This week, the WWE Heavyweight Championship scene was suddenly thrown into a blender when WWE champ Seth Rollins tore his knee apart during a match with Kane in Europe. With one of WWE’s big four pay-per-view events, Survivor Series, only weeks away, and mere months before the beginning of WWE’s vaunted “Wrestlemania Season,” the timing, seemingly, couldn’t be worse.
WWE first reported that Rollins had torn his ACL, his MCL, and his medial meniscus, would be looking at undergoing knee surgery, and would likely be out six to nine months. Subsequently, the championship is to be vacated and a tournament to crown a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion is scheduled to take place at Survivor Series. In addition, Rollins, depending on the progress of his rehabilitation, is in danger of missing Wrestlemania 32 in Dallas. Not only is it WWE’s signature show of the year but Wrestlemania 32 stands to potentially be the biggest of all time as Vince McMahon attempts to break the 100,000 spectator mark.
Many say the timing couldn’t be worse. WWE is already thin at the main event level. John Cena is on a much-needed hiatus, Randy Orton is nursing a shoulder injury, and WWE’s biggest attraction, Brock Lesnar, is seeing his already limited dates used sparingly leading into the road to Wrestlemania. Rollins was in the middle of a historic championship run, having won the championship by cashing in his Money In The Bank title contract at last year’s Wrestlemania.
But, as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin himself pointed out to 105.3 The Fan Dallas/Ft. Worth at WWE’s Wrestlemania 32 ticket party at AT&T Stadium, Rollins’ injury creates an opportunity for a rising star to grab that proverbial brass ring and for WWE to create new stars, just as they did during Austin’s “Attitude Era” when “Stone Cold’s” neck injury and surgery kept him out of the ring for a year, enabling Triple H and The Rock to ascend.
WWE has a tremendous opportunity to make another star on their hands. Of course, they could also play it safe. It would be interesting to see the WWE Heavyweight Championship on someone new, like Bray Wyatt or Dolph Ziggler, but it is far more likely WWE plays it safe. The following are the most likely outcomes.
The WWE World Heavyweight Championship lands on either Roman Reigns, or his fellow Shield brother, Dean Ambrose. Since having Rollins cash in and pin a prone Reigns at this year’s Wrestlemania — just as it appeared the “Samoan Bad A**” was ready to overcome the onslaught of “The Beast,” Brock Lesnar — WWE has put extra effort into ensuring Reigns’ credibility with the audience, which has, in turn, resulted in a massive swell of popularity for Reigns. All signs pointed to an ensuing Rollins/Reigns rivalry, never truly resolved from Rollins turning his back on Reigns and effectively ending the Shield. Many news sites insist that Reigns was due to take the title off of Rollins, likely at the Royal Rumble. A safe bet would be Reigns overcoming however many people stand in his way and winning the championship the hard way.
Standing in his way would be Ambrose, whose popularity continues to skyrocket and who can be as effective as a villain or a hero. WWE could elect to shake things up by turning one of these men heel, and with all the effort put into Reigns, safer money would be on Ambrose. Then, instead of former Shield members Rollins and Reigns squaring off, you get the intriguing program of Reigns vs Ambrose.
Waiting in the wings like a vulture is the “Celtic Warrior,” Sheamus, who currently has possession of the Money In The Bank contract. WWE would have a logical and safe bet here if they were to have a someone like Reigns finally win the big one, only to have Sheamus come in and immediately rip it from him, causing Reigns to have to chase yet again. In this scenario, anyone, really, can be in Reigns’ spot — Ziggler, Owens, you name it — only for Sheamus to wipe it away.
Then, of course, there’s always this guy. WWE could beef up Lesnar’s contract and pay him for added dates and elect to put the belt back on Brock, allowing him to carry it all the way up to Wrestlemania and the inevitable Lesnar/Reigns rematch. No matter how it shakes out at Survivor Series, I absolutely look forward to a conclusive rematch between the two, with Reigns finally overcoming “The Conquerer,” and claiming his spot at the top of the WWE food chain.
WWE Survivor Series airs Sunday, November 22, live on the WWE Network.
[Photo via WWE]