According to a May 21 report from Cageside Seats, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan returns to action next week at WWE Monday Night Raw in Knoxville, less than a month after undergoing neck surgery. Bryan, 32, has been sidelined for several weeks due to a lingering neck injury, but he had surgery to correct the issue and it apparently went well enough for him to return to action this week.
Bryan was scheduled to miss up to two months of WWE house shows and special events while recovering from surgery. However, his neck surgery was a complete success, and he may now be able to compete inside the ring as soon as next month's WWE Payback special event. It's not clear at present time if Bryan will actually be battling in a match at WWE Monday Night Raw in Knoxville, or if he'll be making a quick cameo on the mic.
There's a chance the WWE simply scripts him to make a cameo and put in some work that isn't too physically demanding. The last thing they want is to push him back too soon and have him get injured again. Even if Bryan makes a quick cameo, that should be good enough for the WWE to leave him as champion. Since Bryan was expected to be out for two months, the rumor was that Stephanie McMahon and the WWE brass would be stripping him of his world championship belt.
The WWE needs a champion that is active, so having Bryan out for two months wouldn't have been good for business. There was some speculation that the WWE would be awarding the heavyweight championship belt to Kane or Triple H, but McMahon held off on that.
She appeared on last week's episode of WWE Monday Night Raw to announce that Bryan would be forced to appear in Knoxville to give up the belt while he recovers. So now WWE Universe knows that Bryan will, in fact, be appearing in Knoxville. However, it's unclear if he'll give up the belt or how the WWE plans to use him at the event.
Bryan is one of the WWE's biggest stars, so even if he is stripped of the title, he should be right back in the mix to earn the belt just as soon as he's ready to compete. The "Yes! Movement" is stronger than ever, and Bryan is an incredibly marketable star. Time will tell how the WWE decides to play it.