Bryan Danielson Talks WWE's Reaction to AEW; WWE 2K22, NXT Rumors; MJF on Edge, Miz

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 8, 2021

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 20:  General manager of SmackDown Daniel Bryan poses for photographs during his visit to One World Observatory in advance of SummerSlam on August 20, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/Getty Images)
Brent N. Clarke/Getty Images

Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe and All Elite Wrestling.

Danielson's Thoughts on How WWE Reacted to AEW

AEW star Bryan Danielson believes WWE went too heavy on signing wrestlers during the initial rise of AEW.

In an interview with TV Insider's Scott Fishman, Danielson broke down the role he feels AEW played in WWE bloating its roster:

"I don't ever focus on if something didn't happen that already happened. But I think this is a natural reaction to what has gone on. What we do know is people who were paid regular contracts will not have them anymore. For WWE, I think there was an overreaction when AEW started.

"Even when Ring of Honor got real hot with Cody [Rhodes] and the Young Bucks, WWE felt they needed to sign up all the talent. They realized, 'our business is fine.' AEW is catching up. They've done incredible for a company that has been around for less than three years. WWE is still making a billion dollars, so they don't need to hoard all these talents."

It wasn't long ago that WWE had its biggest talent roster ever with hundreds of wrestlers under contract, which is a big reason why so many releases have occurred since last year.

Just this year alone, WWE has released nearly 80 in-ring performers. Even with all those cuts, WWE still has a large roster between Raw and SmackDown as well as NXT 2.0 and its developmental prospects.

It did seem at one time as if WWE was hoarding talent to prevent other wrestling promotions from getting them, and that continued when AEW officially launched in 2019.

Somewhere along the way, WWE was no longer concerned with that, which has led to many releases and many performers signing with AEW.

Aside from those who let their WWE contracts expire before signing with AEW like Danielson and Adam Cole, some of the biggest names that were cut by WWE and then signed with AEW include Malakai Black, Andrade El Idolo, Miro, Ruby Soho and FTR.

AEW has been successful, but its weekly television viewership is still far off from Raw and SmackDown, which may be why WWE is no longer hesitating to part ways with talent it has no long-term plans for.

Rumors on NXT 2.0 in WWE 2K22

WWE's recent run of releases may be impacting the previous plans for the WWE 2K22 video game.

According to Fightful Select (h/t Michael Perry of Ringside News), WWE 2K22 developers had planned to have a "robust" roster of NXT Superstars in the video game, but that may no longer be the case due to how many changes the brand has undergone.

In addition to NXT being rebranded as NXT 2.0 with a brighter color scheme, many former NXT Superstars have been released over the past year.

Some of the most notable ones include Bronson Reed, Bobby Fish, Hit Row, Mercedes Martinez, Franky Monet and Ember Moon.

WWE has opted to focus more on younger, less-experienced performers, which has led to the rise of Superstars such as Bron Breakker, Carmelo Hayes, Cora Jade, Tony D'Angelo, Grayson Waller and Toxic Attraction.

Fightful Select also got some insight into the process of integrating characters into the WWE 2K22 video game by speaking to released former WWE Superstars.

Those wrestlers said there was a strong commitment to accuracy, as they had a great deal of input into their in-game characters, especially move sets, and were tasked with giving feedback to the developers.

WWE 2K22's launch is a huge deal since there was no WWE 2K21 after WWE 2K20 was widely panned for being filled with glitches and other issues.

WWE and 2K are looking to make a big splash upon their return in March, but the game may be different than initially intended because of the changes WWE has made this year.

MJF Talks Possibly Signing with WWE

MJF continues to tease signing with WWE when his AEW contract expires in 2024.

In an interview with Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated, MJF was asked about Edge and The Miz alluding to his recent promo with CM Punk during a promo of their own.

In the MJF vs. Punk promo battle, Punk called MJF a "less-famous Miz," which led to Edge noting that people on other shows are using Miz's name to "get a cheap reaction."

When asked for his thoughts about the segment involving Edge and Miz, MJF expressed no hard feelings and left the door open for eventually joining WWE:

"They're just trying to make their show the best they possibly can. I'm not mad, I completely understand it. And who knows, I might be working with those two guys in 2024.

"And that line by Punk about me being a 'less famous Miz,' that resonated because people used to actually think that. But I'm smart enough to know better. My match last month at Full Gear against Darby Allin proved otherwise. I am equally as outstanding in the ring as I am on the stick. That match with Darby proved I'm anything but one-dimensional."

MJF is one of the brightest young stars in professional wrestling, and he is already one of the top guys in AEW at just 25 years of age.

He has worked with the likes of Cody, Jon Moxley, Chris Jericho and Punk, which speaks to how highly AEW President Tony Khan thinks of him as a heel.

It stands to reason that just about every wrestling company will be interested when MJF becomes a free agent, including WWE.

One can only assume AEW will do everything in its power to keep him, but MJF could be the beneficiary of one of the first true bidding wars between WWE and AEW.

Listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot wrestling topics. Catch the latest episode in the player below (warning: profanity).