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Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar in doubt for SummerSlam; What are the back-up plans?

WWE officials aren't counting on Bryan to be back until after the Battleground PPV. What does that mean for the man he was supposed to face for the titles at SummerSlam? Or for the titles, which will be decided in less than two weeks at Money in the Bank?

As Nick Bond told you in today's Rumor Roundup (June 19, 2014), lingering concerns over Daniel Bryan's longer than expected rehabilitation from neck surgery have all of WWE's plans in a state of flux headed into August's big SummerSlam pay-per-view (PPV) - and all through the fall months.

The long-term plans for the then WWE World Heavyweight Champion was for him to at this point be in the midst of a decent run with the belts and headed toward a showdown with the man who conquered The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania, Brock Lesnar.  Those plans were still in play provided Bryan could return by Battleground to reclaim his throne from whoever leaves Money in the Bank with the crown.

According to the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter, however, company officials aren't expecting him back until August 17th's SummerSlam at the earliest, and possibly not until Night of Champions in September.  That puts a Lesnar match in serious doubt, not only because of the timing, but also because the preferred booking would be to still blow off the Bryan/Kane program that (kayfabe) put the then champ on the disabled list.  If he can make it back for the August PPV in Los Angeles, he just might end up in a Buried Alive match with THE DEMON instead of anything related to the top prizes in the company.

Where does that leave Lesnar, the titles and SummerSlam's main event?

The Observer report indicates that the autumn program was to be Lesnar returning because he wanted to be WWE World Heavyweight Champion - both because it was the next logical mountain for him to climb and to continue to establish the prestige of the belts.  And, as of now, that's likely still the plan - just with someone other than Daniel Bryan:

Whoever the champion going into SummerSlam, that's the Lesnar direction. Unless Bryan can return for Battleground and win the title from whoever wins it at Money in the Bank, it would be someone else. They are going with the idea that isn't happening and that Bryan won't even be on Battleground, so the most likely scenario is Sunday's ladder title match winner vs. Lesnar for the title.

"Sunday's ladder title match" features Sheamus, John Cena, Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio, Cesaro, Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt.  There have been rumors and smark hopes that Wyatt would be the transitional champ to hold the straps until The Beard returned at Battleground.  But if the person who wins at the June 29th show in Boston will go on to face The Beast Incarnate at SummerSlam, WWE will most likely want a babyface to be holding gold.  And despite the crowd reaction he gets, The Eater of Worlds is not a good guy.

Sheamus and Randy Orton are also doubtful as headliners against Lesnar, according to Meltzer, and for Del Rio, he says, "I'd think there's almost no chance in the world".

Cena is always an option.  The other option given a legitimate chance of putting a belt over each shoulder is Reigns:

The TV direction is also clearly that they [John Cena and Roman Reigns] are the two top babyface stars with Reigns getting the mega push right now in the spot Bryan had. The difference so far is that he's booked as the guy who outsmarts the authority and not as the "victim" like Bryan was.

The wild card here is Cesaro.  The newest Paul Heyman guy was placed with the "one behind the 1 in 21 and 1" as part of a long-term plan to eventually turn him and pit him against Lesnar.  That angle could be accelerated to fill the hole Bryan has left in booking plans, but smart money says that there's no way they would think The King of Swing would be "the right attraction" after only a couple of months of build.


What direction do you see WWE going if, in fact, they continue to be without the services of the man they spent all Spring building as their 1A top star?  Who should win at Money in the Bank?  Should that person hold the belt to face Brock at SummerSlam?  Would you put the titles on Lesnar now, even for a short-term return?

Sound off in the comments, and we'll bring you any news or rumor we hear, right here on Cageside Seats.

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