There is no guarantee that Daniel Bryan follows his latest heartbreak with another WWE Championship victory parade.
A look at the history of WWE vacating world titles after contentious finishes to matches has to bring both hope and apprehension to Bryan fans.
The good news is that he has a good shot at winning the title back. The bad news is that injustice appears to be a go-to storyline and should Bryan win the belt again, it may not be until 2014 when he does so.
Bryan left Night of Champions with the WWE title, but had it seized from him on Monday's WWE Raw. Triple H believed that he had conspired with referee Scott Armstrong and so stripped him of the gold. It's certainly not the first time that WWE authorities responded to controversy this way.
Andre the Giant's WWE Championship reign in 1988 lasted about as long as Bryan's.
In a match marked by referee controversy as well, Andre defeated Hulk Hogan even though Hogan's left shoulder was clearly off the mat before the three-count. Apparently Andre and Ted DiBiase had replaced referee Dave Hebner with his twin brother Earl.
WWE president Jack Tunney held up the title afterward.
Andre never won it again. Randy Savage later defeated DiBiase in a tournament at WrestleMania IV to become the next champ.
DiBiase was the true center of that narrative from 1988, being the one to attempt to buy the title and the one Savage defeated. The story was designed to make DiBiase a hated man and Savage a main event star without making Hogan look weak in the process.
That's worlds apart from Bryan's story.
It's not a singular example of a champion Bryan doesn't want to emulate, though. Just three years after the Hebner controversy, Hogan found himself stripped of the title.
His WWE Championship match against Undertaker at This Tuesday in Texas in 1991 ended in chaos. Hogan whacked Ric Flair with a steel chair before he could interfere and knocked both Flair and Tunney down.
Flair later accidentally hit Undertaker with a chair, Paul Bearer accidentally clocked Undertaker with his urn and Hogan threw ashes into his opponent's eyes before scoring the win.
For Tunney to then strip Hogan of the title was no surprise.
The decision was to make the winner of the 1992 Royal Rumble the new WWE titleholder. Flair went on to win the belt and then proceeded to give a tremendous promo to celebrate the win. Hogan didn't win the championship again until 1993.
Bryan's controversy is far less complicated than Hogan's so it doesn't necessarily mean the goat-faced one is going to have to wait two years to begin his third reign as WWE champ.
Bryan just has one disputed element of his match; Hogan's win had a number of things to pick apart from the steel chair shot to the use of an illegal object. Having those in charge against Bryan, has his journey feel a lot more like Steve Austin's in 1998.
Vince McMahon was just as dead set against Austin winning the WWE Championship as Triple H is about Bryan holding it. He did everything he could to have someone defeat "Stone Cold" including pitting him against both Kane and Undertaker in a Triple Threat match at Breakdown: In Your House.
Both Kane and Undertaker scored a pin on Austin, leading to McMahon vacating the title.
Eventually the title was named as the prize for winning a tournament at Survivor Series 1998. Austin entered the tournament, but lost in the semi-finals. It was McMahon's handpicked Superstar, The Rock who ended up winning it, thanks to a fraudulent finish.
Austin would later win the title back, but not until WrestleMania XV.
Should WWE go this route, Orton is to this storyline what The Rock was to that one. That would mean Bryan would ultimately prevail, but not for a long while.
An authority figure overstepping her role played a part in Undertaker losing the World Heavyweight Championship in 2008.
SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero, who just so happened to also be in a romantic relationship with Undertaker's rival Edge, ruled that Undertaker's Hell's Gate submission was too dangerous. The champion had been too remorseless in using it and so had his world title taken away.
Undertaker didn't win the championship again until Hell in a Cell 2009.
Undertaker did get a championship shot after being stripped to regain the title, but lost to Edge in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match at One Night Stand 2008. This tale is marked by just as much injustice as Bryan's.
Bryan fans can only hope that the parallels end there.
Between the time that Undertaker was stripped of the title until he beat CM Punk to regain it, there were 13 World Heavyweight Championship reigns with Edge having three of them. Could Orton win the WWE title thrice before Bryan wins it again?
It's possible, but John Cena's presence once he recovers from his elbow surgery will make it difficult for anyone to win the belt at all, much less three times.
The example from history Bryan would most like to follow involves the man who twice took the WWE Championship from him.
Triple H walked into his match against Chris Benoit and Edge in late 2004 as the World Heavyweight Champion, but the finish ended with a double-fall. Edge pinned Benoit, but was tapping out at the same time.
The title was vacated.
At New Year's Revolution 2005, Triple H won the title back against Benoit, Edge, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton and Batista in an Elimination Chamber match. The situation is certainly different as Triple H lucked his way back into being champion after his two opponents defeated each other.
Still, following a controversial finish and the title being held up, Triple H returned to championship glory, something Bryan will hope to do in the coming months.
The trouble is, history is against him. Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker had a world title ripped from their grasp like Bryan has.
Months and months passed between their reigns, or in the case of Andre, it was his last. If WWE follows the pattern it has established, Bryan will be WWE champ again, but he may have to wait until several other men have worn it around their waist.
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