For many years, WWE has executed an iron fist when it comes to the contracts signed by the performers. Although everyone who steps foot in the WWE as an in-ring competitor is technically an independent contractor, which forbids WWE from being responsible for medical-related insurance responsibilities, the wrestlers still agree to be exclusive to the company. This means, unless it is approved by WWE, wrestlers are not allowed to compete anywhere else.
This especially applies to people who quit or are released from the company. While WWE does not enforce appearances that are non-televised, the company does issue a non-compete clause for televised promotions such as Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, and Lucha Underground.
Before the days of WWE enforcing the non-compete clause, there were two memorable occasions where a competitor was able to jump to WCW right after leaving WWE. After spending the latter part of his WWE career teaming with Owen Hart and being managed by Debra McMichael, Jeff Jarrett left the company following a “Good Housekeeping Match” against Chyna at No Mercy, which resulted in him losing the Intercontinental Championship.
The next night, Jarrett appeared on Nitro and smashed a guitar over the head of Buff Bagwell. Jarrett experienced much success in WCW, becoming the WCW World Heavyweight Champion four times and the United States Champion on three occassions. He also became the leader of the nWo 2000 group.
A few years prior, Lex Luger made a surprise appearance on Monday Nitro after previously appearing on SummerSlam ’95 just weeks prior. During his return to WCW, Luger was one of the biggest rivals of the nWo, defeating Hogan on Nitro to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship for the second time. However, he eventually joined nWo as a member of the red and black Wolfpac extension of the group.
Could Daniel Bryan Be Another Example Of Surprisingly Jumping Ship To Another Company?
While there may never be another era like the Monday Night Wars, and another rivalry such as Raw vs. Nitro, companies such as Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling have been steadily making a rise in popularly as far as United States promotions. Bryan has been very vocal about wanting to compete again since he was forced to retire from the WWE, even if it means going elsewhere. Now, the stakes may have increased on this happening.
According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, Bryan is not bound to a non-compete clause. This means that he is not restricted to competing for non-televised promotions for 90 days, which could result in him appearing on ROH of New Japan right after his contract is up if he decides not to renew it.
The event that comes closest to his contract expiring is Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks’ collaborative “All-In” event on September 1 in Chicago, Illinois. While this could be a momumentous return of Bryan (most likely going back to his real name, Bryan Danielson), his contract is up after the event, which makes it virtually impossible for him to be a part of the show, unless there is an agreement with the WWE to leave earlier.
Right now, the saga continues between Shane McMahon, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn. Although a triple threat match has been rumored, fans still have hope that we may see a tag team match at WrestleMania, with Bryan making his in-ring WWE comeback.
With the latest news of Bryan being cleared by every doctor sent to him so far, a WrestleMania in-ring return may actually be more plausible than ever before. If so, it would certainly make a highly-anticipated addition to an already-stacked card in New Orleans.