Daniel Bryan’s health concerns haven’t gone away, and the WWE has been working around them as outlined here. There’s a few things we can kick around from this information.
How has his current booking been affected?
Well, for now he isn’t doing matches on RAW and has been protected in six man tag team matches on Smackdown. He’s also been pulled from advertisements on the company’s European tour. He didn’t have a long stay in the Royal Rumble, and didn’t take any crazy bumps in the ladder match at WrestleMania (which of course was a seven man match that didn’t require him to carry it). Rumor has it that he was supposed to be in the open challenge to John Cena at the London RAW taping but Bad News Barrett was sent out to replace him. He has a match at Extreme Rules against Barrrett for the Intercontinental Title; whether that match still happens and how it goes will say a lot. If it’s canceled, or if it goes on and runs short then you know something’s up. If he drops the title then you know he’s hurt seriously.
What about the future?
He’s a 50/50 proposition. The WWE cannot base anything long-term around a guy who missed eight months last year and is still iffy now. Within a year’s time he went from headlining and winning at WrestleMania to guy who’s regular availability is a question mark. And to be the face of the company you have to be there and able to work. Say what you want about Cena but he’s been out there week after week for most of his time on top. They have to be able to send you out there on every major show, year round, and right now he just can’t do that. Last year his injury (along with a few others on the roster) forced them to put the title on Cena as a placeholder and to speed up the Shield breakup and Seth Rollins heel turn. Should he have to go out again what is supposed to be a good run with the I-C title will get shut down and the belt will have to be put on someone like Dolph Ziggler to keep it going. He could be going the way of Edge in a year or two, forced to retire prematurely.
I first addressed Bryan’s style and how it could come back to bite him here. It looks that could a premonition of sorts. I sure hope not because Bryan has been consistently great for the last few years and it would really hurt to lose him. But it does show that the WWE booking committee made the right choice this year to not do a re-run of last year with Bryan winning the title again. Putting him in there to eat a bunch of Brock Lesnar suplexes in the main event could have ended his year early again or even his career. For right now all we can do is hope he gets better and stay healthy over the long run, but given the history of these kind of injuries that isn’t likely.