Rumors and speculation in regards to WWE, much like the company itself, never stops.
Reports of potential feuds, upcoming matches and life beyond the squared circle have been part of the online wrestling experience from the advent of the internet and continues to fuel the industry, even in a day and age where popularity for Vince McMahon's company may not be at an all-time high.
This week, SmackDown women's champion Charlotte Flair and universal champion Brock Lesnar made headlines while the blue brand's general manager, Daniel Bryan, will return to the squared circle sooner than you think, but not for the reason you want.
Original Plans for Charlotte's Title Feud
The SmackDown women's division was shaken by the arrival of Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan. The Riott Squad, as they are known collectively, has made life a living hell for the top stars on the blue brand, including women's champion Charlotte.
The plan prior to the arrival of the fresh faces, as reported by Randall Ortman of Cageside Seats, was not quite as dynamic or explosive as the current rivalry has been.
"Before WWE went with The Riott Squad invasion of SmackDown, plans called for a Charlotte Flair vs. Tamina/Lana feud."
Tamina was gathering a ton of momentum for herself over the summer in multi-woman matches in which she was booked as an unstoppable force. Over the fall, though, she fell into the background. Neither her nor Lana were emphasized, so to think they could have reasonably entered the title picture and provided credible threats to Charlotte is far-fetched.
The arrival of The Riott Squad spared the division a rivalry that may not have been as hot or as interesting. With that said, it may be wise for WWE Creative to resume building Tamina and Lana's union because there will come a time when The Riott Squad has been used up to its fullest potential and there will need to be a strong challenger for whoever is the champion.
Brock Lesnar's Royal Rumble Plans
Ortman also reported rumors swirling around Brock Lesnar this week.
After defeating AJ Styles at Survivor Series, the universal champion is without obvious competition for the upcoming Royal Rumble pay-per-view, sparking speculation as to what his role on that show will be.
"The latest on Brock Lesnar is that he will have a match at Royal Rumble, but the Universal title likely won't be on the line. We'll find out when he returns to Raw on Dec. 18."
The idea that Lesnar would appear on a pay-per-view card but not defend his title is a bit ridiculous. After all, part of his appeal, at least as the champion of the entire freaking universe, is that his pay-per-view appearances will not be wasted on worthless matches.
Without the title at stake, a title that is missing from a majority of WWE shows, it renders his appearance at the show absolutely and entirely worthless.
Daniel Bryan to Return to the Ring
SmackDown Live general manager Daniel Bryan will return to the squared circle on the December 26 episode. It will be, though, as a referee, as reported by Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Cageside Seats).
"Daniel Bryan will serve as a guest referee for a match on SmackDown’s Dec. 26 taping, but Wrestling Observer says there’s no truth to reports he’s been cleared to wrestle by WWE."
It is a massive disappointment for fans of Bryan expecting him to return to the ring anytime soon. With that said, the company has finally found something interesting for him to do in his role as GM for the first time since the rivalry with The Miz in 2016.
His recent interactions with Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, in which he has demonstrated sympathy for the Superstars as they find themselves on the wrong end of a dispute with Shane McMahon, has made for strong television and suggested Bryan and Shane-O-Mac may not be on the same page.
Bryan is still an immensely popular and beloved figure. Whether he is working or not, he has the potential to play a significant role on WWE programming, and it is about time the writing team realizes that.