On television, WWE has portrayed Daniel Bryan‘s neck injury and subsequent surgery as a potentially career threatening situation. In reality, the surgery was minimally invasive and they expected Bryan to be able to wrestle at Money in the Bank on Jun. 29.
While Bryan’s injury might not be career threatening, his recovery is not going nearly as well as was hoped. Bryan still doesn’t have complete feeling in one of his arms, and that’s not the greatest sign. It’s been more than three weeks since he went under the knife on May 15.
WWE covered themselves by announcing that the Money in the Bank ladder match will be contested for the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the event that Bryan isn’t ready to perform. They are hesitant to strip Bryan of the title with the idea that it will hurt his character. Unfortunately, they may not have any choice.
They can’t afford to be without a heavyweight champion for such a long period of time. The initial estimates for Bryan’s recovery were optimistic; they believed they could tread water by offering a few teases to a title switch without ever actually doing it. This would buy them time for Bryan to fully recover and defend his title on June 29 in Boston.
If Bryan is ready he’ll take on “the Demon” Kane in a stretcher match. A buried alive match was the original plan, but they decided to use a stipulation with less finality. In other words, they’re leaving the door open for yet another Kane/Bryan world title match. That should give you some idea of the depth issues facing the company at the moment.
Looking further down the road, the current plan for SummerSlam has Brock Lesnar challenging Bryan for the heavyweight title. That would certainly be a big money match, and if Bryan isn’t the champion come SummerSlam that slot will go to someone else. Cesaro and John Cena would be the top two candidates for that position.
This must be an incredibly stressful time for Daniel Bryan. Nobody is under more pressure to recover than he is, and the situation is mostly out of his control. It’s not only possible that Bryan will miss several substantial payoffs, but he may lose his push entirely.
It’s a tough business.