Last week on WWE RAW, Seth Rollins made his first appearance on WWE television since suffering a torn MCL on the January 30 episode of the company’s flagship show. Samoa Joe’s main roster debut was slightly marred because he was responsible for Rollins’ legitimate knee injury. But, WWE officials were able to incorporate the real-life setback into Joe’s storyline of being a mercenary and Triple H’s destroyer.
The plan, of course, was to book a marquee match between Seth Rollins and Triple H at WWE WrestleMania this year in Orlando. Similar plans were on the books for last year’s big show, but Rollins was forced to miss out on the spectacle because of his first major injury since being promoted to WWE.
The Triple H-Rollins storyline is more than two years in the making, one of the WWE’s best examples of long-term booking. Things were reignited last summer when Hunter cost Rollins the WWE Universal Championship the week after SummerSlam when Finn Balor was forced to relinquish the title, ironically due to an injury suffered at the hands of Seth Rollins. Rollins spent the final weeks of 2016 calling out his former mentor until he finally emerged to set up their WrestleMania feud.
Samoa Joe was brought in as The Game’s heavy, originally providing a bridge to the eventual showdown on April 2. Joe and Rollins were to face off at WWE Fastlane, but the injury, of course, scrapped those plans and Joe wound up facing Sami Zayn instead. WWE officials held an emergency meeting two days after Rollins’ injury to brainstorm backup plans for Triple H at WrestleMania.
Those meetings continued for several weeks to the point where the top two options to replace Rollins in the role were Shane McMahon and Samoa Joe. Last year, Triple H rejected a proposal by Vince McMahon to face his brother-in-law on the grand stage but seemed more amenable to the possibility recently. However, WWE officials are moving forward with the proposed Shane-AJ Styles program because hope remained that Rollins would make it back in time for WrestleMania.
According to a new report fresh off of WWE Fastlane, while there is still that hope backstage, it is not 100 percent0 that Seth Rollins will be cleared for WrestleMania. The WWE Universe will get an up close look at Seth’s rehab Monday on RAW, but WWE officials are still ironing out further backup plans if he can’t wrestle in four weeks.
The other domino still to fall in the proposed feud with Triple H and Seth Rollins is the plan for Samoa Joe. Those backstage in WWE are working on a program between Joe and a returning Finn Balor, but they don’t want to commit to it just yet until there is more information about Rollins. If Seth can’t wrestle, he still may earn an in-ring segment, which would also require the presence of Triple H and Joe.
There is also a feeling that even if Rollins is cleared, it might not lead to an actual match with Triple H at WWE WrestleMania, but rather they’d book a promo segment which would lead to a brawl. The idea then would move forward with a match at this year’s SummerSlam, but that, too, would take some significant re-writing in the four months in between.
Another example of the WWE not completely moving forward with some ‘Mania plans was Samoa Joe’s segment before WWE Fastlane Sunday night. Joe appeared on the Social Media Lounge with Charly Caruso before the pay-per-view and announced that his plans for WrestleMania 33 will be revealed soon enough. Joe said regardless of what he does at WrestleMania, it will be “felt full force and without reproach.”
There was also a time where WWE officials were going to book a Finn Balor appearance at WrestleMania, but not in a match. One version of their original plans called for Balor to face the Undertaker in Orlando, but when Balor wasn’t cleared during the week leading up to the Royal Rumble, they changed course and went with Roman Reigns. They want to go with Balor-Joe now, but that is completely up in the air due to the Rollins situation.
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