A few weeks ago, I wrote about how a honeymoon and his father's death had created a speed bump for Daniel Bryan's title reign. On Monday, he announced an even bigger problem: he has to undergo surgery.
Bryan came out to the ring looking extremely serious on Monday. He went through a speech talking about everything he's overcome to get to this point, similar to some of the other speeches he's made lately. Then he dropped the bombshell that he will have surgery on his neck on Tuesday. As it turned out, this was legit and not just a storyline, and Bryan will indeed be taking some time off to have this surgery.
Now, the good news first: Apparently this will not be an overly invasive procedure. If all goes well, there's even a shot that he could be back in a few weeks. Considering how much time can be lost for neck surgery, this is a relief. When he first announced it, there was definite concern that this could be a much, much longer layoff.
The WWE also deserves some credit. Before the past few years, there's no way the champion would be able to take off for minor surgery in the middle of his title reign. But this is the second time we've seen this, as CM Punk also took some time off at the end of 2012. It just shows how much more important the wrestlers' health is.
Now, the bad news: Even assuming this all does go off well, and Bryan's only gone for a few weeks, that means that he will have barely had any TV time for two months after Wrestlemania, and the time he did have was spent being terrorized by Kane.
I don't care who you are, that's going to affect your momentum. We saw last year what happened to Dolph Ziggler after he had a concussion. He was off TV for a few weeks, and when he came back, he had lost most of his momentum. He lost his title shortly after, and he quickly fell down the totem pole. Any sort of fall-off at this point would hurt Bryan's career.
As wrestling fans, we're always hoping for surgeries to go well. However, this one seems to have higher stakes. It's not just in the storyline that he's overcome so much, it feels like he's overcome that much in reality as well, and it would be horribly unfair for it to all come crashing down because of injury. So we'll wait and see, and hopefully when he returns, it will be like he never left.
The Rest of RAW:
- The Shield was made to look extremely strong on RAW. On three separate occasions, the group got the upper hand on Evolution. In the opening segment, they were able to race out to the parking lot when Evolution arrived, and left them laying. Then, in the middle of he show, with Evolution running them down verbally, The Shield once again came out and cleared the ring. Finally, the main event was Batista vs. Roman Reigns, which eventually degraded into a brawl between the two groups. About 10 other heels ran out and helped Evolution get the upper hand, but when it seemed like once again Evolution would end up standing tall, Roman Reigns burst out, nailed a spear on Triple H, and the group rallied to clear the ring, hit a triple power bomb on Ryback, and a Superman punch on Heath Slater as Evolution bailed to the stage. After The Shield demanded a match at Payback, Evolution eventually accepted it. It's being built slightly oddly, and Triple H even referred to that, with The Shield being the ones wanting revenge on Evolution, despite them winning at Extreme Rules. I also assume that in the upcoming weeks, we'll get some sort of added stipulation.
-John Cena and the Usos beat the Wyatt Family. This came after the Wyatts won in the same match on Smackdown. We know that Bray and Cena will presumably end their feud at Payback, and it was announced on RAW that it would be a Last Man Standing match. I've been saying that Harper and Rowan would be the one to eventually beat the Usos, so I wonder if that's going to happen sometime sooner rather than later.
-The WWE really likes to have subtle (or less-than-subtle) parodies of current events on their shows. On RAW, they had what many, including myself, took as a parody of the Twitter outrage over the Michael Sam kiss during the NFL draft this weekend. After Dolph Ziggler beat Fandango, Fandango and Layla kissed in the ring while JBL was "outraged", saying that kids watch the program.
-Before a match between Alicia Fox and Paige, Fox ran down Paige, and talked about how she had alienated the rest of the divas locker room, and how they don't want her there. Not quite sure where they're going with it, but I hope it's not going to turn into the rest of the locker room bullies the new kid Paige. She's the champion and should be bigger than that. Paige won with a surprise Paige Turner after Alicia dominated most of the match. After the match, Alicia Fox got angry and threw things around the ringside area. So, maybe they're finally giving Fox some sort of personality.
-Cody beat Sandow with a rake of the eyes. His frustrations with losing are clearly going to drive him to cheat, and you can expect that will turn into a heel turn down the line.
-Rob Van Dam beat Jack Swagger. Before the match, Zeb Colter ranted against Rose and his party, and added him to his "Deportation List". The party came down to the ring, and Rob Van Dam quickly took advantage with a kick and a Five-Star Frog Splash.
-Hacksaw Jim Duggan came out to pump up the crowd (and plug Legends House), which of course brought out Lana and Rusev. However, before Rusev could get his hands on Duggan, Big E ran out for the save. This should be an interesting feud/match, as this is the first time Rusev has really had a feud with anybody near his size.
-Nikki Bella beat Natalya in a match that stemmed from a segment on Total Divas. I don't have any issues with using the show to cross into RAW, though I question why these two were fighting when they're both supposedly faces. Then again, the face/heel dynamic has always been blurry with divas. I also don't get why the other divas were outside the ring scoring the moves of the matches.
-Sheamus beat Curtis Axel and Ryback in separate matches, one after the other. I have to say, Rybaxel's antics, which included flipping a coin to decide who got to face Sheamus first, are growing on me.