It is looking to be a big summer in WWE.
After WWE Heavyweight Champion CM Punk stuck his nose in the hornet’s nest meant for John Cena this past week on WWE RAW, John Laurinaitis retaliated by booking CM Punk in a handicap match with current No. 1 contender Daniel Bryan and a man that may well be the next No. 1 contender, Lord Tensai.
The focus of the match seemed to be on CM Punk versus Lord Tensai (and the focus of the show was CM Punk versus John Laurinaitis and Lord Tensai).
There could be two possible explanations for that. The first is that CM Punk was merely filling in for the rarely-absent John Cena. The other explanation, however, is that CM Punk may soon be defending his WWE championship and his health against the undefeated Lord Tensai.
Add to that the fact that not far from John Laurinaitis is his No. 1 project, Brock Lesnar. Fans of CM Punk and Paul Heyman are already salivating over a promo-for-promo battle between the two masters of the microphone.
Where does that leave Daniel Bryan?
It’s difficult to know where he is going when we don’t know where he is. Is Daniel Bryan a part of the SmackDown roster or is he part of the RAW roster? When we chant Yes! are we cheering Daniel Bryan or are we mocking him? (Or is it now secretly a Sheamus chant?)
WWE's response to the breakout reaction to Daniel Bryan has been strange to say the least. They gave him a new T-shirt straightaway, but they have also done everything in their power to reduce the chants in the arena.
So why a match between CM Punk and Daniel Bryan out of the blue? Why a match when after two weeks we have seen little to no build?
One reason is clear: The wrestling value of the match.
In an interview with ESPN.com, CM Punk said of his upcoming match with Daniel Bryan, “I’m just training really, really hard, not so much for size but kind of for speed. I’m expecting this one to go the distance.” Add to that statement the fact that at Extreme Rules Daniel Bryan was working at 220 percent and we are sure to see a match that challenges our expectations at Over the Limit.
And isn’t that what WWE needs on a night where the other main event is John Cena versus John Laurinaitis? Even with the best of booking, WWE cannot predict how fans will react to that match. What better way to balance the card than to have a should-be wrestling classic for the WWE Championship?
So, is Daniel Bryan merely filling a spot and buying WWE time?
If CM Punk is able to conquer Daniel Bryan after two wins over Chris Jericho, he could rightfully claim to be the best in the world when it comes to WWE right now.
But it’s funny Daniel Bryan may be filler for CM Punk—mere food to devour—because soon CM Punk may well be fed to the beasts.
To go from facing Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan to Lord Tensai and Brock Lesnar would indeed make this the biggest summer of CM Punk’s career.
And what about Daniel Bryan?
WWE needs to determine just what they are doing with him. Sure, the man who benefits at all costs could take advantage of CM Punk’s new rivalry with John Laurinaitis and steal the WWE Championship at Over the Limit. If not, however, he will need to figure out exactly where he is going next.
And CM Punk—if indeed he is headed towards Lord Tensai and Brock Lesnar—may shortly long for the day where all he had to do was prove he was the best in the world.
Not keep Brock Lesnar from knocking his head off—or Lord Tensai from biting it off.