Daniel Bryan became the General Manager of SmackDown Live back in the summer of 2016 and he has since played a huge part in the decisions on the blue brand alongside Shane McMahon but it could be time for Bryan to be replaced. There are rumours that when Bryan's contract with WWE ends next year, he is hoping to get his release from WWE so that he can return to the Independent Circuit and be allowed to wrestle again.
Bryan was cleared to wrestle by his own doctors. It was only WWE's medical staff that refused to clear him for action, which forced him to retire back in the spring of 2016. Daniel has recently just become a father as well, which is why he has missed so many episodes of SmackDown Live over the past few weeks, so it seems that he would prefer to be out of his contract next year so that he can spend more time with his wife Brie Bella and their daughter Birdie Jo. This revelation has left many of the WWE Universe wondering who the company might bring in to take the place of Daniel Bryan.
There are many candidates who could be brought in by WWE in the coming months that could be just as popular as Bryan, but there are also some stars that WWE shouldn't be thinking about bringing back. The following list looks at 10 candidates for the position going forward, as well as five that WWE should not even consider bringing back.
15 Should Be: Triple H
How incredible would it be for Triple H to be the man who was named the new General Manager of SmackDown Live? Right now, Shane McMahon has very little input backstage with the creative team anyway, so it would be interesting to see someone like Triple H take the reins and mold SmackDown the same way he has down in NXT.
There is already quite a rivalry between Shane and Triple H in real life, so for WWE to put them together and then create an epic rivalry between Stephanie and her husband Triple H would make for great viewing. Over the past year, WWE has tried everything to pit the two shows against each other and having someone like Triple H taking over SmackDown Live would definitely give the show the boost it needs. It would also set up some interesting feuds between Triple Hs guys and Stephanie's hand-picked roster.
14 Should Be: Ric Flair
The whole of the wrestling world was praying for Ric Flair earlier this year when it was revealed that he was struggling with illness. Flair was in intensive care for a few days following an operation on his bowels, which could have caused him more problems than it did if the hospital didn't put him into an induced coma.
Flair has since made a full recovery, and a documentary about his life and career over the past few decades was recently released. Flair also released a book called Second Nature a few months ago, which he co-wrote with his daughter Charlotte, who currently performs on the SmackDown roster. It would be interesting to see Flair return to WWE in some capacity following his appearance on the 25th Anniversary of Raw, which is scheduled for January. Even though Flair is unable to return as a superstar, his mind in the business would be a great one to have on SmackDown Live moving forward.
13 Shouldn't Be: Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman was once the General Manager of SmackDown and he made the show so much more popular than it once was, but it seems that he managed to butt heads with a number of people backstage throughout his time in power.
Right now, Heyman has his hands full with The Beast Incarnate, Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, but since Brock's contract runs out in April 2018 and it is currently rumoured that he isn't open to signing a new one, Heyman would be left with nothing to do around the same time that Bryan could be leaving WWE. While the company could easily decide to put Heyman back into a position of authority and one that he is used to, it is thought that Heyman has much more to offer as an advocate and it would be much better for him to be aligned with another wrestler that he can turn into a superstar instead.
12 Should Be: Sting
The General Manager of SmackDown Live shouldn't just be a face on TV. They should also be allowed to pitch ideas to the creative team and then have a say on the show moving forward. There aren't many people in the wrestling world who have more experience than The Icon, Sting.
Sting is a man who put off neck surgery so that he could give the WWE Universe the match that they had wanted for more than a decade with The Undertaker, a match that wasn't able to happen in the end. Sting is a WWE Hall of Famer and someone that has a number of opinions that WWE should respect. Many hardcore wrestling fans will remember Sting from his time in WCW before he became a legend in TNA and given the experience he has on the circuit, it would be an absolute steal if Shane McMahon is able to bring him over to SmackDown Live.
11 Should Be: The Undertaker
The legendary Undertaker has reached a point in his career now where he could be thinking of walking away. The Deadman's retirement has been hinted at a number of times over the past few years, but it is still yet to be made official.
After almost 30 years of being a professional wrestler, it would be understandable for Undertaker to not be able to come to terms with the fact that his career is coming to an end, so why not allow him to become the General Manager of SmackDown as a way to fill the gap between the end of his in-ring career and retirement? Undertaker's character would be fantastic as Shane's right-hand man and it would definitely make some interesting viewing to see The Deadman attempting to adjust to life behind the scenes instead of being an in-ring performer. Many fans would think it was crazy for Undertaker to do anything but perform, but it could be an easier option than walking away completely.
10 Shouldn't Be: Kane
Kane has been wrestling for the past two decades and much like his on-screen brother The Undertaker, it seems very likely that Kane could be set to retire in 2018. Kane has already tried his hand at being an authority figure over the past few years and it just doesn't feel as though it should be something that WWE would want to try again.
It was an experiment that didn't work and since Kane is hoping to step into a life in politics when his wrestling career is over, it makes sense for the company to allow him to walk away. Kane has been preparing for life outside of WWE now for a number of years and it seems that he is completely prepared for it. No one wants to see Kane bring back the Director of Operations character again, mostly because most of the time it didn't make any sense. Kane isn't Kane without his mask.
9 Should Be: William Regal
William Regal was once one of the best technical wrestlers that WWE had to offer. He has been able to go on to use his skills to help other aspiring wrestlers in WWE, because as well as being the current General Manager of NXT, Regal is also one of the scouts for WWE who helps to bring in talent from all over the world.
