With WWE confirming that Seth Rollins was severely injured while performing on the WWE’s UK tour, WWE has already announced that a new champion will be crowned at Survivor Series by way of a tournament.
“WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins has torn his right ACL, MCL and medial meniscus, and will not be able to defend the title against Roman Reigns at Survivor Series. A tournament to determine a new champion will instead take place at the event.”
As soon as a video of Seth Rollins’ injury hit Twitter (see below), speculation was rampant among the Internet Wrestling Community.
Just minutes ago, WWE released their official statement. As ESPN reported via Twitter, Rollins will likely be out anywhere from six to nine months. That means he’ll likely miss the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 32 on top of this month’s Survivor Series. The injury may even cause him to miss next year’s SummerSlam.
Although no further details have been released about the tournament being held to crown a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, one has to assume that it will look a lot like 1998’s Survivor Series: Deadly Games, in which Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson beat four men in the same night to win the vacated WWF Championship. At the 1998 PPV, all 14 participants of the tournament (“Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Undertaker received byes in the first round) had their matches at the PPV. It is unclear how many of the tournament matches will actually take place at Survivor Series. When WWE normally does a tournament — like the quasi-annual King of the Ring event — they tend to have a lot of “qualifying matches” and the preliminary rounds of the tournament on Monday Night Raw so that there are only four participants left for the PPV.
Another important issue to take into consideration is the number of WWE Superstars who won’t be eligible for the tournament. John Cena is on a scheduled absence and isn’t supposed to return until December 26. Randy Orton recently suffered an injury and was briskly removed from regular programming. The Undertaker, Kane, and all four of the Wyatts will likely be involved in a Traditional Survivor Series Elimination match. Sting is injured, and there’s no reason to believe that Brock Lesnar will be a part of the show. Even if the WWE narrows the field down to eight, the line-up may not look all that impressive still.
The most likely candidate to win the tournament at this point is Roman Reigns. While I think the WWE believes he’s not quite ready for that spot, he may just have to prove that he is. Currently filling in as the second biggest babyface is Dean Ambrose. Rumors had it that he would face Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Championship, but I would imagine both men will be involved in the tournament. I would expect the “World’s Largest Athlete,” The Big Show, to get thrown into the mix. WWE seems to want us to believe that Ryback is a legitimate contender, so he’ll probably be involved as well.
If we can assume four faces and four heels are booked from the quarter-finals on, I would expect either Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro, or Neville to join Reigns, Ambrose, and Ryback. Reigns will probably knock off guys like Sheamus and King Barrett before facing his final opponent, so throw them in with Show and Owens and you have your eight guys. And that’s not taking into consideration the United States Champion Alberto Del Rio.
Short of an unexpected entrant like John Cena, Daniel Bryan, or Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns seems like the most likely candidate to be the next WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
And don’t forget: the Survivor Series is known for its “screw jobs.” The last time a tournament like this took place at Survivor Series, The Rock was crowned champion, but only after he turned heel and joined Vince McMahon’s stable, The Corporation. If the tournament comes down to Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose — as many fans would probably hope for — it’s the perfect opportunity for a heel-turn swerve, with either of the former Shield members taking Seth’s place in The Authority.
The Survivor Series takes place November 22 and airs live on the WWE Network.
[Image via WWE]