When you have “even stevens” booking and you don’t elevate your midcard talent, you reap what you sow.
With Seth Rollins tearing his ACL/MCL and being out at least past Wrestlemania, likely till Summerslam if not longer, there is a glaringly obvious gaping hole in the list of “stars” active on the WWE roster. But first, let’s go through the current injured/missing list:
- Daniel Bryan – concussion; return unknown
- Goldust – shoulder; return unknown
- John Cena – rest/time off (because Superman doesn’t get hurt); returning in December
- Randy Orton – dislocated shoulder; 3+ months
- Rusev – torn bicep; 1-3 months
- Seth Rollins – torn ACL/MCL; 6-9 months
- Sting – neck; return unknown
- Tyson Kidd – spinal cord; return unknown
Now subtract Goldust and Kidd, that’s SIX MAJOR PERFORMERS not on the active roster right now, all of them (except Cena and maybe Rusev) will not be back until the new year, if at all. And given four of those names are main event talent in Bryan, Cena, Orton and Rollins, how many people left on the roster would you actually consider main event talent? Personally, I’d say only one. Brock Lesnar, and as far as I’m concerned, WWE should not be calling him up to fill the void. Keep him on the path he’s planned for.
Now I’m not supporting all these injuries, but in a weird way this stretch could be a blessing in disguise for wrestling fans. With all the major players out for the foreseeable future, this gives a number of talent the chance to get out of midcard hell for at least a couple months and have the opportunity to show they belong up there, or grab the brass ring Vince still claims is a thing. You have guys like Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose and even Roman Reigns (if done properly) who are just salivating for the chance to show they belong at the top of the mountain. This tournament for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Survivor Series should be that opportunity.
Of course for Seth Rollins, this is not a good injury at all, which makes the many people saying this is great for Rollins rather unsettling. Yes, he needed to go away for a little while, he’s clearly not working as a hell, the Authority angle has killed his character except for the fact that he is pretty much the best in-ring performer they have. But a year-long injury that could lower his agility and mobility for the rest of his career is not the way anyone should have envisioned for him, nor should they believe it’s a good thing for him. We all talk endlessly about the crazy high-flying moves he is capable of doing, especially as a face. But an injury like that could very easily reduce what he can do in the ring from now on. If an injury was the only way to get Rollins away from the terrible booking job WWE has done with him for the better part of six months, this is pretty much the worst possible injury he could’ve gotten.
So what should happen with this tournament? There’s a ton of speculation in terms of either bringing back old stars (Rey and Jericho have been tossed around) or if an NXT call-up is necessary. I would personally not bring back any old talent, it’s clearly not working ratings-wise. If you’re gonna have a new face in the tournament it needs to be an NXT guy and right now there’s only one I’d put in: Baron Corbin.
The reason I pick Corbin is really because Finn Balor is still champion and should be for a little longer, there’s no way they’re treating Samoa Joe with any respect, Apollo Crews has to a be a you know when he’s coming type of star and as far as we know, Sami Zayn is still injured. So all that’s left in terms of big-name NXT talent is Corbin. Jason Solomon from the Solomonster Sounds Off podcast suggested having Corbin take the Big Show’s spot by beating him down at the PPV and I like that idea, except have him do this before Survivor Series, perhaps the go-home RAW where the last qualifying matches are being held. I’m not convinced Corbin will get a huge reaction if his first appearance is at the PPV, so let’s give the casual and PG fans a week head start on the guy.
In terms of who takes the title at the Survivor Series there are only two options. A heel Dean Ambrose or a heel Roman Reigns. Not a Sheamus cash-in either. A babyface should not be winning this tournament, there needs to be a chase before a title win, not winning a vacant title, I’ve never liked faces winning a vacant title (ie: John Cena after CM Punk left with the belt), there’s no lead-up, it’s just a victory, the chase is always better. And with a lack of top heels in the company, Ambrose or Reigns are the only two that make it work. I’d prefer a heel Reigns to win however, only because I believe the fans are far more likely to entertain and love an Ambrose title chase than Reigns once again suffering succotash-ing his way towards a title feud with Ambrose.
The true test comes now for Vince and the creative team with all these guys out with injuries. But it’s their fault to begin with, they’ve been “Cena booking” for too long. You can’t rely on one guy, you have to create new stars, otherwise when the one guy goes down, you’re screwed. With Orton and Rollins out, you have no major heels. Who’s the biggest heel right now? Sheamus? Del Rio? Wyatt? That’s their fault for not raising talent. Barrett, Owens, Wyatt, Rusev (who’s injured), hell even Stardust could’ve been built up to be upper midcard, main event level heels, but because Vince only wants a select few in that spot, with them all gone, no one’s left.
You are the reason you’re in this position, Vince. You and whoever’s in your ear, you have created a roster that if 2-3 guys go down around the same time, you have little stars to work with. Why did the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression Eras work so well? You had almost or more than double digits in talent people would believe could be Heavyweight Champion. At this point in time, you technically have zero. Because I don’t want Lesnar in that picture either. None of us can believe guys like Wyatt, Owens, Ambrose, etc. could hold it. And almost no one at all wants the currently BABY-face Reigns there either. If he’s a heel, it could work, but we all know that’s not what you want to do.
So this is your mess, Vince. Time to clean it up, otherwise these ratings I guarantee will fall below 2.0 next year for sure.