DALLAS, TX, USA—If you haven't heard yet, brace yourself for this: Daniel Bryan is back as an active wrestler.
Nobody's joking. This is the best news we've heard all week, especially now when we're neck-deep into WrestleMania season. Bryan's been to a bunch of concussion experts around the United States, all of whom have given him the green light to resume wrestling. It's being reported that he's had this clearance since January, before the Royal Rumble, and that WWE is only coming out with it now.
There's no outright match made with Bryan for WrestleMania just yet – and I imagine we'll be getting that news soon enough, with only under three weeks left before the event – but all signs are pointing to him teaming up with Shane McMahon to fight Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, who put both of them on the shelf with heinous attacks in the past couple of SmackDown Live episodes.
Beyond the sheer joy of seeing Bryan wrestle again, and on WrestleMania no less, his return opens up a whole lot of opportunities for Bryan's career and the WWE after the show. Here's a short list of dream matches involving Daniel Bryan that I really would like to see happen in the second half of his wrestling run:
1. Daniel Bryan vs Shinsuke Nakamura
Everything on SmackDown is must-see, given the loaded nature of the roster – and there's no way you don't get on this match. For those who don't know, Bryan and Nakamura were batchmates at the New Japan Pro Wrestling LA Dojo; and while they have tangled before, a dream match in their current incarnations (especially Nakamura's King of Strong Style/Artist character) feels as fresh as ever. Expect this matchup to happen before the end of this year.
2. Daniel Bryan vs AJ Styles
The other must-have matchup while Bryan is on SmackDown. They've also likely tangled before when Bryan was with Ring of Honor, but if not, then all the more this match would be amazing. The WWE version of AJ Styles never fails to have a bad match, and coupled with Bryan's fire, they could set the SmackDown main event scene ablaze.
3. Daniel Bryan vs Brock Lesnar
You know you want this to happen. Lesnar vs Styles from last year's Survivor Series shows that when inspired with someone who could go faster, Lesnar could actually put out a good match. It's quite obvious who's going to win that, but it'll be pretty entertaining.
4. Daniel Bryan vs John Cena
This needs to happen again 5 years after the fact – after Cena's stepped his game up fighting guys like AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Seth Rollins, and a whole lot more. Given that Bryan owes Cena a rematch after winning clean at SummerSlam 2013, I really want to see how much the Franchise has changed. The story's even bigger now that Cena’s on the last legs of his wrestling career.
5. Daniel Bryan vs Aleister Black
This has probably already happened before in the indies, but again, many things that have happened in the past need to be revisited under the wrestlers' current WWE incarnations. Bryan is a striker and technical wrestler at heart, and I want to see him exchange blows with NXT's own Aleister Black – whenever Black gets called up.
6. Daniel Bryan vs Kazuchika Okada
Bryan getting cleared by the WWE was also affected by the fact that he could wrestle anywhere he wanted once he was finished with his WWE contract this September, and naturally the first place that would give him an opportunity is NJPW. It also opens up a lot of big-time matchups, given the way the company does business, and I would imagine the first thing he'd get into is a battle with NJPW's current ace, Kazuchika Okada. Alums like CJ Parker have done well in NJPW, and I daresay the company is the right place for him to reignite his passion for the business.
7. Daniel Bryan vs Kenny Omega
This is another matchup that's already happened in the independents (under Omega's old anime-lover gimmick), and I want to see it now that Omega’s sharpened his edge.
8. Daniel Bryan vs Kota Ibushi
Of course, a match with Omega has to follow with a match against his lover Kota Ibushi, right?
9. Daniel Bryan vs Tetsuya Naito
You can't count Naito out of the NJPW discussions as well, being the number two guy behind Okada.
10. Daniel Bryan vs Katsuyori Shibata
Ah, the ultimate dream match. Both wrestlers afflicted with terrible brain conditions, if Shibata manages to completely recover and get clearance to wrestle once again after suffering a brain hemorrhage, imagine the metanarrative such a bout would have. In fact, I'd say Bryan's clearance sets a precedent for someone like Shibata to have hope getting back in the ring again, and I really do hope he exhausts all possible avenues to get cleared. I feel that Shibata's career isn't over yet; if Bryan can come back, then so can the Wrestler. Let's cross our wrestling fingers for it.
Who else do you want to see Daniel Bryan go up against? Let's talk about it!
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