The year 2022 has been a precarious one for All Elite Wrestling.
The three-year-old company has had to navigate a slew of significant injuries and controversies. And the recent series of setbacks following All Out will force AEW to crown a new world champion.
Luckily, Bryan Danielson fits the bill.
During Labor Day weekend, AEW returned to the Now Arena to host its annual All Out pay-per-view. It was a solid show featuring some great matches and big surprises. Unfortunately, though, the backstage drama after the event overshadowed much of the proceedings, including MJF’s return as the Casino ladder match winner.
CM Punk’s tirade during the post-show media scrum soured what should have been a triumphant title win. Even more, his physical altercation with The Elite erased two of the biggest storylines of the night and left the company without four of its new champions.
As a result, president Tony Khan announced a tournament to find the top spot. The six-man bracket highlights noteworthy AEW champions like "Hangman" Adam Page, Sammy Guevara, Darby Allin, Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley.
Mox immediately stands out thanks to the tremendous run he has been on this year and the stirring promo he cut on Wednesday. However, this could be the perfect time for Danielson to earn his first AEW World Championship win.
The American Dragon made his surprise debut last year in the closing moments of All Out. In the months since, he has delivered some of the best matches in the history of AEW. He also co-founded the popular stable, the Blackpool Combat Club.
Still, the 41-year-old has been in search of this first title win since last November. To that end, it’s a bit symbolic that he beat Page in the first round of the Tournament of Champions. The two produced a pair of highly acclaimed matches, but Danielson couldn’t defeat his rival.
His victory on this week’s Dynamite allowed him to avenge his first major loss with AEW. It also sets him on a path to face Moxley and Jericho, who both handed him PPV losses this year.
Incidentally, this means Danielson will have to defeat three former AEW world champions to finally achieve his goal.
If he topples The Demo God in their rematch in the semifinal, it will set up a nice full-circle moment for him as he advances to the finals. Last September, Danielson, and Omega competed in a 30-minute time-limit draw at Grand Slam. Now, he has the chance to return to Arthur Ashe Stadium and secure a pivotal win a year later.
Yes, it would be a treat to see Mox pick up another monumental win at the venue. It would cement his position as the ace of AEW, but he also deserves some time off. The two-time champion was scheduled to do so following his loss at All Out, but the situation with Punk forced him to work more dates this month.
So, the finals in two weeks could grant Danielson a massive win and allow his stablemate to take a well-deserved vacation afterward. It could also be a great way to revisit their feud from Revolution.
An Excellent Foil for MJF
Let’s address the elephant in the room: Whoever wins the Tournament of Champions will have to contend with MJF soon. As the winner of the Casino ladder match, he can challenge anyone for the world title when he’s ready.
There are several suitable opponents for The Salt of the Earth ahead of Full Gear on November 19. A rematch with Mox or the long-awaited feud with Hangman are both great options. Reigniting MJF’s feud with Jericho isn't the worst idea, either, but this gives AEW the chance to build to a fresh matchup.
The American Dragon would make a perfect foil for the heel because they’re polar opposites. Some fans will immediately draw comparisons to Danielson’s feud with The Miz for this reason. Nevertheless, a rivalry with the four-time WWE champion is in line with the 26-year-old’s disdain for Khan and the fans.
After all, MJF expressed resentment towards ex-WWE guys during his infamous promo from the June 1 episode of Dynamite. He also claimed to be the greatest pro wrestler on the planet on Feb. 9, explicitly stating he was better than Danielson following his win over Punk.
Now, he has the chance to prove he was underappreciated and underpaid. Moreover, this is his opportunity to show everyone he is the future of the company in a time of uncertainty.
Securing a win over the ROH legend would be quite a hat-trick for him after he pinned Punk and Jericho.
The straight edge star also heavily influenced MJF, so it would be cool to see him take on one of his most iconic opponents from WWE. Sadly, it’s probably the closest we will get to recapturing the magic of Danielson vs. Punk. The three-time Dynamite Diamond Ring winner is creative enough to put his own spin on it, as well.
Given the circumstances, Danielson’s world title win could be a great way to salvage a bad situation. We already know he would make an excellent champion, but he would also give AEW a way to pivot out of its hottest rivalry of the year.