Quick Takes on Daniel Bryan in AEW, Happy Corbin, WWE Title Contenders and More

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2021

Quick Takes on Daniel Bryan in AEW, Happy Corbin, WWE Title Contenders and More

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    It's more a matter of when than if Daniel Bryan will appear on AEW programming.
    It's more a matter of when than if Daniel Bryan will appear on AEW programming.Credit: WWE.com

    Hot on the heels of CM Punk's critically acclaimed All Elite Wrestling debut, Daniel Bryan's arrival in the promotion may not be far behind based on recent reports and teases on television.

    Cassidy Haynes of BodySlam.net, who broke the news of Bryan being "all elite" in July, additionally reported this past weekend that his debut is expected to happen at All Out in Chicago on September 5. It was originally slated for AEW's Arthur Ashe Stadium show in New York City in mid-September, but recent circumstances caused it to be pushed up a few weeks.

    We are experiencing exciting and unprecedented times in wrestling, so much so that Baron Corbin is one of the best things on WWE TV right now. He kicked off his new "happy" gimmick on Friday's SmackDown and immediately showed promise following the great work he did with his previous persona.

    Raw is still struggling to find its footing, especially after the less-than-stellar showing it had at SummerSlam, but Bobby Lashley remains a dominant force as WWE champion. His successful title defense against Goldberg leaves the door open for other potential challengers heading into Extreme Rules on September 26.

    The latest installment of Quick Takes will tackle possible opponents for Lashley, if fans have a reason to worry regarding the rumored direction of NXT, why All Out isn't the right time for The Young Bucks to lose the AEW World Tag Team Championship, and more.

AEW Would Be Smart to Capitalize on Daniel Bryan Buzz as Soon as Possible

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    The crowd ate up every word of CM Punk's first promo on AEW Dynamite last Wednesday, but what made it newsworthy was when he all but confirmed that Daniel Bryan—aka Bryan Danielson—will soon be joining the company as well.

    It's been one of the worst-kept secrets in wrestling for well over a month now. The Grand Slam edition of Dynamite on September 22 at Arthur Ashe Stadium seemed to be the most likely place for it to happen, but all signs now point to it being All Out instead.

    Although it's only a few weeks earlier, it's smart of the company to capitalize on the Bryan buzz by debuting him on the sooner side while he's still being talked about as much as he is.

    There are bound to be other big names signing with AEW eventually, including Bray Wyatt and possibly even Adam Cole. Thus, the promotion shouldn't need to wait any longer to bring him in, especially now that Punk is in the fold.

    The simplest way to debut Bryan would be to have him interrupt Kenny Omega's celebration after successfully defending the AEW World Championship. All Out should have at least one major surprise and the 40-year-old fits that bill.

Do Fans Have Reason to Worry About the Upcoming NXT Reboot?

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    During Friday's SmackDown, WWE revealed the new logo for NXT to a mixed reaction from fans online. Regardless of what the logo will look like, there may be bigger things worth worrying about when it comes to what this reported reboot of the brand will entail.

    It was rumored for weeks that NXT would be undergoing a significant overhaul soon. WWE President and Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan confirmed this in an interview with Ariel Helwani for BT Sport during the SummerSlam weekend, but what those changes are going to consist of is the question.

    In an interview with Alex McCarthy of TalkSport, Samoa Joe backed up reports regarding WWE's new hiring directive and how only athletes outside of wrestling will be considered for a spot on the roster as of now. Of course, this could change very soon, but it doesn't instill a ton of faith in fans who hope to see the current quality of NXT continue.

    Those who enjoy everything about NXT at the moment should take a wait-and-see approach with this updated version of the black-and-gold brand. There's little we already know that would lead us to believe it's guaranteed to fail, not to mention there could be aspects of the reboot that could turn out to be positive (i.e. production, structuring of the shows, fresh faces, etc).

    Change can be scary—especially given some of the comments about how NXT is going to work going forward—but time will tell if any drastic differences will be made and whether the brand will be better for them.

WWE Has Struck Gold with Happy Corbin Character

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    If you had said Baron Corbin was among the most compelling characters on WWE TV a year or two ago, you likely would have had your rights as a wrestling fan revoked.

    For the better part of the past five years, the 36-year-old has been put in positions he shouldn't have been in against opponents he had no business facing. Being the consummate pro he is, he made the most of every character he portrayed—until WWE finally figured out how to book him properly recently.

    His most recent stint as "Broke" Baron Corbin was genuinely entertaining and one of the more must-see aspects of SmackDown this summer. In storyline, he's since turned his fortunes around and is now "Happy Corbin" after hitting it big in Las Vegas over SummerSlam weekend.

    The debut of his new character on Friday's SmackDown was exceptional as it allowed him to show more personality than ever before and play his part to perfection. He also has a fun foil in Mr. Money in the Bank Big E, who can bring the best out of him on the mic and in the ring.

    Both WWE and The Lone Wolf should be commended for turning his career around in the span of just a few months. Where he goes from here is anyone's guess, but at least Happy Corbin is off to a strong start.

All Out Isn't the Right Time to Pull Trigger on AEW Tag Team Title Change

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    On Friday's AEW Rampage, The Lucha Brothers knocked off Jurassic Express in the finals of the tag team eliminator to earn themselves a shot at The Young Bucks' AEW World Tag Team Championship at All Out.

    The Bucks and the Lucha Brothers have waged war before but never inside a steel cage. The steel structure will ensure the rest of The Elite can't interfere, making it more likely that the challengers will be the ones to end the lengthy reign of Matt and Nick Jackson.

    There was little doubt Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fenix should have been the inaugural AEW world tag team champions two years ago. For them to win it now would make for a nice moment and would be well deserved, but it would also be robbing the New York City fans at the Grand Slam edition of Dynamite of a Proud and Powerful victory.

    Given that it will be attended by more people than any other event in AEW's short history, that needs to be a special show. No other title makes as much sense to change hands there than the AEW Tag Team Championship, which should have been around the waists of Santana and Ortiz long ago.

    The Chicago crowd would give the Lucha Brothers a raucous reaction if they take the titles at All Out, but AEW should hold off on that title change until Grand Slam just a few weeks later. There, Proud and Powerful can get an even bigger ovation for finally becoming champions in AEW.

Who Will Be Next to Challenge WWE Champion Bobby Lashley?

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    It was evident by the end of the WWE Championship match at SummerSlam that the Bobby Lashley vs. Goldberg feud is doomed to continue, likely until Goldberg returns for another match against The All Mighty at October's Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia.

    Assuming that's for the WWE title, Lashley will need someone to defend against at Extreme Rules before then, and there aren't any obvious opponents. United States champion Damian Priest teased stepping up last Monday on Raw and The All Mighty will square off with Sheamus this week, so either might be an intriguing possibility.

    Beyond them, the well runs dry on the Raw roster.

    Drew McIntyre can't challenge for the title as long as Lashley is in possession of it, and Kofi Kingston already lost to him. Keith Lee and Jeff Hardy are potential options, but both would need to be built up first.

    A babyface AJ Styles would be the best-case scenario, but he and Omos still have unfinished business with Raw tag team champions RK-Bro. That leaves Priest and/or Sheamus as the only logical candidates unless WWE runs Lashley vs. Goldberg back sooner than expected.

    The bottom line is that as talented as the Raw roster is, the company needs to do a better job of creating legitimate contenders to the WWE Championship and not rely as heavily on the part-timers.


    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.