This past week on Monday Night Raw, Daniel Bryan was officially stripped of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Having undergone neck surgery four weeks ago, news recently broke that Bryan’s recovery was going “slower than anticipated.” As a result, he has not been medically cleared to compete at this month’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view, and thus the WWE powers that be had little option but to vacate the straps.
It’s an incredibly cruel twist of fate, given the roll that Bryan was enjoying. In the last year he’s propelled himself to unprecedented levels of stardom—the likes of which very few performers not named John Cena have enjoyed in the last decade.
But fans of the former indie star needn’t worry about such momentum being lost off the back of his recent injury. F4WOnline (via Raj Giri of WrestlingINC) reports:
Dave Meltzer stated on the most recent episode of Wrestling Observer Radio that Daniel Bryan is still scheduled to be in the WWE Championship picture when he is able to return and that the "long term destination is still what the old destination was."
Firstly, it’s great that Bryan isn’t going to fade from relevance as a result of an ill-timed injury. We’ve seen it before—notably with Dolph Ziggler—but given his current value and his overwhelming popularity, the WWE have thankfully recognised that Bryan is still the way to go.
And while we don’t know what exactly this aforementioned “long term destination” is, Meltzer suggested that it could have something to do with Brock Lesnar.
Given his Streak-conquering performance at WrestleMania XXX, the next logical step for Lesnar is to win his fourth WWE championship. Many had thought that scenario would play out at SummerSlam, but would it really be such a wise idea to place Bryan in such a physical bout so soon after surgery?
Furthermore, is there enough time for Bryan to return, win back the title and put on a program with Lesnar for SummerSlam? Possibly, but not without an Attitude Era-esque flurry of title changes.
Thus it may be necessary to postpone these plans for Bryan to face Lesnar, perhaps until Survivor Series of even the Royal Rumble. The downside of this of course is that Cesaro—the man who many believe will be the one to ultimately usurp Lesnar—would have to wait even longer for his eagerly anticipated face turn.
But with no Money in the Bank briefcase up for grabs, Cesaro’s slaying of Lesnar will presumably wait until WrestleMania 31. As a result, it would almost be preferable for Bryan/Lesnar to occur nearer to the big dance, otherwise we face the prospect of a part-time champion holding the belt for a number of months.
Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself here. We still don’t know if Lesnar is part of this “long term destination,” or if Cesaro even has anything to do with this.
What we do know though is that Daniel Bryan is set to remain in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture once he returns to in-ring action. It’s a decision that’s both fair and just, while it’s also difficult to argue that anyone else is more deserving of such a spot.
Please feel free to share your opinions on this one though. Comment below with your thoughts on this news, as well as any of the issues that were discussed in the article.