Quick Takes on Daniel Bryan's WWE Future, AEW Ratings, Omega vs. Swann and More

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2021

Quick Takes on Daniel Bryan's WWE Future, AEW Ratings, Omega vs. Swann and More

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    Is Daniel Bryan eyeing an exit from WWE, or is he on his way to Raw?
    Is Daniel Bryan eyeing an exit from WWE, or is he on his way to Raw?Credit: WWE.com

    Daniel Bryan has been a hot topic of conversation among wrestling fans this week, and the ending of Friday's SmackDown put his immediate WWE future in even more doubt.

    Per Jeremy Lambert of Fightful, the five-time WWE world champion recently expressed interest in transitioning into a part-time role and wrestling elsewhere in addition to WWE. That led to speculation that he could be on his way out once his contract expires later this year. And with his SmackDown career on the line against Roman Reigns on Friday, it will be interesting to see what the next few months will have in store for him.

    WWE losing Bryan to All Elite Wrestling would be huge, and at this point in AEW's growth, anything is possible. The burgeoning promotion has brought in several notable names over the past two years and is starting to see more and more success, with Dynamite ratings as high as they have ever been.

    AEW seems to be doing everything right with its weekly Wednesday night show to keep the momentum rolling. The only thing it could be doing better is emphasizing its relationship with Impact more and making matches such as Kenny Omega vs. Rich Swann feel like a bigger deal.

    This week's Quick Takes will tackle AEW's recent ratings spike, where Bryan will end up, whether Finn Balor and Io Shirai are main roster-bound and more. AEW's lack of fanfare for Omega vs. Swann and the repackaging of T-Bar and Mace will also be discussed.

WWE Is Likely Preparing Daniel Bryan for a Run on Raw

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    All this talk about Daniel Bryan possibly leaving WWE won't amount to anything in the immediate future. Rather, the stipulation of his SmackDown main event against Roman Reigns on Friday all but guarantees he's headed to Raw.

    Interestingly enough, Bryan is one of the few stars to have never switched brands since the return of WWE's Brand Split in 2016. He was named the blue brand's general manager that July, and even as an active member of the roster, he's never been on Raw—at least not since 2011 during the original Brand Split.

    Truth be told, Raw could use Bryan far more than SmackDown. Although there are several Superstars Bryan could still have fresh feuds with on SmackDown, Raw needs more top-tier babyfaces beyond Drew McIntyre.

    The Friday night program has a wealth talent who could fill Bryan's spot if and when he leaves, including Cesaro, Seth Rollins, Big E, Edge and Kevin Owens, among others. WWE's resident "Yes!" man doesn't have many years left as a full-time competitor, and thus he likely wants to spend them working with everyone he can.

    Regardless of the result of his Universal Championship clash with Reigns, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for Bryan and how much longer fans will be blessed with his presence for. He's done an exceptional job of elevating talent over the years, and it's only appropriate WWE returns the favor by giving him every dream match he wants, no matter what show it's on.

Can AEW Maintain Its Momentum and Continue to Garner 1 Million Viewers Weekly?

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    NXT returning to Tuesdays has proved to be the best thing that could have happened to both the black-and-gold brand and AEW Dynamite. Numbers for the shows have increased significantly, specifically for Dynamite, which scored a whopping 1.2 million viewers for its April 14 episode.

    This past week's edition also managed to bring in more than a million viewers, per Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc, which raises the question of whether AEW can continue to do those type of numbers every week going forward. If so, the promotion will be in prime position to succeed.

    The key is consistent storyline progression and advertising matches viewers will want to tune in to see. AEW has managed to do just that for the past two weeks and already has the first Blood and Guts main event lined up for May 5.

    Beyond that, booking marquee matches for the show week after week will be imperative along with giving fans feuds they can invest in and characters they can get excited about. In not having to worry about the competition, AEW has done some of its strongest programming in recent memory.

