On this week’s WWE Raw, Daniel Bryan made a much-anticipated announcement about his immediate future. The WWE, unusually for recent weeks, had trailed that he would be there, and the smart money was that he’d announce he’d been cleared to compete and would defend his title on Sunday’s Payback PPV in Baltimore.

However, Bryan came to the ring and told the shocked crowd that he was relinquishing the WWE Intercontinental title, and physically left the belt in the ring as he walked to the back.

Bryan said that he’d seen many doctors over the last few weeks, since an injury at the hands of Sheamus forced him to quit the European tour early, and said that the early prognosis was that there was no prognosis. He didn’t know if he’d be out for weeks, months, or even if he’d ever wrestle again.

While the WWE has spent the last few months downgrading Bryan’s status on the card, in an attempt to help Roman Reigns seem more important, he is still a bankable star and his loss, even in the short term, has to be a blow. More than that, professional wrestling stands to be robbed of one of its purest performers, a likeable everyman with the charisma and skills to make it to the top despite his obvious lack of size.

Where the WWE and Bryan go from here is anyone’s guess. The Intercontinental title is now officially vacant, and with the return of the Elimination Chamber, exclusive on the WWE Network, announced last night, you’d think they may use that as an opportunity to crown a new champion. For Bryan it’s another waiting game. He’s involved in the revived Tough Enough but he’s a man who lives for wrestling. Maybe the only thing worse than never getting your dream job is getting it and losing it…