Daniel Bryan has been out of action for a good few weeks now, and talk is growing as to when the WWE World Heavyweight Champion will return from injury.
Since Stephanie McMahon's declaration that the title will be vacated if Bryan cannot compete at the upcoming Money in the Bank pay-per-view, there is a growing feeling among wrestling fans that we could see a new champion sooner, rather than later.
There has been no fixed timescale on Bryan's return, as is often the case with such a delicate injury. However, according to the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (F4WOnline.com subscribers-only link, h/t WrestlingInc.com), things are going much slower than expected, and we may not see Bryan back for some time. Not only is he not making the expected gains in strength in the arm that was affected by the neck injury, but he's actually lost strength.
If the reports are true, then this is quite a substantial development for the future of the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Chances are, Bryan would have retained the belt for a good few months had he not been injured. This new situation means that WWE Creative will be forced to swerve in a massively different direction.
Stephanie McMahon's decision is likely to be one that is set in stone, and it should mean that Bryan is stripped of the belt at Money in the Bank. That would mean a new champion will be crowned at the show, with the WWE having to be careful in picking the right man.
Naturally, Cesaro looks like the best candidate to pick up the belt, but his character is in limbo right now. That is the problem facing the company should Bryan not return in time: A rushed decision can often become a disastrous one in the long run.
With Cesaro a likely champion in the future, it is unclear as to whether the time is now for the Swiss Superman. He can certainly pull off a title reign in the immediate future, but given that it is probably not in the plans with immediate effect, it has to be considered a risky move.
It is certainly a worrying sign that Bryan is losing strength in his arm, should the reports be true. With such a great deal of faith invested in him over the past few months, it would be a disaster for the WWE if their number one guy takes too long to get back up to full fitness.
If a change of champion is going to happen at Money in the Bank, the company have to be very careful that they pin it on the right guy for Bryan's eventual return.