Part-Time Champ: The Special Treatment of Brock Lesnar over Daniel Bryan
Less than one year ago at WrestleMania XXX, Daniel Bryan endured two matches on the grandest stage of them all to claim the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. This was sure to be the pinnacle moment in the young star’s career, positioning him as the new face of the WWE brand.
It all came crashing down in little more than a month: Bryan announced that, due to injuries, he would undergo neck surgery. While the surgery was successful, the recovery timetable was projected to be a minimum of 6-8 months. WWE rules state that a titleholder must defend his title every 30 days and, on June 9th, Bryan was officially stripped of the title.
The story then took an odd turn. Until this point the WWE had, traditionally, upheld its policy regarding defense of the title. At SummerSlam in August 2014, Brock Lesnar defeated John Cena for the World Heavyweight Title and Cena would feud with Lesnar over the next month leading up to a rematch at Night of Champions.
Moments from defeating Lesnar, Cena was ready to reclaim the title when Seth Rollins interfered, costing Lesnar the match. However, the title must be won via pin fall or submission and Lesnar retained the belt. Since that night in mid-September, Lesnar has not appeared on-screen.
It is now November, far exceeding the 30-day time span in which champions are required to defend their title. Yet, Lesnar remains champion. Why? Why is Lesnar good enough in the eyes of the controlling powers to be given a pass on the same rules to which so many before him have adhered? Rules that wrestlers such as Daniel Bryan have adhered to.
I’ve said countless times that the WWE treats its part-time superstars better than those who sacrifice their bodies every night in the ring. Many superstars who have expanded their careers beyond the WWE return, thrust into the limelight. Whether it is Batista, Chris Jericho or even The Rock, this steals from those who dedicate all of their efforts nightly.
Even The Rock, who won the title at the Royal Rumble in 2013, adhered to the rules. Knowing he could not commit to a full-time schedule due to a booming movie career, he lost the belt 70 days later at WrestleMania to John Cena.
Now, on the eve of the second pay-per-view since Lesnar’s defense of the title, he has held the belt for 86 days (and counting) since last defending it fifty days ago. The length of Bryan’s total title reign, until he was forced to vacate it, was only 64 days.
We all continue waiting. Waiting for Bryan’s return. Waiting to see when Lesnar will actually show up and compete. Waiting to have anything other than a paper champion.
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