On the latest episode of WWE After the Bell, Corey Graves and Vic Joseph discussed Daniel Bryan losing to Roman Reigns on last week’s SmackDown. The stipulation of the match stated that Bryan would have to leave SmackDown for good if he lost.
Bryan’s contact with WWE actually expired that night at midnight. Graves said he’s not sure what’s going to happen next for Bryan and noted that we’ll have to wait and see when he makes his first statement following the match.
“This past Friday Night on SmackDown might have been the last time we see Daniel Bryan in WWE,” Graves said. “I challenge you to find anybody from a technical standpoint that does it better than Daniel Bryan. We knew [him and Roman] were going to tear it down, but now it’s a very real possibility that we’re faced with, we might not see Daniel Bryan. Definitely not on Friday Night SmackDown but even within the hallowed halls of WWE.
“At this point, Bryan is playing his cards close to the vest to my knowledge, he hasn’t made any public statements about what’s next, there are plenty of speculations swirling in the internet wrestling community. That’s basically all we have to work with at this point.”
WWE has reportedly been pushing hard to re-sign Daniel Bryan and keep him with the company. Joseph echoed Graves’ sentiment that only Bryan knows what is next for his career. The NXT commentator also compared this situation to CM Punk winning the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank 2011 and leaving the company the next day.
“I don’t really know the man that well, I’ve had conversations with him, I know he loves his wife, I know he loves his family,” Joseph said. “This is that grey area that I like about WWE. When you actually have legitimate questions about what’s happening because nobody knows. That’s the fun time to be a fan. The last time I really remember this grey area was CM Punk. What’s he going to do? Is he gone?
“This is what makes wrestling special to me, this period we’re in.”
Graves refuted Joseph’s comparison of this situation to Punk’s in 2011. Recently, Bryan had expressed interest in working outside of WWE. Graves stated that Bryan may have unfinished business in another company and could leave WWE to go chase that goal, while Joseph said that he would love to see Bryan come to NXT.
“I would argue they differed in that Punk won the title and disappeared,” Graves said. “Daniel Bryan lost essentially a loser leaves SmackDown match and now all we can do is speculate until we hear or see something from Daniel Bryan himself. I challenge you to find anybody walking the earth who loves this business as much as Daniel Bryan, to the depths that Daniel loves it. Daniel years ago thought his career had wrapped up, he was able to defy the odds, make his comeback under the WWE banner and has remained here since then and done incredible things since returning from what was thought to be a career ending injury. Daniel to me, the little bit that I know him, does Daniel have unfinished business elsewhere?”
“Maybe he does,” Joseph said. “He’s been very open about other athletes that he’d like to tangle with, other dream scenarios he has. Selfishly, I’d love him to come to Tuesdays to have him have those matches. I remember before coming to WWE, seeing Daniel Bryan vs. a guy like Johnny Gargano and how cool that was. There’s a lot of those scenarios. Does a professional wrestler ever really retire?”
Graves also shared that he hopes Bryan shows up on RAW while remembering a conversation he had with Bryan about him loving wrestling in Mexico. The RAW commentator said at the time it was crazy to hear Bryan speak about wanting to wrestle in Mexico because he was someone who main evented a WrestleMania in front of tens of thousands of people.
“This is Daniel Bryan who was banned from SmackDown, he didn’t voluntarily retire,” Graves said. “Selfishly, I’m hoping he shows up on Monday Night RAW. Maybe he goes to NXT, maybe Daniel Bryan has business elsewhere.
“I distinctly remember a conversation I had with Bryan a few years ago, we were standing in Gorilla before he went out for a match, and my younger brother, who is a sports entertainer in Mexico had just wrestled a Mexican legend in a mask vs. hair [match], and Daniel Bryan was talking to me about how excited he was for my brother because that was a dream of Bryans. The fan in him respects that culture so much and thought man I’d always wanted to do that. Here’s a guy that won the championship at WrestleMania, literally does not get any bigger than WrestleMania 30 and 60,000 people chanting, and here’s a guy who experienced that but still has this burning interest in other things because his passion is so strong for this business. Maybe Bryan wants to explore options there, we know Bryan has spent some time and had some success in Japan. Maybe Daniel never steps in a ring again.”
Graves continued to talk about Bryan and how he believes that when he does call it a career in WWE, he will be a Hall of Famer. Joseph also asked about what’s left for Bryan to accomplish, and said the only person who can answer that question is Bryan himself.
“Only Daniel Bryan knows those answers,” Graves said. “This is a guy that punched his ticket, he’s transcended the WWE logo in the sports entertainment world. Wherever Daniel Bryan ends up he is going to be a bonafide star and I think his contributions have been to this point that he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame. If Daniel Bryan never steps in the ring again, Daniel Bryan will enter the WWE Hall of Fame at some point. My question, my curiosity is, what does Daniel the man have left to accomplish before the wheels fall off?”
“What is left on Daniel Bryan’s list to do?” Joseph asked. “Is it to main event a match in Indonesia? Is it to go down and have a hair vs. mask match in Mexico? Is it to return to the place he had his first match and have his last match? I don’t know. Only one man does and no matter what decision is made, I have the utmost respect for Daniel Bryan for what he has given to this industry and to this business.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE After the Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.