The news started to trickle in shortly before WWE Raw on Monday night that WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan will be out with a neck injury. Bryan will undergo minimally invasive surgery on Thursday and is expected to be sidelined for 6-8 weeks.
“I don’t know when I’ll be back but I do know I will be back,” a saddened Bryan said while addressing the audience during Raw. He will definitely miss the Payback event on June 1 where he it was believed he would face Kane in a Buried Alive match. Now, the best case scenario would have him back in the ring at the June 29 Money in the Bank show. A more likely return date for Bryan would be before the Battleground event on July 20 as long as the surgery goes as planned.
For now, the WWE has chosen not to strip Bryan of the World Heavyweight Championship, waiting to see how he comes out of surgery. If he is sidelined for two months, the plan looks to be that Bryan would hold on to the title. But if he would be out for a longer period, the WWE brass would likely be forced in taking the title from him and crowning a new champion.
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This is the latest in what has been a whirlwind of events for the popular Bryan. Last year, fans rallied behind him in support as he tried to break through as a top player in the company. It looked like he had broken through, headlining several pay-per-views but the company never truly pulling the trigger on the underdog. Then at the Royal Rumble in January, fans revolted when Bryan was not included in the annual Rumble match with the winner earning a championship match at WrestleMania.
That reaction along with CM Punk deciding to walk out on the WWE put the company in a corner where there was only one option: push Bryan as a top guy. They did just that, having him beat Triple H at WrestleMania 30 and then capping off the event by defeating both Randy Orton and Batista to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
The dream had come true for fans and for Bryan. After fighting for so long, he finally made it the top of his profession. As if things couldn’t get better for him, would marry WWE diva Brie Bella less than a week later.
But things would unfortunately change after that. Upon returning from his honeymoon, Bryan found out that his father suddenly passed away. He appeared on Raw but was visibly shaken and written off television with Kane attacking him and delivering three tombstone piledrivers. He would return to beat Kane at the Extreme Rules PPV only for the feud to continue.
Now, even that is on hold with Bryan needing neck surgery that will keep him sidelined for up to two months if the procedure goes as planned. It’s just another chapter in what has been a wild year for him.