Daniel Bryan, the WWE, and this generation of wrestling fans got lucky. His neck injury has turned out to be minor. That’s the good news.
The bad news is WWE has traditionally waited far too long to give the most popular and most deserving wrestlers the proper full push until it is too late and an injury cuts short their run at the top.
- Steve Austin (neck) Should have gotten the belt a full year before winning it at WM 14
- Eddie Guerrero (heart attack) By the time WWE got around to getting him his overdue second title reign, it was too late.
- Edge (neck) Although they got around to giving him a plethora of title runs, he again had to wait two years too long.
- Christian (concussions) Christian’s first WWE/World Title run should have been 2004, check the tape.
- Dolph Ziggler (concussions) Makes me take a sad deep gasp just thinking about it. Will he ever be trusted with the big belt again?
- CM Punk (knees) As time passes it appears his plethora of nagging injuries made him want to quit. He was world title material in 2006.
Daniel Bryan has been the most popular wrestler in the company for two years now. Cena sells the shirts, but Bryan sells the tickets. The Yes Movement started at WrestleMania 28 and Bryan had to wait til 30 to get the belt. That is ridiculous.
Dolph Ziggler as a heel, had large crowds in major media markets shouting for him to get the world title two years ago. The arena exploded when he won the belt at Night After Mania 2013. The man he is currently sharing dog house bitch duty with, Damien Sandow, who also should be in the main event scene, will both likely be in purgatory until another top name quits or retires by choice or by injury.
What if Daniel Bryan had to retire? What if he still does? Neck injuries in wrestling don’t just go away. Just ask Steve Austin. Just ask Edge.
Anytime a wrestler is forced to retire due to injury, it sucks. If the most popular wrestler of his generation has to retire do to injury (like Steve Austin) it not only sucks but can create a half decade dark era that the industry has to slowly dig it’s way out of (2003-2007). The next Daniel Bryan is not ready. The next Daniel Bryan is probably just paying to enter a wrestling academy. The industry can’t handle Bryan retiring and can’t rely on Cena anymore.
I would love to think Ziggler, Sandow, Cesaro, Barrett, Cody, Ambrose, Rollins, Sami Zayn, and/or Adrian Neville could get pushed to the top spot. But none of them are ready. Ziggler, Sandow, Cesaro, Cody, and Barrett could be ready by the end of this year. But they each need a full six months of being treated seriously for the common fans to look at them seriously again. Barrett is well on his way in that regard. Cesaro has been slipping since aligning with Heyman somehow. Ziggler and Sandow, what did they do to deserve what they’re getting?
The moral of the story is strike while the iron is hot and don’t wait years to put the big belt(s) on guys who get over, mega over, with the fans. The consequences are too severe. Remember 2003? I do, and I wish I didn’t. Remember 1993? I do, and keep trying to forget. Those dark eras weren’t just bad creatively, it was bad financially. How many indies went belly up because wrestling was lame, stale, and not doing good box office because the next generation of stars wasn’t ready to carry the business?
Hopefully this will serve as a wake up call. But after losing $300 million in one day, I’m sure Vince McMahon has other things on his mind.