2018 was a crucial one for the career of Bryan Danielson. Then working as Daniel Bryan, ‘The American Dragon’ was finally cleared for a return to in-ring competition after a couple of years retired due to neck-related issues. He returned to the ring, officially, at WrestleMania 34, embarking on a remarkable three-year stretch with the sports entertainment giant.
When news of his contract expiring broke in April 2021 and his profile was moved to the alumni section of WWE.com, it was a telltale sign that he was indeed done with WWE. He moved to All Elite Wrestling a few months later, and is now once again proving himself as one of the world’s greatest all-round performers.
Bryan Danielson Almost Left WWE Three Years Earlier
Although it was in 2021 that he actually left WWE, Bryan Danielson had considered doing so three years prior. Speaking to Inside The Ropes’ own Kenny McIntosh, the multi-time World Champion revealed how he was considering moving back to Ring of Honor in 2018, owing to the company’s growing popularity sparked by The Elite:
“It was really interesting, my contract with WWE was up in 2018, and I was considering going to Ring of Honor. I was talking to The Young Bucks and I was talking to Cody [Rhodes] just to see, and their contracts were all up with Ring of Honor. I was like, ‘Well what are you guys going to do?’
Even my lawyer, who doesn’t know anything about pro wrestling, he said, ‘Hey, I don’t think you should sign with Ring of Honor if these Young Bucks aren’t going. Because they have got this YouTube show called Being The Elite, I don’t know if you have heard of it, it’s essentially the driver of the popularity of Ring of Honor. So if those guys go away, we don’t know if Ring of Honor will still be as popular. Then with Cody’s contract coming up, if they leave and Cody leaves, what will Ring of Honor’s popularity be like?’
So that was part of the discussion. When you are looking at it in 2014, you don’t envision The Young Bucks starting a YouTube channel and it is going to become super hot and a catalyst for change in pro wrestling. You also don’t envision that even if there is someone with money who backs them and whatever it is, is it going to be someone who is really willing to be fully invested in it the way that Tony Khan is? So you could never have imagined it. But I think that given that, it’s really cool.”
Although Bryan Danielson is yet to appear for a Tony Khan-owned Ring of Honor, he was inducted into the company’s Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class earlier this year alongside CM Punk, Samoa Joe, The Briscoes, and Cary Silkin.
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