Prior to Seth Rollins suffering a debilitating knee injury, plans called for “The Architect” of The Shield to lose his WWE World Heavyweight championship to Roman Reigns, according to PWInsider (via Daily Wrestling News).
As WWE reported this past Thursday, Rollins suffered a torn ACL, MCL, and medial meniscus in his knee during a live event match against Kane in Dublin, Ireland. Due to the injury, Rollins was forced to vacate his title, putting an end to his 220-day reign as champion. Also, his estimated recovery time is six-to-nine months, meaning he’ll almost definitely miss Wrestlemania 32 and possibly next year’s SummerSlam.
— WWE (@WWE) November 5, 2015
Before this injury, Rollins was set to defend his title against former Shield partner, Roman Reigns, at Survivor Series. The injury will obviously not permit him to defend his title, but going into the event, the PWInsider’s report says the plan was for Rollins to eventually drop the championship to Reigns.
After their initial bout, Rollins and Reigns were set to square off at the December pay-per-view, TLC. While it’s unclear when the title change was going to happen, the intended direction heading into the Wrestlemania 32 season was to have Reigns as champion. Those plans can still transpire, just without Rollins losing his title in a match.
The WWE announced that a tournament will be held at Survivor Series to determine a new WWE World Heavyweight champion. It’s expected that most of the WWE’s big names who aren’t injured will partake in the tournament. Some of the rumored names include Sheamus, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, Alberto Del Rio, Ryback and Reigns himself. Therefore, Reigns can still leave the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia as champion by winning the tournament.
PWInsider added that it’s unclear if the previous plans will influence the WWE’s decision on who will leave Survivor Series as champion.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) November 3, 2015
Many people are referencing Survivor Series 1998 as a possible comparison to what this year’s event could be. At that event, the WWE hosted a bracket-style, single-elimination tournament to crown a new WWE champion. The tournament included 14 WWE superstars, all fighting for the vacant championship.
After competing in four different matches on the show, The Rock walked out of St.Louis, Missouri as the WWE champion for the first time in his career. The interesting part of that finish was The Rock aligning himself with Vince and Shane McMahon, two of the most prominent bad guys in the WWE at that point, much to the surprise of the audience.
Fast-forward 17 years later, Reigns is in a similar situation to his cousin. He’s a top good guy within the WWE, but has somewhat floundered since his Wrestlemania 31 main event versus Brock Lesnar. Arguably, the only meaningful feud that Reigns had since then was against Bray Wyatt throughout the summer and fall of this year. The rivalry saw its crescendo at last month’s Hell in a Cell event, in which Reigns defeated Wyatt inside the Hell in a Cell structure.
Now, with Rollins on the shelf for at least half a year, the WWE is without it’s most potent heel. On television, The Authority is now without its self-proclaimed “Future of the WWE.” That leaves an opening at the top for a new villain on WWE television, much like how there was an opening in 1998 for The Rock to become the corporate champion, paving the way for his surefire Hall of Fame career.
While the WWE is currently in a state of influx due to Rollins’ injury, Reigns is the odds-on-favorite to be the next WWE World Heavyweight champion.
[Image via WWE]