Daniel Bryan is heading to AEW, according to a new report dropped by Cassidy Haynes of Bodyslam.net on Wednesday. The former WWE Champion was last seen on WWE programming on the April 30 episode of SmackDown, and his contract expired shortly afterwards without WWE managing to lock him in to a new deal. Haynes' initial report stated Bryan had already signed a deal with AEW that would give him comparable pay, fewer dates and the freedom to wrestle in Japan. Neither Bryan nor AEW have officially commented on the report as of this time, but Haynes had more details as the night went on.
In a follow-up, Haynes wrote that the current plan for Bryan's debut is to have him arrive at AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam on Sept. 22, when Dynamite will take place inside Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City. Both Tony Khan and Chris Jericho talked about AEW's debut in NYC last month.
"No city is more synonymous with wrestling than New York City," Khan said. "AEW is a new company and our company is in the business of both embracing tradition and trailblazing, trying to start new traditions and new history."
"We've expanded to a lot of people that are just excited to see a different style of wrestling after being fed the same dish for 20 years plus. One of the reasons why AEW's done so well is we're different from WWE and that's obvious. We do things differently than the way they do it. They're a huge successful company, especially in the New York market. That's a WWE stronghold," Jericho told New York Daily News. "But there are a lot of people who are excited to see things done a little bit differently and I think that's one of the reasons why we're making our debut in New York City in a stadium WWE's never been in. I'm sure we could have gone to the Garden or done the Barclays Center, but those do have a WWE brush on them. Let's go somewhere else and make it our New York market arena. Let's go to Arthur Ashe Stadium and that now becomes an AEW stronghold in the middle of New York, which is a McMahon country."
"It's a trumpeting call that AEW is back on the road at the highest of levels. It's ready to take control of New York City. It's a celebration. It's a victory," he later added. "We'll be vindicated as the coolest wrestling company in the world today. What fans can expect is what we've been doing, just at a higher intensity level and a higher energy level because of the people in the crowd giving us more inspiration and more energy and more reward for what we're doing."