Daniel Bryan is has four to six months to make one final career leap while John Cena is shelved with injury.
With a milestone win this past week at SummerSlam, Bryan has done just about everything there is to do in the WWE. His career progression has been methodical. Secondary championship. Money in the Bank. World Heavyweight Championship. WWE Championship. Of course, his WWE Championship reign only lasted as long as it took the confetti to fall from the rafters.
Bryan is currently positioned to chase the WWE Championship in the midst of a feud with the McMahons. The McMahon feud has been one that helped make Stone Cold Steve Austin, CM Punk and The Rock. This is WWE's premier seal of approval for budding superstars.
And now it is one bestowed upon Daniel Bryan with no babyface competition in sight.
Of course, when John Cena returns he'll go back to being John Cena. WWE's leading man. Its 21st-century Babe Ruth. But the rise of CM Punk in 2011 proved that the face of the WWE could have more than one head.
Following his own career year in 2011, Punk dropped the WWE Championship at SummerSlam after a brief initial reign. That November, he regained the championship and went on to become the longest-reigning WWE champion of the modern era. Longer than Savage. Longer than Diesel. And, yes, longer than Cena.
Two years later, Daniel Bryan finds himself in the exact same position. After a long, improbable and at-times obscure tour of duty that has brought him to the top of the WWE, only his already-mythical legacy stands to improve.
Bryan became a superstar overnight on the strength of a three-letter word. The "yes" chant has become his contagious battle cry, the popularity of which has been impossible to ignore by the WWE.
With his overnight success still going strong, an additional four months will only solidify his standing as one of WWE's biggest stars. Especially if his current chase of the WWE Championship is successful. By the time Cena gets back, the face of the WWE could be a three-headed monster of Punk, Cena and Bryan.