The last few months have been a roller-coaster ride for Daniel Bryan—both in and out of the ring.
Within the realm of professional wrestling, he has been involved in one of the most entertaining storylines in recent history, which of course culminated in his WWE World Heavyweight Championship win at WrestleMania XXX.
But dramas in the real world have by far exceeded those we’ve witnessed in the squared circle.
On April 11, Bryan Danielson officially tied the knot with his partner of three years, Brianna Garcia-Colace (or Brie Bella as most of us will know her). But just 10 days later, he received the tragic news of the unexpected passing of his father.
Ever the consummate professional, though, Bryan continued to feature regularly on WWE programming, furthering his feud with a rejuvenated Kane. The two put on a great bout at Extreme Rules, but Bryan has since been dealt another dose of bad news.
Having “paid a price with his body,” Bryan has been forced to undergo neck surgery this week and is thus facing a lengthy layoff from in-ring competition.
At the time of writing, it is not known how long Bryan will be out of action, but estimates range from one to two months to six to eight weeks. This has led many to suggest that such inactivity could force the WWE Champion to forfeit his belts and vacate the titles.
At the moment, all of this talk remains no more than hearsay. But as reported by Wrestling Inc, it was revealed on Main Event that we could be set to separate the facts from the fiction on Monday Night Raw next week:
It was announced on tonight's WWE Main Event that there will be announcement concerning the status of the WWE World Heavyweight Title on this coming Monday's RAW, which will be taped from London. As noted, current champion Daniel Bryan will be having neck surgery on Thursday.
Naturally, the assumption here is that the announcement will see Bryan stripped of his WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Of course, this sounds harsh, but given the trajectory of Bryan’s storyline with The Authority so far, removing the belts from Bryan’s waist may not necessarily be a bad thing.
The massively unfortunate nature of a forced neck surgery means that it’s impossible not to empathise with the champ. And furthermore, such a development will only make the Authority—most likely Stephanie McMahon in particular—look all the more villainous.
The outcome here is that Bryan’s eventual regaining of the titles could make for an even more uplifting storyline than his ascent to the top over the past few months. Time and again, Bryan has been booked to upset the odds and come back from adversity, and thus this latest development would only add to that angle.
Of course, I’m assuming that Bryan would regain the titles here—but I think that’s a very fair assumption to make.
While we’ve seen previous title reigns derailed as a result of legitimate injuries (see Dolph Ziggler circa 2013), Bryan’s tenure is entirely different. He’s been unanimously deserving of his world title push, to the point where the WWE had no other choice put to give him a shot at the championship.
Thus for him not to ultimately regain the gold would understandably cause outrage.
Long story short, Bryan is too valuable right now to not regain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (if he is indeed stripped of it).
It remains to be seen what the WWE would do with the title in the meantime. Perhaps a run for Kane could be due, given that is was essentially him who (kayfabe) caused Bryan’s layoff. His time as champion could be used to further build him as an unstoppable monster, which would only further add to the drama of Bryan’s eventual win.
Of course, I may have jumped to conclusions here. It seems unlikely to me, but the upcoming announcement could simply confirm that Bryan will not be stripped of titles. Depending on how his recovery goes, Bryan could return to TV sooner than usual—simply creating an angle through promos rather than in-ring activity.
But despite this eventuality remaining possible, I don’t deem it too probable.
Let me know what you guys make of this one, though. Please feel free to comment below with your thoughts on this news and what it means for Daniel Bryan and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.