Daniel Bryan’s WWE Title Reign: Great Expectations, Greater Disappointment
Just over a month ago, we watched as Daniel Bryan won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania XXX, and we delighted in seeing our beloved underdog reach the mountaintop.
Did we see the peak? Was the thrill of the chase better than the tension of defending the spoils?
I started a piece last week with those words, however, it never got posted, because my complaints about how Daniel Bryan was being booked like CM Punk (destined to face a ton of second-tier opponents instead of bursting the John Cena bubble of omnipotence) went out the window last night in the face of much worse news.
Daniel Bryan needs neck surgery. Just writing that sentence is enough to make me feel a little queasy. And honestly, hasn’t he had a bad enough month? He won the title, married a gorgeous woman, and honeymooned in Hawaii. Then he came back, his father died, and then Connor the Crusher, the young terminally ill kid that was his inspiration, died too. How could it get worse? Well, it did.
Apparently this surgery is supposed to be a light fix, but I remember how Kurt Angle got a light fix that turned into successively bigger fixes, and I’m concerned. The same went for Edge, who ended up having to retire prematurely. Chris Benoit, whose style Bryan has emulated, also suffered neck injuries requiring surgery. Just a couple of months ago, on his podcast, Steve Austin told Bryan that he needed to throttle back some of his big moves, like the forward missile dropkick and the diving headbutt, and use them at big events, not as an every night moveset. The wisdom of that advice, from a man who had a couple of major neck surgeries himself, is becoming readily apparent.
Wrestlers live a hard lifestyle. Any decently serious fan is quite aware of this and of the dangers of being a wrestler. That lifestyle is accentuated by the wear and tear of the constant travel they do. While they work five days a week like anyone else, they are traveling every night after work. Constantly driving, flying, sleeping in different beds, all of that adds extra wear on a body that’s in a gym every day, that’s hitting mats and floors and railings, going through tables…it’s not good for a human being. Bryan may seriously have to consider the route that Cena, Orton, and CM Punk took, getting a touring bus to drive him around just to reduce the wear on his body, especially now.
There is now a major hole in WWE’s programming for the next few weeks that needs to be filled, and it’s going to be interesting to see who fills it. Does Dolph Ziggler get resurrected from the hole he’s been in since he got concussed as World Champion? Will CM Punk be convinced to return (long shot of long shots)? And, most worrisome for fans, will Bryan be stripped of his championships, his reign a mere footnote after all the work he did to become the king of the mountain?
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.