The Piledriver Report 5.22.14: The End of Bryan’s Reign?
Posted by Ronny Sarnecky on 05.22.2014
Ever since it was announced that Daniel Bryan needed neck surgery, the big question has been whether the WWE should strip Daniel Bryan of the title. The Piledriver Report takes a look at this question, and what route the WWE should take.
To strip or not to strip, that is the question. What a difference a month makes. When Daniel Bryan finally captured the WWE World championship at WrestleMania XXX, it appeared that this would finally be the moment that the fans were waiting for. Daniel Bryan was about to lead the WWE as its champion with a legitimate title reign. Finally, he wasn't going to be a one day champion. Bryan was going to get a shot to be the face of the company.
In the beginning of April, things couldn't have looked better for Bryan. He was about to wrestle twice at WrestleMania XXX. Daniel was set to marry Brie Bella less than a week later. He was on the top of the world. However, he wouldn't be there for long.
Shortly after his wedding day, his father tragically passed away. Now, he needed to undergo the knife, and get neck surgery. It was a significant nerve issue that required minimally invasive surgery. This was a procedure called a cervical foraminotomy, which is to decompress the nerve root.
The WWE has been very secretive as to how long the WWE World champion would be out of action. Due to this lack of information, it has been extremely difficult to determine whether or not the WWE would strip the title from Daniel Bryan. It's a very tough decision that the WWE needs to make. Either kill Bryan's momentum and take the title from him, or let him keep the belt, and have the company void of any WWE World title matches for the forseeable future.
For at least the past decade, the championships in the WWE have been watered down to the point that they have little meaning anymore. When you heard Howard Finkel announce "And NEEEEEEW WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION," you knew that you were witnessing history. The same could be said for the tag team titles. The only belt that hasn't been watered down to prop status is the WWE championship. The fans still care greatly about that title.
For years, the WWF Champion was the face of the company. Today, despite John Cena being view as the "face," the WWE tries to make the WWE Brand as the true "face of the company." Probably today, more than any other time in the company's history, the WWE could probably get away without having a champion on television or on house shows every week.
Another reason why the WWE may be able to get away without having a champion until Daniel Bryan , has a lot to do with the WWE Network. Now that the WWE killed their pay per view business structure by offering these "special events" for free on the Network, there is no need to push these cards like they used to. Very few people are going to order the Network next weekend because Payback will be on for free. Sure, they may have ordered the Network because they like the idea of paying $10.00 a month, as opposed to $55.00 a month on a pay per view show. Because of this, the WWE probably doesn't feel the same urgency to create a supercard every month. It's easier to convince someone to pay $10.00 a month for a "special event" once a month, than to have them pay almost $60.00. At $60.00, the WWE had to present the best of the best on pay per view each month. Now, the WWE doesn't need to concentrate on these shows, because RAW is now more important than the monthly pay per view.
I remember when commentators would talk about champions having 30 days to defend their title. As much as I want the WWE to keep the belt on Daniel Bryan, I can't help but keep thinking back to that "30 day rule." A championship should be defended, not sit on the sidelines collecting dust. There have been many champions who had to relinquish their title because of injury. Even John Cena suffered this fate. Why should Daniel Bryan be any different?
Another reason why I think it matters to have a champion is because of house shows. I don't go to house shows as much as I used to. However, when I did I was a mark to see the championship matches on the card. I knew that the odds were pretty good that the titles would not change hands on the house shows. However, there was something special about seeing the big gold World championship belt in person. I always tried to snap a picture of the title belt whenever it was defended on the shows I attended. While it's not Bryan's fault that he can't defend the WWE World title, I do feel bad for those fans who purchased tickets to see a WWE World title match. In the stands is a child who is attending his first wrestling show. That child will always remember the show for the rest of his/her life. As happy as the kid is to see John Cena, there will probably some disappointment in not being able to see the title defended. That leads us with the question……
I think their decision should be based on how long Daniel Bryan will be out of action. If Bryan is only out six weeks, then I would keep the title on him. Six weeks means that Bryan will miss only one pay per view/special event. However, if Daniel Bryan is out three months, than he will be missing three pay per views/special events. That's a lot of big shows without the title being defended on it. If the WWE is forced to strip Bryan of the title, he must be given the first title shot at his first pay per view back. I did hear one idea that I really liked.
In the UFC, when a champion cannot defend his championship due to injury, the UFC usually has a match for the Interim Championship. The current champion still keeps his title as the champion, but the UFC awards the top contenders with a championship match that they deserved, even though the "real" champion is hurt.
The WWE can use this. At the Money in the Bank pay per view, the WWE can have the winner of the Money in the Bank match win the Interim title. Or they could use the one of the pay per views, or Monday Night RAW to hold a tournament to crown the Interim champion. At SummerSlam, the WWE would then host a unification match between the WWE World champion Daniel Bryan and the Interim champion.
The idea of the Interim Champion came from this week's Wrestling Observer newsletter. I think that this would be the best route to take. Bryan doesn't lose anything by having the title stripped from him. An Interim champion allows the WWE to have championship matches. Plus, the WWE has a major fued ready and waiting for Daniel Bryan upon his return on a title vs. title match up. If Bryan is going to miss Payback and the Money in the Bank shows, this would be the route I would take. What about you?