Speaking on the latest edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer has compared the current situation around Daniel Bryan to the infamous Brian Pillman saga in 1996.
It was reported earlier this week that Daniel Bryan’s contract with WWE expired at midnight on Friday April 30th. In storyline, Bryan lost a match against Universal Champion Roman Reigns which saw him banished from SmackDown. However, it has now come to light that Bryan’s contract had legitimately expired.
While WWE are reportedly “pushing hard” to sign Bryan to a new deal, he is currently a free agent. Reflecting on the news, Meltzer confirmed that Bryan is indeed a free to appear wherever he chooses.
“He’s a free agent, he can go anywhere he wants tomorrow, and can work anywhere he wants and all that. So that’s what’s up.”
Throughout late 1995 and early 1996 while competing in WCW Brian Pillman began to develop his “loose cannon” character. The new gimmick saw Pillman demonstrate more and more outlandish behaviour on TV, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. This culminated in Pillman walking out of a match with Kevin Sullivan at SuperBrawl VI. Pillman grabbed a microphone and addressed Sullivan as “booker man” as he left. Pointing to Sullivan’s role behind the scenes as a booker with WCW.
The “loose cannon” was later ‘fired’ by Eric Bischoff with the understanding that he would compete in ECW, hone his new character, and then return to WCW. The firing was presented as legitimate, although Pillman was still under contract with WCW. However, as Pillman’s WCW contract expired on April 17th (the ‘firing’ was in February) he began to negotiate with WWF (E) This led to a situation where Pillman created a bidding war around himself before he eventually signed with WWF. This was despite WCW President Eric Bischoff believing that Pillman was about to re-sign with the Atlanta based company.
Expanding further on Daniel Bryan’s current situation, Meltzer said that it reminded him of the aforementioned Brian Pillman saga. Along with co-host Bryan Alvarez, Meltzer appraised Daniel Bryan’s options, saying that he could take a leaf of out of Brian Pillaman’s book and look to maximise his earning potential.
“When it comes to money, he is going to be able to make extremely good money, for sure, in two places. AEW and WWE. I mean, just logic will tell you… It’s not like he’s going to go broke if he doesn’t sign with WWE, or if he signs with WWE he’ll be passing up so much more money on the outside. If your goal is the most money, if this is your goal, the most money, this is actually where Brian Pillman fits in. Because Brian Pillman ultimately in the same situation, his goal was the most money. It really was. That was his goal. If your goal is the most money, it’s a pretty easy situation to make. Whoever offers you most money. If your goal is the most fun in life, that’s a different decision. Might be the same decision, but it could be a different decision.”
The pair also admitted that there are many factors at play, including who Bryan may want to wrestle and what schedule he wants to work.
It is currently unclear where Daniel Bryan will sign next, but he is undoubtedly in a very strong position. Although, it is worth noting that in recent weeks Bryan has been open about potentially moving away from being a full-time performer. Speaking after WrestleMania 37, Bryan admitted that feeing an “odd detachment” had led him to question his future.