    Dynamite has hit a stride in recent weeks, and keeping the ball rolling is of the utmost importance. It's been difficult for wrestling companies to grow their audiences for their flagship shows, but AEW is on track to being the rare exception.

T-Bar and Mace May Still Be Able to Be Salvaged by Being Repackaged

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    At long last, T-Bar and Mace unmasked on Monday's Raw, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are out of the woods.

    The first mistake WWE made with them was putting the duo in Retribution last summer, an act that was dead on arrival. The second mistake WWE made was running the group into the ground to the point everyone involved will have a tough time recovering from it.

    T-Bar and Mace laying out Drew McIntyre to close out the April 12 edition of Raw did nothing to make fans take them seriously again. Unmasking them was a step in the right direction, but they are going to need a repackaging in order to be salvaged.

    The next step must be giving them their original ring names back: Dominik Dijakovic and Dio Maddin. Dijakovic had a slew of stellar performances in NXT, while Maddin could be a portrayed as an unstoppable force with the right booking.

    Both guys deserve a chance to succeed without any silly character traits attached. They shouldn't be considered damaged goods unless the bad booking persists, in which case their days on the Raw roster will be numbered.

    Raw could desperately use some fresh blood in the tag team ranks, and these two could help fill that void—assuming they escape the stench of Retribution.

Finn Balor and Io Shirai Shouldn't Be Main Roster-Bound Just Yet

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    Coming off their respective losses at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver, all signs seemed to point to Finn Balor and Io Shirai heading to either Raw or SmackDown sooner rather than later.

    Both are bound to make that move to the main roster, but there's no reason to rush it. Despite Balor and Shirai losing their titles at the event, there's still more they can do on the black-and-gold brand before they get their call-ups.

    On Wednesday's NXT, Shirai declared that she will be in NXT for the foreseeable future. Franky Monet interrupting her should mean that they will be on a collision course before long, ending with Monet going over decisively.

    In the case of Balor, a rematch with Karrion Kross would ideal. That, or another outing against Kyle O'Reilly to determine who should be next in line for a title shot. He also has unfinished business with NXT United Kingdom champion WALTER, so he has plenty to keep himself busy with for the next few months.

    With the rough shape Raw finds itself in, SmackDown would be the best landing spot for both Balor and Shirai. When that time comes, WWE should have a plan in place for the two of them to ensure they don't get lost in the shuffle.

How AEW Dropped the Ball in Building to Omega vs. Swann at Impact Rebellion

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    AEW world champion Kenny Omega and Impact world champion Rich Swann are set to collide in a title for title match at Impact's Rebellion pay-per-view Sunday, yet there's a good chance those who only tune into AEW programming aren't aware of that.

    Impact has done everything right in making this matchup feel like a major happening. The dueling promos on their weekly television show have been excellent, the video packages have been effective and former WWE commentator Mauro Ranallo will be making his Impact debut simply to call the contest.

    The high-stakes bout has been in the works since Omega arrived in Impact in early December and pinned Swann in a six-man tag team match at January's Hard to Kill event. The AEW champion has been promising to take every top title in wrestling, so this was a logical next step in his expedition for gold.

    Unfortunately, AEW has done little to hype the marquee match. Granted, there is something to be said about AEW not having anything to gain from one of its stars wrestling on an opposing promotion's pay-per-view, but from a storyline standpoint, it makes little sense as to why it wouldn't be acknowledged.

    The outcome couldn't be any more obvious: Omega will defeat Swann to become the new Impact world champion. However, as far-fetched as it may sound, Swann could walk away with both belts, which would create confusion among AEW fans because Swann hasn't been mentioned on Dynamite once.

    At the very least, AEW could have had Swann show up and brawl with Omega on an episode of Dynamite to build to their upcoming clash. Instead, Impact is left looking inferior to AEW, not to mention that it remains to be seen how both companies plan on dealing with the aftermath.


    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.