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WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan injured: Reasons to be Excited and Afraid

'Excited' is the wrong word - but you've got to live your gimmick - and there are some potential upsides to a story we know next to nothing about right now. This is the ocassional series where we set our emotions aside and look at how an event will change the WWE landscape. So, as Brock Lesnar would say, let's do this!?!?

Rumors are prevalent, but actual news is slight following last night's announcement on WWE Monday Night Raw concerning WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan's upcoming medical procedure on his neck.  But lack of information does nothing but inspire wrestling fans to speculate and catastrophize about things.

So taking into account what we do know: they are telling us DB will have some kind of surgery done on his neck this Thursday (May 15th) and have elected to keep the belts on him at this time; and factoring in what we're hearing through the grapevine: that WWE is ready to completely overhaul the upcoming Payback special event to compensate for a Bryan-less card...let's take a look at the best case scenario/potential silver linings (things we're 'excited' about) and the worst case/doom and gloom predictions (things we're 'afraid' of) that could come from yesterday's announcement.

On the one hand:

1) It could be minor.

At this point, we know absolutely bupkis outside of what we've been told, in kayfabe, on Raw.  So while this doesn't feel like a 99% storyline-driven issue like his shoulder issues at WrestleMania 30 or some of the concussion angles the company has flirted with in the past year, it could also be a preliminary, exploratory or maintenance-type procedure that will only cause Bryan to miss a couple of weeks.

The booking we got last night certainly left the door open for a return by Payback on Sunday, June 1st, without much need to modify his current program against Kane.

2) Putting THE DEMON KANE feud in his past.

For the five minutes that the WWE World Heavyweight Champion was in the ring, by himself with a microphone last night, we were reminded why we embraced him whole-heartedly as OUR champion, the fan's "face of the WWE", before the powers-that-be in Stamford did.  And it's not because he married a Diva, or that he'll do anything to protect his wife from the psychotic/supernatural force that The Authority unleashed to torment him.

Another promo last night - the one Stephanie McMahon delivered before Kane deposited DB's broken body on the stage for her like a house cat would present a bird to its owner - framed the injury as more evidence that Bryan isn't an 'A player'.  That makes his neck the next in a series of obstacles our boy has had to overcome to live his dream, and the next chapter in the story that made him our boy in the first place.

Whether he (hopefully) returns in two weeks to vanquish Kane once and for all or is out for months, this forces our focus back to the underdog who won't take no for an answer.  That's closer to Daniel Bryan the man, the core of real behind any successful character.  And that's what we all want to cheer for, much more than the romantic lead in a straight-to-DVD horror flick.

3) The return of Submission Wrestling

Remember when he first returned as a babyface to fight the Nexus at SummerSlam 2010 and his subsequent run to the Big Gold Belt, back before "YES" was a thing, long before "NO" was one - his gimmick was essentially that he made dudes tap out.  His first shirt just had his name and ring logo on the front and the word's "SUBMISSION WRESTLING" on the back.  One of his next generation ones said "Sooner or Later Everyone Taps".

First of all, that's a bad ass character.  And it fits perfectly with the guy who is smaller but smarter than everyone else, who has dedicated his life to learning every move and hold so that he could rise to the top of the pro wrestling world.

More importantly, if Daniel Bryan is going to be a legit face of the WWE, working the same 'two matches a night, we need you at every house show or the arena is half-empty' schedule that John Cena does, he's going to need to cut down on the flying head butts and suicide dives.  We may moan that Cena phones it in while he's working with mid-carders, or have complained about CM Punk not busting his ass during the latter half of 2013, but to the extent that those things are true, they do that because they have to in order to do as much as they're called on to do as top guys.

Plus, if we get to start seeing this on a regular basis, I will MARK OUT.

On the other hand:

1) An injury is an injury.

This is self-explanatory, but you never want to see anyone get hurt.  And as history tells us, from Stone Cold Steve Austin through Edge, neck injuries for pro wrestlers are nothing to be played with or joked about.  It's good that this is being thoroughly checked out as soon as possible, and for Bryan's future in and out of the pro graps game, we are all pulling for a positive outcome that leads to a clean bill of health, regardless of whether it takes two weeks, six months or forces him to never wrestle again.

2) Who's gonna replace him?

Despite rumors that WWE officials weren't 100% sold on Bryan as a a top guy, they sure were treating him like one in every way you'd expect a top guy to be treated.  Standing tall at Mania, main eventing Extreme Rules over matches featuring Cena and Triple H, headlining one of the two Europe tour groups opposite the Cenation Leader...these are not things you do as part of a 'trial run'.

Someone will need to fill that role, on at least a temporary basis.  And there aren't that many options.  It would take too many machinations, and disrupt too many delicately (for WWE) laid plans to get any member of The Shield or Evolution into a solo babyface role.  Cesaro is still being pushed as a heel, and struggling to beat 40-something Rob Van Dam clean.  The Big E experiment seems well and truly done with his failed run-in against Rusev last night.  And Cena is already Cena - if they could clone him, they would have done it by now.

No, the obvious answer is a certain red-head that they made it clear was not turning heel with his performance last night.  But as much as most fans will admit to his wrestling ability and good company man qualities, almost everyone over the age of 12 is tired of the wee babyface Sheamus character.  And absent someone who can get arenas to chant his catch phrase at just a few chords of Wagner, a rudo turn for one of their leading live event merchandise movers probably isn't in the cards.

Just pray we don't get a six month feud with Alberto Del Rio again this time.

3) You never know what the future holds.

While I believe that the appeal of DB can withstand bad booking, time off and...almost anything, really, you never know what can happen within the span of a few months or longer.  Ask presumptive WrestleMania 30 headliners Batista and Randy Orton.

WWE will have to move on, and the WWE Universe will have to move on.  Right now is undeniably Daniel Bryan's time.  But will we be able to say the same six months or a year from now?  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, in wrestling like most other things.  Anything can happen though, from big returns to new stars breaking through.  And if The Beard returns to a world where Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose is headlining special events for a WWE Network with two million subscribers worldwide, and lapsed fans are returning to see Undertaker and Sting's retirement feud, Bryan might find himself in a Rey Mysterio upper mid-card role - through no fault of anything but circumstance.

Bonus afraid: Like we need another reason for "WWE desperate to get CM Punk back" stories and "Punk to return at Payback/Battleground/Money in the Bank/SummerSlam" rumors

Cause get ready for them...coming soon to a dirt screen near you.

Final Analysis (for now): I'm 25% 'excited', 75% afraid/worried and 100% keeping a good thought for our boy D-Bry.

How are you feeling about WWE and a possible Daniel Bryan-free main event scene this morning, Cagesiders?

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