On Monday night’s episode of Raw, the WWE opted to open the show with yet another segment featuring The Authority threatening to strip Daniel Bryan of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Belts. I wasn’t expecting such an earth-shattering moment like that to happen last night, or it would have been something I covered in my Raw predictions.
It was something that had been teased for weeks, always ending in Bryan refusing to hand over the belts and the Authority just dealing with the decision. Last week, it was noted by Stephanie McMahon that if Bryan could compete at Money In The Bank, he would defend his belts against Kane in a Stretcher Match; alternatively, if he couldn’t defend his championship, then the belts would be up for grabs in the MITB Ladder Match for the first time ever.
It comes as no surprise that Bryan will not be medically cleared in time for the PPV, but it’s still a shame that the belts had to be stripped from him for such a depressing reason.
Bryan easily had one of the greatest build-ups to a title win that wrestling has ever seen. It was a nearly year-long struggle that every fan could get behind — because lets be honest, who genuinely doesn’t appreciate an underdog tale? Back at SummerSlam last year, Bryan defeated John Cena for the WWE Championship, celebrated for a moment, only to turn around and get a Pedigree from Triple H (who was the special guest referee in that match).
That swerve ended up being the catalyst for Randy Orton to cash in his MITB briefcase and win the belt from a beaten-down Bryan. From that point on, it was nothing but an extremely uphill battle from being completely left out of the Royal Rumble match, having the Kane interrupt the three-count in the Elimination Chamber match that cost Bryan the win, all the way to needing a herd of fans to storm the ring and protest until Bryan got a shot at Triple H in a WrestleMania bout for a chance at the title later that night.
Bryan won both of his WrestleMania matches in glorious fashion, and had perhaps the greatest WrestleMania moment in decades. Now we’re here, and it’s such a letdown.
It makes sense to take the belts from him, and it’s actually quite fair. Whether or not it’s the right thing to do, that doesn’t take away from how disheartening it is to see such a great story come down to this. It’s even more upsetting knowing that there’s a good chance that if he does ever come back, he may not get many more chances at the belts because the WWE usually doesn’t put championships back on anyone who has proven to be injury-prone.
Only time will tell where this underdog story finally ends, but in this bleak intermission we’ve found ourselves in, let’s remain hopeful we will all be chanting “YES!” with a returning Bryan very soon.