Although AEW was able to match WWE’s offer to Bryan Danielson, WWE pushed hard for a long-term deal and the ability to work in New Japan Pro Wrestling, according to the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
Vince McMahon himself apparently gave Danielson permission to work the G1 Climax tournament, a lengthy round-robin tournament in Japan that would have taken the former WWE Superstar away for about a month or longer to follow current quarantine regulations. It was speculated that McMahon may not have been aware of what the tournament actually was when giving Danielson the okay.
WWE President Nick Khan was attempting to work an exclusive deal with NJPW around this time, which prompted AEW President Tony Khan to speed up talks and get a deal going with NJPW. Over the last few months, we’ve seen both AEW and NJPW talent showing up in each promotion. Most recently, Minoru Suzki loss to Jon Moxley in the main event of Wednesday’s Dynamite.
Both WWE and AEW offered similar money with WWE giving limited dates, a big guarantee, and allowing work outside of the company. AEW was said to offer similar.
The big reason for Danielson’s switch was it would be the best thing for the wrestling industry, as a whole. He hoped WWE would be more open to sending talent to Japan in the future to prove themselves in the ring. Also, making AEW more competitive helps the talent (another place to earn good money/creative freedom in and out of the ring) while also giving fans a strong alternative to WWE.
As far as the “Yes!” chants, Danielson will likely veer away from prompting them, like in his WWE entrance, where he points his fingers up in the air as he made his way to the ring. If organic chants start up with the fans, he’s not going to push back.
Danielson reportedly signed a three-year deal with AEW.