William has done a fantastic job in NXT over the past few years and if WWE really did want to play on the rivalry angle between brands, why would Shane not try to poach Regal from NXT in the hopes that he could do the same kind of job on his brand? This could potentially lead to an angle between SmackDown Live and NXT and could see the two brands fighting it out rather than SmackDown always taking the talent from NXT.
8 Should Be: Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels retired from WWE seven years ago and he is the only WWE superstar who has made his retirement official without making a return afterwards. While there are many stars who were forced to retire and couldn't return because of injury, Shawn decided to leave because he wanted to have more time with his family and this is something that he has done over the past seven years.
Shawn was worried that he wouldn't get to see his son Cameron grow up, who was eight years old when he left the company in 2010. Shawn is perhaps the only retired WWE star who is loved just as much as Daniel Bryan so it would be a fitting switch if WWE could convince Shawn to return to the company full-time.
7 Shouldn't Be: Lana
Mic work is one of the most important things when it comes to being a General Manager and it seems that one of the best females on the mic in WWE right now is Lana. She is being wasted as Lana's manager and since WWE doesn't think she is ready to be seen as a wrestler on SmackDown Live again just yet, they could decide to allow her to take over the reins for a while.
Lana isn't a person who has a lot of experience in wrestling. She was signed to WWE following the 2013 Diva Search and has a background in acting and dancing, which means that she can put on a show, but wouldn't be a lot of use when it comes to storylines and potential ideas for the show. As great as Lana would be on the mic and as funny as it would be to see her bossing her husband Rusev around, it isn't really worth it.
6 Should Be: AJ Lee
AJ Lee was once used as the General Manager on Monday Night Raw and even though she wasn't exactly good at her job because she was caught having a relationship with John Cena, she is still the kind of person WWE should be looking to bring back and put into that kind of position.
AJ Lee started the Women's Revolution before it became a headline. She changed the perception of women in the world of wrestling and she made it OK to be different. AJ left WWE almost three years ago and the WWE Universe still pines for the former Divas Champion. AJ is a New York Times best-selling author now and is married to CM Punk, but given that WWE is pushing the Women's Revolution so hard right now, why not contact AJ and see if she would be open to returning to the company where she first found fame?
5 Should Be: Christian
Christian is another WWE star who was popular for a number of years before it was revealed that Vince McMahon had disliked him and the way he looked for a number of years. Poor Christian was forced into retirement a few years ago and even though he was seen as a legend by the WWE Universe, he was never given the send-off he deserved.
Christian is a former World Champion in WWE and was a tag team legend alongside Edge as part of the Attitude Era, so there's no reason why WWE shouldn't cash in on his popularity and knowledge of the business when it comes to helping SmackDown Live. Christian currently works for the WWE Network anyway and has a show with Edge, so it would be quite easy for WWE to convince him to come back and it would be a major addition to the brand if they did.
4 Shouldn't Be: John Cena
John Cena has fully established himself as a part-time wrestler over the past year and has been able to come and go when he pleases quite frequently. Cena will probably decide to retire from in-ring competition over the next year, which will leave WWE thinking of other ways that they can include the face of the company as part of their programming.
The General Manager spot isn't something that would benefit Cena at all since he already has quite a big pull backstage anyway. It makes no sense to have him as an authority figure. Cena has so many other commitments outside of WWE right now that he would never be able to commit to another full year of dates with WWE anyway and with Cena's history for burying new superstars, he isn't the kind of authority figure that the brand needs right now, so he shouldn't be someone on WWE's list.
3 Should Be: Edge
Edge is a superstar who was forced to give up his wrestling dream when he was diagnosed with cervical spinal stenosis back in 2011. Edge was World Champion at the time and was forced to relinquish the Championship and give up a career that he had known his entire life.
Edge is a WWE Hall of Famer and has since been quite successful in the acting world, but it would be fantastic if WWE decided to bring back Edge to take Bryan's place since the two were both forced to retire for similar reasons. The one problem with Edge's addition to the show would be that he wouldn't be able to wrestle just like Bryan, which means that any angles that the WWE tried to tease that would usually lead to a match, wouldn't actually be possible. Edge was a popular wrestler for more than a decade and the WWE Universe would welcome him back with open arms if WWE brought him back to the SmackDown brand.
2 Should Be: Nikki Bella
Right now, it seems extremely likely that Nikki Bella will be the woman who takes over from Bryan when he decides to walk away from WWE next year, especially since she has already revealed her interest in the position and WWE told her that she would have needed to take up the position for much longer.
Nikki returned from career-threatening neck surgery last summer and was able to compete at WrestleMania 33, but it seems that her in-ring career with the company is now over thanks to this injury. A backstage role is something that would benefit the former Divas Champion at this point in her career and a woman in power position would definitely give out the right impression when it comes to the Women's Revolution. If anyone can get the women of SmackDown Live in line and make them the best roster in the company, it's Nikki Bella.
1 Shouldn't Be: Batista
Kurt Angle became the General Manager of Monday Night Raw back in April after he headlined the 2017 Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Given that Bryan's contract reportedly runs out in April and Batista is reported to be headlining the 2018 Hall of Fame, it doesn't take a genius to put two and two together.
Batista has quite a comfortable life outside of WWE right now and only returned to the company back in 2014 because he was told he would win the World Championship. The WWE Universe doesn't have a lot of love for The Animal as a wrestler, but it seems that WWE would be open to the option of bringing him back because his acting career could help promote the show while he could use the show to promote his upcoming projects. He just doesn't seem like a very good option for WWE right now when they have many better candidates.