Report: Daniel Bryan's injury likely led to Chris Jericho's WWE return

Chris Jericho: one of the many beneficiaries of Daniel Bryan's injury. - Simon of Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

The Wrestling Observer Newsletter has reported that Daniel Bryan's unexpected extended absence after minimally invasive neck surgery led to Chris Jericho's surprise WWE return this week.

One of the big news stories of the week was Chris Jericho's surprise WWE comeback on Monday Night Raw, which was teased earlier that day by Triple H on Twitter with an announcement that a former WWE champion would return on the show. WWE.com also hinted that the returning ring warrior was "a cross-platform entertainer who has found numerous successes outside of the squared circle".

Such clues could equally have applied to The Miz, who had been off WWE television for several months filming The Marine 4 and it was well known that WWE were waiting for the right moment to reinsert him back into their programming. Cleverly, WWE used this knowledge to swerve the fans by having Miz appear first bragging about how he was a Hollywood movie star, only to have him rudely interrupted by Jericho, who quietly took his verbal venom and laid him out with the Codebreaker. The shocks didn't end there, as the Wyatt Family came out of nowhere and made "The Best In The World At What He Does" the latest victim of their trademark three-on-one assault. It has since been reported that Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt will be one of the top matches of SummerSlam 2014 on Sun., Aug. 17th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

Although that's not official, Jericho immediately told his fans on Tweet Secret that he's back for the whole summer, in a short-term deal that was only finalized last Friday. So he'll be at SummerSlam and his most likely opponent there is obviously The Eater Of Worlds.

On his podcast this week, Jericho went into great detail about the circumstances behind his WWE return, including having pitched WrestleMania programs with Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt late last year, the company eventually agreeing to the latter idea and going to the usual great lengths to keep his surprise appearance secret. However, one important aspect that Jericho didn't focus on was the likelihood that Bryan's unexpected extended absence after minimally invasive neck surgery led to his WWE return.

Indeed, that was the word in this week's subscriber only Wrestling Observer Newsletter by Dave Meltzer:

"With Bryan out indefinitely, that may have played a role in bringing back Jericho, to work a program with Wyatt. Jericho and WWE had remained on good terms from his last departure. They were in talks about returning for Mania season, but it didn’t happen because Jericho didn’t want to come back unless he felt the creative was in place....

Talks for Jericho to return had been going on, on-and-off, since that time. They apparently heated up about a month ago, which probably coincides with the bad news on Bryan’s recovery and the company feeling they had a top slot open. The deal wasn’t fully agreed to and completed until 6/27, the point at which Vince McMahon green lit the Wyatt program."

That theory makes sense, as even with Jericho's comeback, the depth at the top of the card is still quite weak, with the company still hurting from CM Punk's departure in January, and Batista currently busy promoting his movie Guardians of the Galaxy that comes out early next month.

Another factor may be the pressure on WWE to have a strong card in place for Night Of Champions on Sept. 21st, 2014, as this will be the first live special on the WWE Network after the first batch of subscriptions expire. Having Jericho around for that show can't possibly hurt.

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