that time, as evidenced by his five world title reigns.

The one thing that could possibly compel Bryan to sign with AEW or another company is the allure of new and fresh opponents, but WWE can offer that as well should Bryan have a run in NXT.

It remains to be seen where the 39-year-old veteran will end up, but he reportedly now has the freedom to go wherever he chooses, whether it's WWE, AEW or somewhere else.

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