Seth Rollins is going to be out with an injury for six to nine months, so who will take over as the new WWE champ? We discuss the most likely candidates…
The best laid plans of mice and Vince, huh? Seth Rollins has been the top bad guy on WWE TV even before he won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 31, but after messing up his knee real bad he’s lost the title. Who’d have thought that a guy who routinely wrestles at least one match on TV multiple times a week, plus on the road would face such a debilitating injury? And this throws everything, including the upcoming Survivor Series, into question.
WWE has announced that a Surivivor Series tournament will crown a new champion. And this is all happening when WWE’s top level talent pool seems more depleted than ever. We’ll have to wait for Raw to find out who the official entrants are, but as intelligent wrestling podcasters, Henry and Dave already know there are only eight men who have a real chance of winning it. We’ll run down the odds and let you know just who will be the next top dog in WWE. Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way…
The Case For:: You gotta make Roman look strong. Conventional wisdom says that WWE finally pulls the trigger on their new John Cena, though the better play would be for Reigns to follow his family’s path and become’s the new Rock (albeit one that struggles on the microphone). Even though Reigns has become a much better in-ring performer since his aborted title ascension at the beginning of the year, WWE should head off heel heat at the pass by making Roman Reigns the new face of The Authority. Scrap Dean Ambrose’s heel turn and have the biggest heel faction back the most bankable possible champion. Roman might not have the snarky wit of his cousin, but he’s got plenty of frustration to vent!
The Case Against: Roman Reigns leaving Survivor Series as the WWE Champion is what everyone THINKS is going to happen, and the WWE loves to change course just to defy expectation. A Roman Reigns heel turn is a good way to defy that, but if WWE still thinks Reigns needs to win his first WWE Championship as a face, getting cheated out of the title by Sheamus or a heel-turning Ambrose is a good reason to keep the chase up just a little longer.
The Case For:: The last time WWE had a tournament at the Survivor Series, it was all a swerve to propel The Rock to mega-heel stardom. If they decide against that, why not give a guy who channels both Stone Cold Steve Austin AND Mankind to finally win the Deadly Game? Ambrose’s overturned victory at Elimination Chamber also proved that the audience will go crazy for Dean as champ. His stock is high enough right now, and there’s no other active wrestler that will get a bigger pop for winning the belt than The Lunatic Fringe.
The Case Against: Even though the crowd loves Ambrose, the WWE doesn’t seem to have the same stock in Dean as they do in the other two-thirds of The Shield. Ambrose has the spottiest record post-breakup, being used to put over the likes of Bray Wyatt and Seth Rollins, so the odds of WWE finally changing their minds are low. Case in point; this past week WWE was setting up an Intercontinental Title match for Dean at Survivor Series. That doesn’t seem like the kind of guy WWE will put in the company’s top spot, now does it?
The Case For:: It’s Big Match John, Maggle. For better and worse, the resilient professor of thuganomics is always one vacant title away from being the champ. Just as when Daniel Bryan had to vacate the title prior to Money In The Bank 2014, Cena is right there to hold the belt whenever the chosen one falters, and he can do the same with Seth. While WWE seems to want to hold Roman’s big first win for ‘Mania, Cena getting the title while Vince figures shit out is just what they need in an emergency holding pattern. Now that he’s free of the US belt, John Cena can win back the belt, get cheered and booed incessantly, and keep things moving smoothly on the way to Royal Rumble.
The Case Against: First off, he’s on a much needed vacation at the moment, with plans that he won’t be back until December, though if Vince McMahon is desperate enough, I can see him coming back early as so many superstars have done before. However, maybe this isn’t some random vacation and it can’t be cancelled. Plus, if he does win, that not only takes him out a potential feud with Del Rio, but it also gets him that historic 16th title reign, which is a little too special to be thrown out on a random Survivor Series.
Odds: 3-1 (1-1 if he was currently active)
Alberto Del Rio
The Case For:: There’s no bigger “Sorry we fired you for slapping a racist” apology than giving Alberto Del Rio another WWE Championship run. All kidding aside, Del Rio winning another belt makes sense on many levels. Despite the fact that he’s already fought R-Truth twice, ADR is still hot enough off his Cena-beating return that he’s a believable WWE Champion. If he does so with the United States Championship, Del Rio also has a built-in feud with Seth Rollins upon The Architect’s return. Or if you want to make Cena’s return a big one, why not have him challenge ADR in December and win his record-tying 16th championship in a grand act of revenge.
The Case Against: Del Rio is another guy who WWE seems unlikely to promote to main event status when you look at his most recent work. As mentioned before, he’s taking on jobbers like R-Truth, and he’s currently being set up to feud with Jack Swagger. Does this sound like the career path to the main event of next month’s PPV?
Want to see some really out there, yet believable picks? Read on!