Daniel Bryan's WWE contract expired following his loss to Roman Reigns on the April 30 episode of Friday Night SmackDown.
Daniel Bryan is one of the biggest WWE Superstars of the modern era. Daniel Bryan's WWE World Heavyweight Championship victory at WrestleMania 30 in 2014. For several years, Daniel Bryan was not medically cleared for in-ring action. During this time, Daniel Bryan openly spoke about being willing to wrestle elsewhere if WWE did not clear him.
Ultimately, WWE would clear him and he returned to the ring at WrestleMania 34 in the same venue where he won the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania three years prior.
Three years later, Daniel Bryan once again headlined WrestleMania in a triple threat. This time, he was unsuccessful as Roman Reigns defeated both him and Edge to retain his WWE Universal Championship. Bryan would get one more opportunity on the April 30 episode of SmackDown and, per the stipulation of that match, Daniel Bryan was barred from ever again appearing on SmackDown.
Fightful has spoken with sources both inside and outside of WWE that have indicated that Daniel Bryan's WWE contract either expired or was set to expire last week, after his SmackDown match. Bryan was on the losing end of a WWE Universal Title match to Roman Reigns in which stipulated he would leave SmackDown if he lost, and was quickly moved to the alumni section of WWE.com.
High-level sources both outside and inside have noted that they'd heard of the expiration of the deal, but that Bryan had not spoken openly about his contract status that they're aware of. We also hadn't heard of any particular farewells backstage as if he wasn't going to be around, although that doesn't mean they didn't happen privately.
Bryan did an interview with TV Line, where they noted that he was tight-lipped about when his contract actually ended, and Bryan said the following:
"It’s funny that people gravitate towards the date “September,” and I think it’s because that’s when my last contract ended, but it doesn’t end in September. [Note: Bryan was tight-lipped about when his contract actually runs out.] I’m still trying to figure out what that looks like… I had a tag team match on SmackDown last Friday, and it was a lot of fun, but my neck was just wrecked"
We should note that this doesn't mean that Bryan is leaving WWE, hasn't re-signed since or that he won't work for WWE without a contract, as we're told he's been vocal about doing some unconventional work with and for WWE. This wouldn't come as a surprise since he's said as much in interviews. What we can confirm is that several talent within WWE had heard that Bryan's contract was set to expire.
Fightful has reached out to numerous officials and representatives to get a comment or confirmation on the news, but thus far have not heard back. We'll continue to work to get an official confirmation.
This report first appeared on our premium Fightful Select service. Subscribe to support our exclusive and independent coverage of professional wrestling. You'll get access to exclusive news, and dozens of additional podcasts.