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Fans chanted “yes!” as Kenny Omega and The Elite beat down Christian and The Jurassic Express following another successful title defense by Omega. As Omega was gloating, claiming nobody was on his level, AEW pulled off a very well-done swerve as the “yes” chants were answered with the shocking debut of Adam Cole.

Following a somewhat predictable heel turn by Cole, who rejoined his friends at The Elite, Daniel Bryan crashed the celebration with a new, trap version of Flight of the Valkyries.

“The landscape has changed,” said a poignant Jim Ross as All Out went off the air.

Daniel Bryan-to-AEW speculation ramped up as soon as he lost what would prove to be his final match in WWE against Roman Reigns on the April 30, 2021 broadcast of SmackDown. Per the stipulation, Bryan was banished from SmackDown. Though some assumed this just meant Bryan would inevitably end up on Raw (or NXT), Bryan’s loss was preceded by some eyebrow-raising comments as the former WWE champion discussed his desire to wrestle for outside promotions.

“My contract is up soon. We need to figure out what’s a good balance between home life and wrestling,” said Bryan during a meet-and-greet session on WrestleMania 37weekend.

“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.”

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MORE FROM FORBESDaniel Bryan Is Reportedly ‘100% Locked In’ With AEW

Not too long after Bryan’s loss, Cassidy Haynes of Bodyslam.net (h/t Forbes) reported Bryan was “100% locked in” with AEW. The sudden turn of events coincided with news that CM Punk was also AEW-bound, and three weeks after Punk’s memorable debut at AEW First Dance, Bryan made his own triumphant return at AEW All Out.

Punk has aggressively teased the forthcoming arrival of Bryan, first by responding to a “yes” chant by telling fans to be patient during his AEW Dynamite debut. As another tease, Punk then took to Instagram stories to share a photo of the two shaking hands in ROH.

Speculation of both Bryan and Punk in AEW has helped the piping-hot promotion inch closer to a sellout as it prepares to run New York City’s Arthur Ashe Stadium. With rumors that Adam Cole is on his way as well, AEW President Tony Khan is taking a very deliberate direction toward building his company around prototypical Internet Wrestling Darlings and stars of the indies.

AEW has also developed an affinity for former WWE stars. In fact, whispers of former WWE Superstars overtaking AEW will only grow louder, and could be prone to backlash (both from within the AEW locker room and within its own loyal fanbase), the more names like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Miro and Malakai Black are prioritized over home-grown AEW stars.

At +175, CM Punk was the betting favorite to be Daniel Bryan’s first opponent when, when betting odds were released last month. AEW world champion Kenny Omega was a close second at +450. Given Bryan’s sudden involvement with Adam Cole, Cole too could emerge as a darkhorse to be Bryan’s first opponent.

Source: Forbes

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