On Sunday, while the other major players in WWE’s main event ecosystem were battling it out for the chance to be Mr. Money in the Bank, Daniel Bryan was opening the show against Big Cass (who was released during the writing of this story).
That match was a continuation of Bryan’s only singles feud since returning to in-ring competition for WWE. It ended just like their match at Backlash did, with Bryan winning via submission.
Daniel Bryan hasn’t had a title match since returning to the main roster and really has been kept away from any major feuds with the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura, A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe.
Perhaps that is because rumors have been circulating about Bryan not having a new deal signed for when his current one expires on Sept. 1.
With Bryan potentially being the biggest free agent in wrestling since Styles made the jump from New Japan to WWE a few years back, that behind-the-scenes storyline is the best thing that WWE has going right now.
Fans are investing their heart and soul into Bryan’s rise back to the top, where they hope it culminates in a WWE Championship run. Yet, in the back of all of their minds, fans understand that they could be watching Bryan just play out the remainder of his contract with WWE.
It’s the only reason for why the WWE isn’t putting Bryan in the title picture. Bryan is the most over superstar the WWE has had in the modern era and that is proven each and every time that Bryan walks through the curtain and out into the ring.
WWE would only keep Bryan out of that picture if they didn’t have an assurance in the form of a signed contract that Bryan would be staying. Or the WWE isn’t ready to commit to Bryan as a long-term play the way they do Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins yet.
Looking at this from Bryan’s perspective, it’s clear as to why he would want to keep his options open. He could always see what companies like New Japan, Ring of Honor and CMLL will offer him, and then decide to return to WWE after exploring the rest of the wrestling world.
WWE is known to hold grudges, but it seems a little far-fetched to think that WWE wouldn’t bring back Bryan on the basis that he wanted to see what the market would give him.
The date is well known among wrestling fans. Sept. 1 is getting closer and closer, and with each passing day the speculation grows and grows. If Bryan signed a new deal, WWE would have that printed on the front page of WWE.com.
So the booking of Daniel Bryan between now and let’s say SummerSlam is going to generate a lot of eyeballs, as the wrestling world looks for clues as to Bryan’s future within the company.
If Bryan is moved toward the main event and the title picture, it might mean WWE has more clarity on the situation. If he stays floating around in the mid-card and in feuds that don’t mean much, that points to Bryan potentially being on the way out.
Either way, Daniel Bryan’s future with WWE is the best storyline that they have going this summer whether they want to admit it or not.