AEW started off this week’s edition of dynamite with a classic example of good news, bad news.
The good news? Bryan Danielson is not retiring from wrestling due to a lack of desire or a career-ending injury. He is very much still committed to Tony Khan’s promotion and will continue on as a member of the Black Pool Combat Club alongside Jon Moxley, William Regal, and Wheeler Yuta.
The bad news? Danielson isn’t cleared to wrestle and won’t be able to compete in the most highly anticipated technical exhibition of grappling in the history of modern-day professional wrestling against Zack Sabre Jr., or in the Blood and Guts match between the BCC plus Eddie Kingston and the team formerly known as LAX versus Chris Jericho and his the Jericho Appreciation Society cohorts.
A bummer? You bet; Danielson and ZSJ have never actually met in a ring to this point in their respective careers and the reaction from Dave Meltzer alone would have been worth the price of admission – plus a Wrestling Observer subscription. But hey, wrestling fans love a mystery, and Danielson’s decision to keep his replacement a secret not only makes things interesting for NJPW’s Sabre Jr., but for the fans at home trying to predict the newest member of the Black Pool Combat Club.
3 potential replacements for Bryan Danielson at Forbidden Door,
3. Wheeler Yuta
If Bryan Danielson wants to find a replacement performer he knows very well, with a similar style and similar pension for technical mastery, he could do a whole lot worse than Wheeler Yuta who, *spoiler alert* is already a member of the Black Pool Combat Club.
The current Ring of Honor Pure Championship belt holder in his first reign, Yuta was just a member of the NJPW Best of the Super Juniors tournament and by all accounts, was one of the true breakout stars of the even, right up there with “Sauce God” Alex Zayne and the newest member of Bullet Club, Ace Austin.
Though Yuta doesn’t technically fit the bill Danielson delivered to the fans watching at home, as he’s both already booked for the show in a trios match versus Chris Jericho, and is already a contracted talent with AEW/Ring of Honor, the “American Dragon” is a heel after all and it might be easier to replace the Pure Champion in the three-way match than find another technical ace up to Zack Sabre Jr.’s level on such short notice.
2. Josh Woods
If AEW wants to add a member to the Black Pool Combat Club who is 1. Not currently under contract with the promotion 2. A legitimate fighter with MMA experience and 3. A technical beast, the promotion could do a whole lot worse than calling up “The Technical Beast” Josh Woods.
The former ROH Pure Champion who lost the belt to Wheeler Yuta at Supercard of Honor, Woods is a technical grappler with both NCAA and MMA experience who has a wicked collection of suplexes that are only matched by the viciousness of his knee bar finishing hold.
Pair him up with Moxley and Danielson to further polish his in-ring work and a mouthpiece like William Regal hyping him up and don’t be surprised to see an “underwhelming” addition like Wood rapidly become a fan favorite among fans who like their wrestling hard-hitting.
1. Claudio Castagnoli
For two weeks in a row, WWE fans have eagerly tuned into SmackDown to see the return of Cesaro, the “Swiss Superman” who failed to reach a new contract with the promotion earlier this year heard his name announced as the headlining member of Max Dupri’s Maximum Male Models fact. On paper, the pairing makes perfect sense; Dupri has been an incredible talker regardless of the name announced before he walks to the ring, and giving him the mic with Cesaro taking care of business inside the squared circle could be a money pairing.
And yet, two weeks have passed and Dupri’s client remains a mystery. Could that be because of travel issues or the lighting of an arena, as Dupri suggested? Maybe but it also could be because Tony Khan swooped in and signed away the European technician to work directly with Jon Moxley and William Regal.
Reverted back to his indie name of Claudio Castagnoli, which he used everywhere from Chikara to Ring of Honor, the man formerly called Cesaro would put on an absolute show versus ZSJ at Forbidden Door, even if having him work alongside Eddie Kingston at Blood and Guts might be an unusual ask, as there is very real heat outside of the ring between the duo that remains hot to this day.