In just the last year alone, the WWE and NXT have sustained injuries to some of the industry’s biggest stars. Dating back to last September, Sting, John Cena, Randy Orton, Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Seth Rollins, Neville, Erick Rowan, Sami Zayn, and Hideo Itami have all been forced to the sidelines due to injury.
And now, we can add Austin Aries to that list.
Aries arrived in NXT in March of this year, engaging in feuds with Baron Corbin, No Way Jose, and Shinsuke Nakamura. He was introduced to the NXT Universe as a babyface who had established a reputation for his work in TNA and Ring of Honor. He’s proven to be more effective as a heel and was quickly turned just three months after his debut.
His latest program pitted him in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament as a way to introduce Roderick Strong to NXT. The two had partnered together in tag teams and stables in ROH and TNA, and it only made sense to continue that lineage under the WWE umbrella. Unfortunately, the initial pairing will have to be dissolved for the time being. As noted, Aries suffered an injury last week and was forced to miss the rest of the tournament.
Now, according to Sportskeeda, the injury is far worse than originally expected. Aries suffered an orbital fracture as a result of a stiff kick to the face from NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura at an NXT live event. Below, you can see a graphic picture that Aries posted to social media, which by his levity led many to believe he’d be back in the ring soon. However, he will require surgery and miss the remainder of 2016 at the very least.
A smile and a wink for y'all. pic.twitter.com/RBCdTqJARt— Austin Healy Aries (@AustinAries) October 27, 2016
As noted, the injury occurred at an NXT live event in California, and the surgery is set to take place this week in Birmingham, Alabama. Below, you can see a video account of the exact moment the injury took place, forcing the referee to throw up the “X” sign to the back and call off the rest of the match.
Report:— Slice Wrestling (@EntSlice) October 27, 2016
Austin Aries Suffered A Severe Eye Injury After Taking A Brutal Kick To The Face From Shinsuke Nakamura pic.twitter.com/bSUtgM1aAX
NXT continued the tapings for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic last week. Aries did show up but obviously did not compete. NXT GM William Regal booked Roderick Strong in a singles match against Shane Thorne of TM-61, where the winner advanced his team in the tournament. Thorne won and TM-61 moved on as a way to write off Aries, but it’s unknown where Strong goes from here with NXT Takeover: Toronto looming at the end of the month.
Aries was brought to NXT as an established star who could help sell tickets and continue the transition when the brand’s top stars were called up to the main roster. We noted last week that Nakamura was pinpointed as the new flag bearer of NXT, replacing Finn Balor. Much to the chagrin of wrestling fans, that means Shinsuke won’t be promoted to RAW or SmackDown anytime soon.
The expectation has been that much like Balor replaced Kevin Owens and Nakamura and Samoa Joe stepped in for Finn, Austin Aries would be among those considered next in line to headline NXT cards when Nakamura and Joe were finally promoted. That group would also include Bobby Roode and Hideo Itami if the latter is able to remain healthy himself. Itami is in the midst of his second stint on the DL since joining NXT.
There has been some speculation that Eric Young, recently introduced to NXT as the leader of SAnitY and former TNA star himself, may fill the void left by Aries’ injury. As of now, there are four matches confirmed for the big Takeover special the night before Survivor Series. It will be interesting to see if and how they fill out the rest of the card with Young and Strong available, among others.
[Featured Image by WWE]