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Bleacher Report featured columnists Mike Chiari, Donald Wood and Brandon Galvin give the lowdown on all things going on in the wrestling world.
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Ring Rust Radio Schedule
May 20: Ring Rust Retro
Daniel Bryan Undergoes Neck Surgery
Surprising news surfaced on Monday's edition of Raw when Daniel Bryan announced that he would have to undergo neck surgery. The validity of said surgery was confirmed Thursday when WWE.com posted an update regarding Bryan's procedure performed by Dr. Joseph Maroon. No timetable was set for Bryan's return to action.
Question on Everybody's Mind: How Does This Impact the World Title?
Some initially questioned whether or not Bryan's neck surgery announcement was legitimate or simply part of the storyline. It was such a departure from what had previously occurred in the angle, though, that it seemed quite clear that Bryan was truly injured. He seemed to have tears in his eyes when he made the announcement, and it was definitely a downer considering everything he had gone through in order to become WWE World Heavyweight champion at WrestleMania XXX.
Bryan's ailment was incorporated into the storyline later in the night when Stephanie McMahon called him to the ring. Things looked to be trending toward Stephanie vacating the title, but Bryan didn't come to the ramp on his own. Instead, he was dragged out by Kane, which resulted in Bryan being taken away in an ambulance. The status of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is now very much up in the air but should be clarified on the next episode of Raw.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
The World title situation is obviously dependent upon Bryan's health. If he is only expected to be on the shelf for a few weeks there may not be any reason to strip him of the title. If his recovery figures to take months, however, WWE may have no choice other than to take the straps from him. The fact that Bryan is injured is highly unfortunate since he deserves to be in his current position. With that said, stripping him could very well be a bigger boost to his character than remaining champion would be.
Bryan's victories at WrestleMania were so special due largely to the fact that his two previous title reigns lasted less than a day combined. Bryan's march toward the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was painful for his fans at times, but it was all worth it when he won the big one. Bryan is the ultimate underdog, which naturally makes him more entertaining when he is chasing the title rather than being chased.
Stripping Bryan of the titles would put more heel heat back on The Authority, it would get fans even more behind Bryan and it would make for some compelling storylines moving forward. Hopefully Bryan is well enough to wrestle in the very near future, but forcing him to vacate the titles would be an attractive option for all parties involved otherwise.
Backstage Reaction to Bryan's Injury (WrestlingInc.com via PWInsider)
The Shield vs. Evolution Rematch Set for Payback
After stealing the show at Extreme Rules, The Shield and Evolution will attempt to top themselves in a rematch at Payback. Despite The Shield's victory, they were the ones who challenged the veteran triumvirate to another match. The two groups have traded attacks in the weeks since Extreme Rules, and it will be interesting to see how their rivalry progresses leading up to Payback and beyond.
Question on Everybody's Mind: How Will This Feud Play Out?
Few forces have been more dominant in the history of WWE than The Shield. Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins have meshed perfectly since entering the company, and they have gained a huge fan following since turning face. The biggest thing holding The Shield back was a lack of true competition, which changed when Evolution reformed. Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista are three of the biggest stars in WWE history, and they are certainly fit to take on the Hounds of Justice.
In a somewhat surprising result, The Shield defeated Evolution at Extreme Rules. Many believed that Evolution would win order to establish their credibility after reuniting. That would have also put The Shield in chase mode and given them an opportunity to exact revenge. Triple H, Orton and Batista are in that position instead, which certainly adds a different dimension to the Payback bout.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
One can only assume that Evolution has to win this match if the feud is going to continue into Money in the Bank, but that may not be in the cards right now. Batista will have to leave in the near future to promote his upcoming movie and it seems likely that will occur after Payback. If that is the case, then perhaps Batista will take the fall once again after doing so at Extreme Rules. That would give WWE a potential out in terms of at least temporarily shelving Evolution, since Triple H and Orton could then decide to kick Batista out of the group.
Another win would be huge for The Shield and it wouldn't necessarily hurt established guys like Triple H and Orton. There are plenty of options on the table when it comes to Money in the Bank, but putting The Shield in the ladder match is probably the most intriguing among them. All three members would be red hot coming off a pair of victories over Evolution, and they would all be candidates to take the briefcase as well.
Resuming the Evolution vs. Shield feud in some capacity after Money in the Bank at either Battleground or SummerSlam is always an option, so The Shield should go over at Payback.
Report Regarding Batista's Feelings About WWE (WrestlingInc.com via ProWrestling.net)
RRR Pre-WrestleMania Era Draft Results
Ring Rust Radio conducted the latest edition of its era-related fantasy drafts on Tuesday's episode in the form of the Pre-WrestleMania era. This particular era is classified as 1980 to 1984 and involved some of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the sport.
The draft lasted for 25 rounds and was serpentine in nature, much like the previous drafts that RRR has held. The wrestlers were drafted solely based on what they accomplished from 1980 through 1984 and not what they did before or after that era. Now that all four panelists have a roster, we will create the best possible fantasy cards we can and have the Ring Rust Radio and Bleacher Report communities vote on whose card is best.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Who Was Drafted?
In this draft, Brandon Galvin selected first and represented WCCW, Tom Kinslow picked second as AWA, Mike Chiari had the No. 3 slot as Jim Crockett Promotions and Donald Wood closed out the round with WWF.
Here is how all four participants fared:
Brandon Galvin (WCCW)
Kerry Von Erich
Jesse 'The Body' Ventura
The Iron Sheik w/ Freddie Blassie
Minnesota Wrecking Crew (Ole Anderson & Gene Anderson)
Brisco Brothers (Jerry & Jack)
Eddie Gilbert w/ Jimmy Hart
Fritz Von Erich
Dory Funk Jr.
The Strongbows (Chief Jay Strongbow & Jules Strongbow)
Tom Kinslow (AWA)
Andre the Giant
Big John Studd
Nick Bockwinkel w/ Bobby Heenan
The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Dennis Condrey)
Abdullah The Butcher
George 'The Animal' Steele
Don Muraco w/ The Grand Wizard
The Heavenly Bodies (Pat Rose & Tom Prichard) w/ Sherri Martel
Mike Chiari (JCP)
Bob Backlund w/ Arnold Skaaland
Rock 'n' Roll Express (Robert Gibson & Ricky Morton)
Michael "P.S." Hayes
The Great Kabuki
Kevin Von Erich
David Von Erich
Mike Von Erich
Donald Wood (WWF)
The Road Warriors (Animal & Hawk) w/ Paul Ellering
Rick Rude w/ Percy Pringle III
Davey Boy Smith
King Kong Bundy
The Wild Samoans (Afa & Sika)
Captain Lou Albano
One Man Gang w/ Oliver Humperdink
Junk Yard Dog
Mad Dog Vachon
Dick The Bruiser
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Which RRR panelist has the best Pre-WrestleMania Era roster?
All four panelists unquestionably came through with some spectacular talent, but now it comes down to how they utilize it. Keep an eye out for the Pre-WrestleMania era draft article featuring all four cards on Thursday, May 22 and let your voices be heard.
RRR Season 5 Fantasy WWE Standings
1. Mike Chiari: 260
2. Donald Wood: 45
3. Brandon Galvin: 42.5
4. Tom Kinslow: 27.5
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