Quick Takes: Andrade Leaving WWE, Christian Cage in AEW, Daniel Bryan, and More
After many months of inactivity, all signs seem to point to Andrade exiting WWE once his contract expires.
Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc reported Friday that the former NXT and United States champion recently requested his release from the promotion. The next day, Dave Meltzer of F4WOnline.com revealed that his request had been denied.
Andrade isn't the only underutilized star to express interest in leaving WWE in recent months, and he may not be the last. If he does have one foot out the door, it's safe to say the company didn't do nearly enough to ensure he realized his potential.
WWE's loss could be All Elite Wrestling's gain, much like with Christian Cage. Following his shocking return to the ring during the men's Royal Rumble, Captain Charisma made his AEW debut at the Revolution pay-per-view and could be an asset to the promotion if used properly.
In other news, Daniel Bryan could on the verge of a major WrestleMania match following the events that transpired on Friday's SmackDown. He isn't expected to unseat Roman Reigns as universal champion at Fastlane but could still find his way into the WrestleMania main event, much like he did in 2014.
Bryan's WrestleMania ambitions will be tackled in this week's Quick Takes, along with MJF debuting a new faction on AEW Dynamite, the latest in the Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman saga and more.
Aleister Black and Andrade Are Potentially 2 Huge Losses for WWE
A slew of Superstars have left WWE for AEW since the latter promotion's inception in 2019, and more may be yet to come.
Rumors of Andrade quitting the company quickly led to fans fantasizing what he would be capable of in AEW. Despite having runs as United States champion and NXT champion over the past five years, he never reached the heights he should have, and the fact that he's been left off WWE TV for the past five months speaks volumes.
He isn't the only one who could be on his way out of the promotion. Aleister Black has also been absent from programming since the 2020 WWE draft, and although he's perfectly healthy, there has been no indication that he will be brought back to TV anytime soon.
According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Mitch Waddon of Cultaholic), the latest on Black is that he will likely be "stuck in catering" until his contract expires. That could be months or even up to a year, but either way, shelving him in the meantime is a massive waste of his talent.
Clearly, WWE doesn't see either man as a priority, otherwise they would at the very least feature on SmackDown and Raw. AEW can't sign every ex-WWE star, but as two men who could have been at the main event level and have so much to offer, Andrade and Black would be easy pickups for them, if not huge acquisitions for any other company lucky enough to have him.
MJF's Newest Faction May Be One Too Many for AEW
From The Elite to Inner Circle to The Dark Order, AEW has been stable-heavy in its brief history. Some have been more entertaining than others, but the promotion's infatuation with factions has reached the point of overkill now that almost everyone on the roster is involved in one.
The ending to Wednesday's Dynamite saw MJF betray Inner Circle and form a faction of his own consisting of himself, Wardlow, FTR, Tully Blanchard and Shawn Spears. While it has potential to be strong based on the chemistry of those six stars, the moment would have made more of an impact if there weren't already an abundance of groups in AEW.
In fact, it was on that same show that Matt Hardy recruited The Butcher, The Blade and The Bunny into the Matt Hardy Empire. That's in addition to Team Taz and The Nightmare Family continuing to grow in numbers.
It's almost as if AEW wrestlers are incapable of existing without having any allegiances or tag team partners. That would be more acceptable if Dynamite weren't constantly loaded with meaningless multi-man matches that cause certain performers to get overshadowed.
It's safe to assume that MJF's faction will face Inner Circle in a Blood and Guts match at some point, which was the original plan for The Elite vs. Inner Circle last year. Beyond that, AEW should either scale back on some of its other groups or allow MJF to fly solo since that's where he tends to do his best work.
Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon Rivalry Is Everything Wrong with Raw Right Now
Although Raw's side of the WrestleMania 37 card remains in a state of flux, one match that appears to be likely for the event is Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon. Unfortunately, there isn't anything about it that is remotely interesting, and the buildup to the bout reflects that.
Their bad blood stemmed from Shane leaving Strowman out of the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match because he is not a former WWE champion. Strowman then accused Shane of setting him up to fail, specifically when he ordered that he team with Adam Pearce against The Hurt Business.
The worst of their rivalry came on Monday's Raw when Strowman demanded answers from Shane but received nothing in return. Instead, Shane wasted time in two separate segments on the show and made the show's three-hour runtime even more of a chore to sit through than usual.
Anyone who watches weekly will tell you that Raw is a creative disaster, but this Strowman vs. Shane storyline has been dragging down the quality considerably. The payoff of Strowman conquering Shane in a match at WrestleMania won't make any of this nonsense worthwhile, either.
Putting together two Superstars for the sake of doing so and keeping them busy with each other is what's wrong with Raw. There's no sense of urgency behind the feuds, and they seem largely designed to kill time.
Looking at the Best Possible Opponents for Christian Cage in AEW
AEW did Christian Cage no favors by hyping his arrival so heavily, leading fans to believe it was a star of the caliber of CM Punk or Brock Lesnar. While that was a questionable tactic, Christian is a notable pickup for them and has the potential to do great things.
His Royal Rumble return in January seemed to suggest he would be back with WWE and possibly reunite with Edge. As cool as that would have been for fans of the decorated duo, Christian is much more likely to have a legitimate run with the creative freedom he craves in AEW.
Furthermore, AEW's loaded roster offers a plethora of potential opponents. First and foremost is with Kenny Omega, which was teased on Dynamite when Christian sent him fleeing from the ring.
Christian arguably shouldn't be wearing world title gold at this stage of his career, but contending for it on pay-per-view would be perfectly acceptable. Also in the main event mix is Jon Moxley, whom Christian has a history with from WWE and could have a strong series of matches with.
AEW TNT champion Darby Allin, who is a star on the rise, would benefit big time from working with Christian. There's also Lance Archer, which would make for an interesting size dynamic, as well as MJF, Pac and "Hangman" Adam Page.
AEW has revealed Christian's contract will last for the next few years, so he has plenty of time to make all of these matches happen and remind viewers of his excellence in the ring.
Could Daniel Bryan Be Working His Way into the WrestleMania Main Event Again?
Coming out of the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view on February 21, there was little doubt that Roman Reigns vs. Edge for the Universal Championship would be the featured attraction at WrestleMania 37.
Although Daniel Bryan was set up as the No. 1 contender to the title on the subsequent SmackDown, the outcome of his clash with Reigns at Fastlane on March 21 wasn't—and still isn't—in question. However, there must be a reason why WWE has been laying it on thick with the teases for Edge vs. Bryan in recent weeks, even if it isn't happening for the title.
It looks like Edge will be the special enforcer for the bout, assuming he beats Jey Uso on Friday night. Reigns will retain his title in fluky fashion, but it would be strange for Bryan to be dropped from the storyline all together with WrestleMania so soon after.
Edge could cost Bryan the match at Fastlane, resulting in Bryan facing Edge on Night 1 of 'Mania before Edge battles Reigns on Night 2. The only issue with that is that it would force Bryan to lose multiple times, and he should be owed a major win eventually.
Even if it isn't in the cards for WrestleMania, Bryan vs. Edge is inevitable and could come to fruition sometime in the spring. Bryan could also interject in the Seth Rollins and Cesaro storyline given his ties to both men. But the chemistry he's had with both Reigns and Edge is almost too good to overlook.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.