Sunday night at Extreme Rules, Daniel Bryan will team with Kane as Team Hell No attempts to wrest the SmackDown Tag Team Championships away from The Bludgeon Brothers, but the 37-year-old's long-term future in WWE has been the subject of many rumors and reports in recent months.
That, again, is the case this week.
The leader of the YES! Movement is not the only former world champion making headlines, though.
Former NXT champion Andrade "Cien" Almas was at the forefront of an interesting report, while former women's champions Bayley and Sasha Banks' Extreme Rules prospects were confirmed.
Daniel Bryan's Contract Update
WrestleVotes reported that WWE has a strong indication of what Daniel Bryan will do regarding his contract this fall based on his inclusion in the WWE 2K19 video game.
Regarding Daniel Bryan and his contract: WWE has a strong idea on what he’s going to do. So much so, that months ago the decision was made to have the 2K19 Showcase mode revolve around him. Having that game release w/o Bryan on the roster wouldn’t look good. So.... https://t.co/2CPMy6aeZl
Bryan's contract is set to expire September 1.
The immensely popular Superstar returned to the ring this past April at WrestleMania 34 after a three-year absence due to his concussion history.
Buy or Sell?
Buy. It would be great to see Bryan travel the world and battle the top independent stars, but it still feels like he has unfinished business in WWE. Yes, he climbed to the top of the industry and won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXX, culminating one of the greatest underdog stories in grand fashion, but his injuries robbed him of a run atop the company.
He still has one great run in him, and as a member of the SmackDown roster, he has a greater opportunity to achieve that. Re-signing with WWE would give the company enough faith in him to pull the proverbial trigger and instigate the push.
Yes, Bryan vs. Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito in New Japan Pro-Wrestling would be a fan's dream, but signing with WWE, reaping the rewards and riding off into the sunset as one of the greatest and most beloved Superstars in that company's history is the right move.
Original Plans for the United States Championship Feud
Sunday at Extreme Rules, Jeff Hardy will defend the United States Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura.
However, that was not always the plan, as Harry Austen of WrestlingStandard.com reported:
"[...] The original plan for the Jeff Hardy's upcoming feud wasn't one featuring Nakamura, but in fact Cien Almas. After a short feud with Sin Cara, Almas would have moved on to a program with current U.S. Champion Jeff Hardy, where he was likely going to pick up the title. One source stated that Vince McMahon 'loves a foreign heel as U.S. Champion', additionally saying, 'it was going to be Cien but it'll [now] probably be Nakamura.'"
The report continued: "The belief backstage is that Nakamura winning the U.S. title is compensation for him losing out on the WWE Championship, which also wasn't the original plan."
Zelina Vega even took to Twitter on July 3, hinting that Almas may be intrigued at the idea of answering Hardy's United States Championship Open Challenge, but nothing came of it.
Almas and Sin Cara finally settled their differences in a match won by the former on the July 10 episode of SmackDown Live, with no clear indicator of what is next for El Idolo and associate Vega.
Buy or Sell?
Sell. Almas was riding such a wave of momentum as he made the jump to the main roster that it is majorly disappointing to find out his run on SmackDown Live was halted because WWE made abrupt changes.
As witnessed in his match with Sin Cara on the aforementioned episode of SmackDown, Almas is as hot as any other Superstar on the roster between the ropes. His work has been stellar and his character has been superb, thanks in large part to the pairing with Vega.
Not capitalizing on his momentum may end up biting WWE Creative, especially since Nakamura has been so streaky thus far in his main roster run.
Where this leaves Almas in terms of his push remains a mystery, particularly since the feud with Sin Cara is over and every other Superstar who could possibly elevate his star on Tuesday nights is otherwise occupied with their own ongoing programs.
Sasha Banks, Bayley and Extreme Rules
According to Randall Ortman of Cageside Seats, Bayley vs. Sasha Banks is not expected to be added to the Extreme Rules pay-per-view, and there is a good chance they will not appear on the show at all.
The friends-turned-rivals-turned-friends-turned-rivals were last seen undergoing therapy with the acclaimed Dr. Shelby.
Buy or Sell?
Sell. Banks and Bayley's story started hot, turned cold, rejuvenated with what appeared to be Bayley's heel turn, but has cooled off again with the ridiculous therapy story.
What should be a series of matches featuring two of the most talented women in the industry tearing the house down has, instead, become an unfunny attempt by WWE Creative to deliver variety programming.
It is ineffective and only hurts what should have been an even more star-making program for the women involved.
Instead, they are rebooting the age-old "partners who don't get along" shtick that was perfected by Daniel Bryan and Kane and has no chance in hell of working with the two of them involved.