The trials and tribulations of Daniel Bryan have arguably been the biggest talking points among wrestling fans for the last 12 months.
Since he was screwed out of the WWE Championship by Triple H and Randy Orton at SummerSlam last year, Bryan had been on a quest to ultimately avenge that defeat and become the rightful champion—which he finally achieved at WrestleMania XXX earlier this year.
However, there is now a new talking point regarding Bryan—whether or not he should be stripped of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship he won in such style at WrestleMania.
It is likely that a decision will be made over the future of the championship before the upcoming Payback, but certain factors suggest that the smartest decision would be to keep the strap on Bryan whilst he recovers from neck surgery.
People will argue that the main reason Bryan should retain the belt is that he simply deserves having some faith invested in him, given how he has been knocked down so often over the past year.
And whilst that is a fair point, there is even more to suggest that Daniel Bryan must not be stripped of the championship. Just by looking at the remainder of the card for Payback, you can almost see the main reason why he must stay champion.
For the first time in a long time, the WWE are close to pulling off a compelling card without even having a title match. It seems unthinkable that a pay-per-view could be a roaring success with Bryan—arguably the most popular guy in the WWE—unable to feature.
However, we are in a unique position in that we have two supremely exciting rivalries to almost offset the absence of Bryan. John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt really shouldn't have gone on this far—the feud could have quite easily ended after WrestleMania XXX had the result been different—but yet it still draws excitement and anticipation.
And then you have the big one—The Shield vs. Evolution: The most popular stable to hit the WWE in years versus a group of men who have been there and done it all. That alone is the perfect background for a rivalry of this type, but all six men have delivered in the ring—not just on pay-per-view but on all of the WWE's shows.
There is no need to strip the championship from a man whose presence will not be missed a great deal. Again, that isn't to say Bryan doesn't have any pulling power—he clearly does—but the strength of the roster and the active rivalries means the WWE do not need to be rushed into making a decision they may regret.
After all, if you do strip Bryan of the title, who do you give it to? The logical choice would be Kane, but he just doesn't seem to fit the role of WWE World Heavyweight Champion at this moment in time.
There are plenty of guys in the middle of the card who could have a go at taking on the championship, but it would be a massive flight risk to pin it on someone like Dolph Ziggler—despite how much the fans would love it to happen.
For the first time in a long time, the WWE roster looks pretty healthy. The right guys are dominating the top end of the card, and current rivalries make for a pretty enjoyable spectacle each week.
Daniel Bryan should be rewarded for putting his body on the line by retaining the championship until he returns. He will come back fitter and stronger—and in all fairness, the WWE doesn't need the hassle of changing the champion at this moment in time.
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