As recently reported by SEScoops.com (h/t Wrestling Inc.), Daniel Bryan is expected to undergo surgery this week due to what is thought to be a broken neck. While this is not believed to be from a single instance, the flying headbutt from the forklift during his Extreme Rules match with Kane was a possible aggravating cause for it to be immediately addressed.
Now the status of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is unclear and will flesh out based on Bryan's progress from his surgery. Since the December TLC pay-per-view, WWE merged the two world championships, so the possibility for the World Heavyweight Championship to be the focal point during situations like this is now completely dissolved.
So this leaves many to ponder: How will the WWE World Heavyweight Championship be booked henceforth?
Although Daniel Bryan deserves much respect for his hard work and determination to overcome all odds and become the top guy in the WWE, his wrestling style has caused wear and tear on his body, even at the young age of nearly 33. His days on the independent scene and Ring of Honor created an advantage for his in-ring abilities, but a disadvantage for his career longevity. This is why he needs to take some time to rest and be stripped on the WWE WHC.
With that being said, here is how he should triumphantly regain the championship.
The John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt feud is expected to go for some time, so WWE should use the World Heavyweight Championship an element to garner more interest in the feud. With Daniel Bryan being stripped of the title, the main event of Payback should be a 20-man battle royal to determine the new champion. WWE is set on making John Cena the No. 1 babyface, so put the title back on him.
Like him or not, he draws, so being the default champion makes sense. If Bray Wyatt defeats John Cena earlier on the show in the Last Man Standing match, this gives Bray more leverage to be the No. 1 contender and face Cena for the title at Money in the Bank. Cena wins. Next feud.
The next person who vies for Cena's championship would be Batista. Again, as much as many in the WWE Universe would prefer new faces, what has to be considered is the reality that there are only a few top draws for the big events. At least for the time being.
Batista gets his shot as a result of winning the Money in the Bank match. By this time, Daniel Bryan has returned, but Triple H is waiting for him. Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan is booked for SummerSlam. Triple H wins, and Daniel Bryan is not allowed to compete for the title any longer.
However, Triple H said nothing about being allowed to compete in the Royal Rumble. The "Yes!" movement is gaining steam once more, and Daniel Bryan wins the Royal Rumble. John Cena is still doing his same song and dance, overcoming odds. However, he has a big test for him at Royal Rumble: Brock Lesnar. So, Cena vs. Lesnar II is set. Lesnar wins the match, becoming the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
This sets up for Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan to headline WrestleMania 31. With Paul Heyman by Lesnar's side, coupled with the fanfare of Daniel Bryan, this match would have no problem drawing big money. Moreover, the age-old David vs. Goliath will be in full effect, with the crowd rooting for the underdog.
Although Lesnar vs. Undertaker was one of the worst matches of WrestleMania 30, Lesnar proved in his SummerSlam match against CM Punk that he still has something left in the tank. At WrestleMania 31, Bryan wins, the Santa Clara crowd goes bananas, and we have a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
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Chris Featherstone is a writer for WrestlingInc.com. Tune in to the Pancakes and Powerslams show Tuesday nights at 11pm EST for wrestler interviews, Raw, SmackDown, TNA and ROH recap and anaylsis, and live interactive trivia. Follow @cravewrestling on Twitter.