Will Daniel Bryan return to the ring in WWE anytime soon?
The ball is in WWE’s court regarding Daniel Bryan’s in-ring future. The MizTV segment on this week’s episode of Raw was a way to get Bryan on television to promote his New York Times bestselling autobiography while simultaneously promoting the Intercontinental Championship match at SummerSlam. Bryan has been independently cleared by a neurologist to wrestle but WWE will not clear him. Is it a situation where they never clear him and just continue to pay him his downside? That’s certainly a possibility and we must remember this is at a particularly interesting time in WWE’s history.
WWE is being flooded with concussion-related lawsuits and they’re going to be very conservative about letting a performer, with a history of head/neck issues, work again. Bret Hart said over the summer that he believes Daniel Bryan’s in-ring career is over, while Bryan maintains he will wrestle again. We’ll see what happens but this is is a situation where WWE is the only barrier preventing Daniel Bryan from working. They want him to work but I’m not sure they are willing to accept the liability that goes with it.
What is Sting’s availability for SummerSlam?
Sting is scheduled to be at SummerSlam weekend, where he’ll participate in a WWE-booked Meet and Greet. There was talk of involving Sting in a match, where he would team with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose to oppose Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and a mystery opponent but those plans have cooled for now with the tag match being official. The note to make is Sting will be in town and WWE could use him if they desire.
With WWE NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn taking place the night before SummerSlam, in the same venue, what impact, if any, do you expect the show to have on SummerSlam itself?
It’s a calculated risk by WWE in running an NXT show the night before a major pay-per-view from the same venue on the WWE Network. On one hand, it provides an opportunity for WWE to “top itself” on consecutive nights, while on the other hand, it puts pressure on WWE to put on a memorable SummerSlam pay-per-view. The NXT shows have historically been of better quality than main roster pay-per-views but Vince McMahon is very confident in this year’s SummerSlam as a standalone attraction. If anything, WWE should be careful with the booking of SummerSlam to prevent a hard crowd turn like we’ve seen at Royal Rumble the past two years.
What do you make of claims that Brock Lesnar is “unsafe” and fails to protect his opponent?
If you’ve watched any of Brock Lesnar’s work in WWE since he returned in 2012, it’s rather obvious he’s a bit reckless BUT that’s one of the reasons he has become such a draw. Brock’s style is so physical and intense that it’s the closest thing the company has to a “shoot wrestler.” He’s one of the few that can get away with it and I believe it makes all of his matches and segments more entertaining. From slinging monitors that go into the crowd to stray car parts, when Lesnar comes out, you never know what is going to happen. That’s actually a good thing and an element I believe that has been lost by this generation of performers. I’m not advocating for a style of habitual recklessness as much as I’m advocating for performers to take the chains off and instead of being paranoid about following the corporate line, to work as hard as possible to make matches and segments come off as realistic. Sometimes I feel as though talent is overproduced and it shows.
Brock will always get a lot of hate because he makes as much as anyone in the company, while working the least but he’s earned his spot by proving to be a top draw. My biggest criticism with him to date was his reign as WWE World Heavyweight Championship that went on too long. I don’t put that on Brock either, as much as I put it on Vince McMahon not having a plan in place prior to strapping him. I don't want to see anyone get seriously injured working Brock -- like what happened to Undertaker at Wrestlemania 30 -- but by in large, at least Lesnar doesn't come off as an overproduced robot.