The American Dragon joined up with the company in August 2021, making a shock debut at the end of All Out 2021. In the same show that CM Punk wrestled his first match in seven years, Danielson appeared for the first time in months to interrupt Kenny Omega, Adam Cole and the rest of The Elite after Omega’s win over Christian Cage.
In the post-All Out media scrum, Danielson detailed how seeing the Brodie Lee Celebration of Life episode of AEW Dynamite got him thinking about joining AEW. His contract was coming up at the time and he thought the episode was so special that he decide to leave the WWE after over a decade in the company to try his luck with Tony Khan’s promotion
“I heard something over the past week or something that one of the things that really turned Punk was the Brodie Lee show. That was also one of the things that… I saw it. And so many of us loved him so much, and so we saw how special it was, and we saw, ‘Okay, we’re gonna stop what we’re normally doing and do that’. And I thought that was really special to me. So that was when I really started kind of thinking about it (joining AEW), knowing that my contract was coming up.”
CM Punk also stated that Brodie Lee’s death was the catalyst in him joining AEW – but not how you’d think. He stated that the AEW roster keeping the secret of his illness to themselves, and not revealing anything to the dirt sheets, was the start of him wanting to sign for the company. The fact nothing was leaked online gave him hope that this locker room was different than he’d experience before.
“So, again, now this kind of goes back to one of the appealing things about AEW for me, and it’s a bit of a bummer of a topic; Brodie Lee passes away. Right. Come to find out that he was sick, but nobody knew. Nobody said anything to anybody, because they knew Brodie, they loved Brodie. So, seeing that I was like, I mean there’s something about that, you know, like, if that was anywhere else, it’d be all over the internet. His poor wife would have to be dealing with that on top of already dealing with this tragic event.”