High-flyer grounded ... for now

High-flyer grounded ... for now

No one has benefited more from ECW General Manager Theodore Long's New Superstar Initiative than Evan Bourne. The young athlete defied odds -- and gravity -- on his way to an impressive career start, with an ECW Title opportunity at Cyber Sunday. But that run was put on hold when he suffered an ankle injury on Raw, expected to keep the Superstar out for four months.

"There's nothing I hate more than watching from the sidelines," Bourne admitted. "If I could take off this big cast they stuck me in, I would get in the ring. But it's a serious injury."

Still, anyone who thinks this is a major setback for the young high-flyer couldn't be more wrong. Bourne has been using his newfound time to learn from WWE veterans around him and to come up with a game plan for his return.

Just days before Bourne's injury, he took part in his first World Title Match, facing ECW Champion Matt Hardy for the brand's top prize.

"Since 1999, I've had my eye on that title," he said. "Cyber Sunday was one of the most exciting nights in my career."

That night may not have panned out ideally for Bourne. He had never missed a Shooting Star Press until his contest with Hardy. Despite "eating canvas" as Bourne said, he certainly had plenty to be happy about in his performance.

"My first thought was, where's the doctor?" he laughed. "Matt gave me a lot of credit for taking him to the limit. I was really proud of my effort. There will be more opportunities for me for sure."

Bourne owes his first championship opportunity to the WWE Universe, who voted him into the match over Finlay and Mark Henry. At that moment, he knew the nine years of preparation was worth it. He called the loss to the ECW Champion a learning experience and vows he will be ready for his next chance at a title.

For now, Bourne is making the most of his time away from the squared circle. He is keeping his upper body in shape while improving the mental capacity it requires to be a Superstar, despite Mike Knox's efforts to prevent that.

"Emotionally, it's a roller coaster," he explained. "But I'll be back at 100 percent. There is no other focus in my life other than rehabilitation on my ankle and getting ready to go back into the ring and taking ECW -- and all of WWE -- by storm."

The Superstar who challenges gravity has been floored by the outpour of encouragement from the WWE Universe, which has been supporting him in e-mails and kind words while he recovers. Without them, he said, he wouldn't be able to come back.

"The WWE fans got behind me for my first few matches. They see I'm willing to put it all on the line to win a championship. There's no way I'm going to let them down."

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