What do you do when you're the World's Heavyweight Champion for 105 days only to lose your title in 18 seconds on the biggest stage of them all?
Daniel Bryan will be forced to answer this question as he heads into the new wrestling year without his championship title.
At WrestleMania 28, Bryan kissed his girlfriend AJ on the ropes before being hit square in the face by Sheamus' Brogue Kick and being pinned, all in the course of 18 seconds.
While Bryan isn't the first wrestler to lose their title at WrestleMania, this loss comes at a critical point in his WWE career. After several failed jumpstarts to get over with the crowd, Bryan has found his groove since cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase and turning heel last December.
Bryan has never appeared more comfortable in the ring and in promos than he has in his recent heel persona. With his arrogant entrances ("Yes! Yes!") and his condescending attitude toward AJ, Bryan has been an annoyance to some and a delight to many others over the last few months.
During this entire run, the one thing that helped Bryan gain momentum as a heel and stay relevant has been his championship title. At some point, he was due to lose the title and it seemed very likely that it was going to happen at WrestleMania, but the circumstances under which he lost the title will force Bryan to pull even harder to generate heat moving forward.
Clearly the next step for Bryan will be to challenge Sheamus for a rematch, most likely at Extreme Rules in four weeks. Rematch clause or not, with John Laurinaitis now the general manager of WWE television, Bryan should have no problem getting his match booked.
However, it is Bryan's interaction with the rest of the WWE Universe that will test his prospects in the coming year.
One way he will definitely continue to generate heat is by directing his frustration over the WrestleMania match toward AJ, whom he will likely blame for the loss. But Bryan's emotional abuse can only take him so far, and he will have to use his arrogant streak to carry him into other feuds.
Many wrestling fans would love to see a Bryan/CM Punk match at a future pay-per-view event this year, but the only way that Bryan will be booked in a main event match with the man who is now clearly the No. 1 full-time Superstar in the WWE is by using this shocking WrestleMania result to light a fire inside Bryan to become far more aggressive than he has been.
Longtime Bryan fans from his Ring of Honor days know how ruthless he can be when given the opportunity, so it would be wise for the WWE to invest in him further and allow him to become a more angry and powerful competitor in the ring.
Last night, Bryan appeared to have the love of the crowd in Miami with many chanting "Daniel Bryan" during the following Randy Orton/Kane bout.
It remains to be seen if Bryan can continue to ride his wave of popularity/notoriety in the weeks ahead.