Last night on Raw the WWE Universe were shocked to learn that Daniel Bryan needed to take time off and was scheduled to have neck surgery this Thursday. I’m gutted for two reasons; firstly Bryan has worked so hard to get to the top of the card and it feels like that has now been snatched away. And secondly I was looking forward to seeing him this week when WWE return to the UK. However I totally understand Bryan needs this surgery and I’d rather see him get the surgery and remain healthy than work through it and do more damage to himself. But what does WWE do about the World Heavyweight Championship with no one quite knowing just how long he will be out of action.
The first question is does Bryan drop the title? After all the effort Bryan put in to get to the top of the card and the build up to his Wrestlemania moment with the booking from Summerslam onward it almost feels like an injustice to Bryan if he has to drop the title. But ultimately the championship needs to be defended and if Bryan is out for an extended period then it’s more likely he receives the Dolph Ziggler treatment in his first defense back any way and loses the title. I have the feeling Bryan is only holding the title till WWE are ready to call on Brock Lesnar to take the strap, and that saddens me a little but I look at it that at least Bryan is getting his chance at the top to show what he can do as champion.
Then there’s the question of does Bryan keep the title? After all when CM Punk got injured back at the end of 2012 during his historic 434 day title reign they kept it on Punk, although I think it’s no secret he was pretty much holding it for Rock. If they can do it for Punk then why not do it for Bryan? And given the fact there isn’t a time table for his return in place WWE could be seen as jumping the gun a little if they went ahead and took the title from Bryan at this stage. By at least waiting until there’s a date for Bryan to return it means the fans will remain happy, and if the news is bad for Bryan’s time out it will soften the blow for many.
Thinking from a long term story line context and where WWE go when Bryan returns, would dropping the title be of help? While it could be seen as a negative by many it gives WWE the chance to do the under dog story all over again and gives the fans something to watch for with Bryan having to climb the mountain and beat all the obstacles again like we saw when Stone Cold chased the title in the Attitude Era. It doesn’t have to be booked the same but if WWE can get the fans to buy into Bryan’s struggle again from an emotional and real stand point then Bryan could gather even more momentum than he has right now. It’s also ready made to really build the Authority as stronger heels and give the fans even more reason to get on their backs, especially when Bryan comes back and is forced to start from the bottom of the ladder.
On the flip side of that what would keeping the championship on Bryan do for the title and mean for Bryan in the long run? Well for one it keeps the fans happy and at least shows that WWE have faith in Bryan as champion in the long run. You could argue that if you keep the title on a guy with an injury it can devalue the title but in Bryan’s case we all know he is a strong in ring wrestler and has not only earned the championship but he can legitimize his run as champion through his in ring work.
Do I think he should be striped of the championship? As much of a fan of Daniel Bryan as I am I believe the answer is yes. You literally have a ready made story line in which you can emotionally involve your fans from the point of drawing serious heat for the Authority and give a return Daniel Bryan even stronger momentum to run with than he has right now. While we don’t truly know how long Bryan is going to be out for and it’s easy to jump to early conclusions I think WWE has to look at the long term solution here and at what is ironically “Best for Business”. For me, as much as I would hate the decision, I think the only answer is to strip Bryan of the championship and give the fans another big pay off when Bryan returns. The one note I want to end on is simple and is to Daniel Bryan; I want to wish you the best of luck with your surgery and I hope you have a safe and speedy recovery so you can come back bigger and better than ever to entertain the WWE Universe and continue to build the momentum of the Yes Movement.
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