The disappointment continues for WWE superstar Daniel Bryan, who this week was once again taking centre stage in a Raw ring for all the wrong reasons.
Bryan’s latest battle with injury this time saw the fan favourite reluctantly relinquish his Intercontinental Title after announcing he had been undergoing MRI scans and may never wrestle again.
“The Intercontinental Championship should not be sitting on a physical therapist’s chair. It deserves to be in this ring and in this ring is where I am going to leave it,” Bryan told the Cincinnati crowd.
“They don’t know how long I’ll be out. They said maybe weeks, maybe months. They said I might never be able to wrestle again.
“You deserve to have WWE Superstars fighting for this championship.”
The affable wrestler has established himself as the WWE Universe’s ‘man of the people’ and this announcement is yet another nail in the coffin for one of the company’s biggest assets.
It is yet to be seen whether Bryan will return to the ring and the timing of his heartfelt admission couldn’t have come at a worse time for both wrestler and the WWE.
Having won the title at WrestleMania in a six-man ladder match, Bryan and his cohorts had breathed new life into the once renowned Intercontinental belt.
With another defence scheduled for the upcoming Payback PPV, Bryan was back making headlines in the ring rather than in the doctor’s office.
It is a position he has unfortunately become accustomed to after previously vacating the WWE Heavyweight belt after needing of neck surgery, almost a year ago to this day.
For now, Bryan must pass the baton and hope the likes of Dolph Ziggler, Neville, Sheamus and co can continue the momentum that has been built in the past few months and concentrate on getting fit.
He will be sorely missed by fans but his health must take precedence.
Hopefully, Bryan will come back fitter and stronger than ever before and target a return to the top table on his return.
MOVE OF THE WEEK – Finish-off
In keeping with the usual PPV pre-amble, each of the Superstars in the Payback main event took turns to put WWE champion Seth Rollins down on Raw as Dean Ambrose, Randy Orton and Roman Reigns each gave Rollins a taste of their finishers.
TWEETS OF THE WEEK – #ByeByeBryan
— WWE (@WWE) May 12, 2015
— Brooklyn Brawler (@brawlerreal) May 12, 2015
— John Laurinaitis (@JohnLaurinaitis) May 12, 2015
— Melissa Joan Hart (@MelissaJoanHart) May 12, 2015
— Corey Graves (@WWEGraves) May 12, 2015
What a load of horse crap from @WWEDanielBryan tonight. I think we all know I deserve my IC Title back. Pathetic scenes. Jog on.
— King Barrett (@WadeBarrett) May 12, 2015
— Nikki & Brie (@BellaTwins) May 12, 2015
It may have been Preston-born Bad News Barrett who took the WWE King of the Ring crown but it is his compatriot and losing finalist Neville who is making huge waves in the company.
Neville, a product of the WWE NXT roster and former NXT champion, has delighted fans with his high-flying intensity in the ring ever since being introduced to the main roster in a thrilling Monday Night Raw a day after WrestleMania 31.
Billed as “The Man that Gravity Forgot”, Neville hasn’t quite swept all before him but he has proven a superb technician in the ring and not once has a fight of his disappointed.
The Geordie has introduced the obscenely athletic Red Arrow finisher and a combative style that belies his more obvious skills from the top.
He is a remarkable athlete and the WWE are taking notice.
Having pulled them out of a hole by admirably filling in for fan favourite (and fellow NXT graduate) Daniel Bryan at Extreme Rules and on the back of his tremendous start on the main card, Neville most recently took a run at the King of the Ring title, beating some star names en route.
Neville accounted for Luke Harper and another Brit, Sheamus, before an admirable defeat to Barrett.
Not only is his rise great for fans in his home country and the WWE but it is also further evidence of the success of the WWE’s feeder show WWE NXT.
Not only Bryan, but Heath Slater, Harper and the Wyatt family and the entire Shield crew, which now sees Seth Rollins as WWE Champion and Roman Reigns taking top billing, have all made the step up from NXT prospect to the main roster.
The latest man to do so is Sami Zayn.
The Syrian-Canadian featured for the first time on WWE Raw this week, taking on John Cena and the man that vied with Neville for the NXT championship less than two months ago has all the potential to follow his good friend towards the upper echelons of the middle card and beyond.
With the likes of Zayn and Neville on the rise the future is bright for the WWE. The future is NXT.
It was just a week ago that this column stated that the future for two of the WWE’s greatest characters, The Big Show and Kane, were at breaking point in terms of their in-ring futures.
At the Extreme Rules PPV we saw one excel and the other continue to disappoint.
– WWE TLC: The demise of Kane, once the most feared superstar of all
– WWE TLC: Raw’s flying circus lands in the UK with mixed success
– WWE TLC: WrestleMania 31 may usher in greatest generation in history
The night’s main event pitted World Heavyweight champion Seth Rollins against Randy Orton in the tantalising prospect of a steel cage match on the back of a rivalry which has gained fierce momentum in recent weeks.
While the pair were predictably reliable in combat it was the distraction of Kane as ‘gatekeeper’ which took enough of the shine off of the showdown to render it good rather than great.
Had the two been let to get on with it and let the animosity and their in-ring chemistry do the talking, we would surely have walked away from this pay-per-view with jaws dropped.
The two will continue their battles in the coming weeks and there will surely be a classic sooner rather than later but it felt like a missed opportunity inside the steel structure.
— WWE (@WWE) April 27, 2015
Meanwhile, Big Show and Reigns stole the headlines in an enthralling matchup that saw them leave a trail of broken tables in their wake.
It was a much-needed strong performance from Show, who thrived in partnership with Reigns.
The latter’s presence at the top of the card following defeat at WrestleMania is encouraging and shows how much the WWE rate him. In showing him as the man that refuses to give up and overcoming the
World’s Strongest Athlete in such a manner, the WWE also managed to sell Reigns as a rightful wrestler at the top of the table.
Elsewhere on the card, John Cena and Rusev met in the Russian Chain Match with the former successfully defending his US Title.
A sluggish affair, a lot was lost in the failure of either Superstar making the most of the weapon at their disposal. It culminated in a rather disappointing third part of the trilogy between the pair.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) April 27, 2015
A major positive from the night was Adrian Neville continuing his impressive transition from NXT top dog to main roster middle card combatant in superb style.
Filling in for the injured Daniel Bryan, Neville took on Bad News Barrett with a display that further enhanced his growing reputation.
Darren Ambrose secured a much needed win, Nikki Bella retained her WWE Divas title and The New Day claimed the Tag Titles at Extreme Rules in less memorable showings.
None of them were failures but neither did they leave lasting memories from the PPV.