Dream matches for Daniel Bryan if he were to leave WWE

Dream matches for Daniel Bryan if he were to leave WWE

 Daniel Bryan’s WWE contract is up soon.
Daniel Bryan’s WWE contract is up soon.
Image: Getty Images

WrestleMania 37 WWE Title contender Daniel Bryan said he’s open to change, which is music to the bipolar hearts and always open ears of wrestling die-hards.

If you’ve been following pro wrestling even casually, Bryan’s long been one of the best technical wrestlers on the planet since before his name changed from Bryan Danielson upon re-joining the WWE in 2009. With a resume among the greatest of all-time and having already had career-ending injuries that he’s returned from, Bryan knows he likely doesn’t have a long time left to wrestle, or at least, is amid a tenure he cannot afford to take for granted.

“My contract is up soon,” he said, according to Frightful. “We need to figure out what’s a good balance between home life and wrestling. I never want to stop wrestling; I love it; it’s just figuring that out. It’d be interesting if I could wrestle in different companies and WWE. That’s something I’m trying to weasel my way into right now. [laughs]”

If Bryan were to leave the WWE when his contract reportedly expires in the fall, people would be compiling their dream match-list for him to complete. Of course, Bryan will have one of his own. Here’s ours.

We can't be too careful. Two guys in an airport...talking? It's a little fishy.

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2 / 8

Hangman Adam Page

Hangman Adam Page

Fels: The obvious choice from AEW is Kenny Omega, because both were at one time considered the absolute best in the world. And I certainly wouldn’t complain if that were to come to fruition. But the arc Hangman Page is on mirrors that of Bryan’s circa 2014. The man of the people rising to the top of the company because he’s that likable, hates liars and phonies, and also happens to be the best in the ring. Bryan did it through earnestness and in-ring work. Page does it through drinking and in-ring work. Same diff. Bryan also does some of his best work with guys who can throw him into Row H (his match with Brock Lesnar is a low-key masterpiece) and Page has that element while also being able to moonlight as a more acrobatic performer.

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3 / 8

Rush El Toro Blanco

Rush El Toro Blanco

Fonseca: A healthy portion of Daniel Bryan fans learned of him during his days as the “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, and while in Ring of Honor, in particular. It’s only natural to survey his old stomping grounds for desired challengers, starting with the current ROH World Champion, Rush El Toro Blanco, or simply, Rush.

Rush has been the World Titlist in ROH since February 29, 2020, and is currently in his second run with the championship. He also had a notable 10-year-tenure in Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre in Mexico between 2009-2019 before jumping to in-country competitor Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide in December of 2019. Rush, not only a World Champion in ROH but is also a former World Light Heavyweight, Tag Team, and Trios Titleholder in CMLL.

The resume alone places Rush among the top independent wrestlers in the world, and having thrived in both the USA and Mexico; it places him in the upper-echelon of talent worthy of a Daniel Bryan dream match. Rush is one of the most technically sound grapplers on the planet who could hang with Bryan on his best day and award fans a Match of the Year contender in any promotion this hypothetical were to take place. ROH obviously makes the most sense, but Bryan has expressed an interest in competing in Mexico as recently as 2019, even mentioning that Rush could “do well” in the WWE.

“I have a lot of respect for them,” Bryan said. “But thinking about who could do it now in WWE, someone like Rush could. I think Bandido would do well; Dragon Lee [Rush’s brother] could also succeed.”

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4 / 8

Minoru Suzuki

Minoru Suzuki

Fels: I don’t think I even have to explain this. Bryan’s history of concussions would make this a little queasy, but it would also be pure heaven to watch these two try and trade submissions and holds and then descend into slapping each other for five minutes. Suzuki is the king of heels, just the ultimate scumbag who seems to enjoy being in pain more than dishing it out. It would be way slow-paced, but these are the two to make that exciting. It would be a technical masterpiece.

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5 / 8

Jonathan Gresham

Jonathan Gresham

Fonseca: Jonathan Gresham is an obvious one, given the direct comparisons between the two. Gresham is the current ROH Pure Champion and has been since August 23 of last year. He’s also won titles in about 15 other promotions around the world and has wrestled in a collection of different countries, including Mexico, Japan, and Germany.

Earlier this month, fellow ROH wrestler Joe Hendry said Gresham is the ‘top talent’ in the company right now in an interview with TalkSport.

“I’ll tell you who the top talent is right now – it’s Jonathan Gresham, in my opinion,” Hendry said. “That’s controversial because a lot of people will feel it should be the heavyweight champion, but I think what Ring of Honor has done is give equal weighting to the Pure division, which allows us to steer into that niche, and I think that’s a real unique selling point for the company. I think that Jonathan Gresham is that breakthrough talent. I can’t remember who it was, but someone the other day in an interview compared him to Daniel Bryan in Ring of Honor, and I thought that was a good comparison.”

When you watch Gresham, who is currently at his apex, the comparisons couldn’t be more there, and rightfully so.

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6 / 8

Shingo Takagi

Shingo Takagi

Fels: This is cheating, because I want to see Shingo wrestle everyone on the planet up to and including God himself. He’s probably my favorite performer at the moment. But they both fit the same tweener profile. Neither are heavyweights but neither fit in with cruiserweights either. Bryan is simply too good for them, Shingo too strong, and both can hold their own with bigger men. They already have a history, but Mike Ditka told me the past is for cowards and losers. Both can engineer a great match with any style, as Shingo has proven over the past year by competing with a host of opponents in two G1 in NJPW. Bryan has made his career on producing classics with plodding strongmen like Randy Orton or Batista or Triple H as well as tearing the house down with Kofi Kingston or Miz or AJ Styles.

These two are chameleons, and could produce any kind of match asked. Please just hook it to my veins.

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7 / 8

Kazuchika Okada

Kazuchika Okada

Fonseca: Kazuchika Okada is as good as anyone on the planet right now outside of WWE, and some would say wouldn’t even make that qualifier. In 2017, Okada became the first wrestler based outside of America to top the PWI 500, a list Bryan completed in 2014, and one they’ve been within a few spots of one another on multiple occasions while in the top five.

Okada’s won countless titles - as well as awards - headlined by being a five-time winner of the ultra-prestigious IWGP Heavyweight Champion in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Bryan versus Okada would pit two of the most significant technical wrestlers and accomplished athletes in the art-form against one another that would make the casual wrestling fan salivate, even if it were to take place at Wrestle Kingdom overnight in your respective time zone. Just last month, Bryan commented on the possibility of facing Okada.

“Okada, from the time I got to WWE until now, he’s gone from someone you didn’t know much about to one of the best wrestlers in the world,” Bryan said.

Having classic bouts with Kenny Omega, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Hiroshi Tanahashi already on his resume, we’d expect nothing less from an Okada-Bryan showdown.

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8 / 8

We can't be too careful. Two guys in an airport...talking? It's a little fishy.