Daniel Bryan has recently spoken of his disappointment that when John Cena returns to SmackDown Live on July 4th, it will be as a free agent.
SmackDown Live will feature two big returns to the show over the next couple of weeks. This week the show's General Manager Daniel Bryan will return following his paternity leave. Then on July 4th John Cena will make his first appearance on WWE television since WrestleMania. It's the details of Cena's return that have got Daniel Bryan a little hot under the collar however as when Big Match John returns, he will be a free agent rather than exclusive property of SmackDown Live as he has been since the draft last July.
John Cena's return has been advertised across both Raw and SmackDown Live over the last couple of weeks, and while it hasn't been made clear exactly what Cena's free agency will allow him to do it seems like it means he will be allowed to go between both Monday and Tuesday nights whenever he sees fit. Cena was seen as a big get for SmackDown Live during last year's draft and it's the back tracking now taking place that has led to Bryan being a little frustrated.
Daniel Bryan was recently interviewed by Fox Sports and the topic of Cena's return arose. Bryan was very outspoken when it came to the subject of John's free agency as well as how WWE sees SmackDown Live in comparison to Raw. The SmackDown GM said that "the WWE, as a corporate entity, puts Raw first" and that "SmackDown Live is always kind of playing second fiddle." Bryan wasn't completely down beat though and went on to say "if we can optimize the men and women we have right now, I think we can put on a product that is much better than Raw."
Having a certain Superstar who is free to move between both Raw and SmackDown isn't a new concept in WWE. As early as the first ever draft in 2002, Stone Cold Steve Austin was allowed to wander freely between shows, and nowadays stars like The Undertaker and The Rock aren't tied down to a certain night of the week. Considering the lull in viewing figures for both shows as of late, it's unsurprising that Vince McMahon would want to have a returning John Cena at his disposal on both Mondays and Tuesdays in an attempt to boost ratings.
The draft has been very much hit and miss so far as we rapidly approach the first anniversary of its latest manifestation. For the most part allowing Superstars to jump between shows waters down the fact they are supposed to be separate, and giving Cena the ability to float between both shows will likely not help that. With that in mind as well as Bryan's comments about WWE favoring Raw, it is easy to see where the SmackDown Live GM is coming from.