WWE didn’t need this today. Having just begun an eleven day tour of Europe, WWE is likely in a bit of a panic at the moment.
In case you’re one of those wrestling fans who live under a rock, now-former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins has had to vacate the title due to injury. Rollins suffered a torn ACL and MCL on Wednesday night in Dublin in a match against Kane (it probably wasn’t Kane’s fault, so lay off the big red fella).
Plans for WrestleMania were in place. The destination for pretty much everyone was set in stone. Now, they have to hit the reset button.
For WWE, hitting that button may not be a bad thing. Ratings are low, and there isn’t any reason to believe they were going to get better. With today’s unfortunate news, they have some buzz around them. This isn’t just some mid-card guy that got injured. This is the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. People want to know what is going to happen next.
So who’s going to be the next champion? We’ll find out soon, in a tournament at Survivor Series on November 22 in Atlanta. Here are who I consider realistic options to win the Survivor Series tournament, and why they would or would not win the title.
The Serious Contenders
Why he is the next champion: Reigns has grown a lot since being booed out of Philadelphia following his Royal Rumble victory. The last couple weeks on Raw have included a large amount of the crowd cheering for him. He’s become the total package, as long as they keep him away from telling fairytales in the ring.
Some would say he was going to beat Rollins at Survivor Series in what would have been their one-on-one encounter for the championship. It would make sense to continue with that ending and have Reigns stand tall at the end of the show.
Why he isn’t the next champion: You only get one first championship win, one build to your first title. WWE unexpectedly gave Daniel Bryan two because the fans demanded another one and the company didn’t have much of a choice.
But if WWE wants Reigns to stand tall, looking like “the man” moving into the future, wouldn’t it make sense for his first title win to come at WrestleMania in front of 100,000 people in Texas? Reigns is becoming the total package that WWE wants him to be, and he might be there right now.
Why he’s the next champion: Because it’s all about the game, and how you play it. Fortunately for Triple H, he is literally in control of how the game is played.
This would probably be the least popular decision for who should win the championship at Survivor Series, but it would possibly be a good thing moving forward. People would hate Triple H if he won the championship. They’d despise him. His understudy Rollins wasn’t getting the job done, so he took the title. It’s what’s best for business, in his mind.
They can build to a moment where the belt is taken off him by the next big star, likely at WrestleMania. While it would be an unpopular decision, from a storytelling standpoint it’s one that would make sense. He’s already on television every week, so why the heck not give Hunter the belt?
Why he isn’t the next champion: Triple H hasn’t wrestled since WrestleMania. In the last two years, he’s only had a handful of matches, so it wouldn’t make much sense for him to come right back in and win the title instead of guys that have had hundreds of matches in that period. This could be a chance for WWE to make a performer into a true superstar. They may not want to waste that chance by having Triple H stand atop them all.
Why he’s the next champion: He’s Brock Lesnar. He’s bigger and stronger than you, and can beat up 99.9 percent of the world’s male population right now. Next.
Why he isn’t the next champion: As part of the case with Triple H, this is a chance for WWE to make a new star. They could have a lot more eyes on them with the shocking news of Rollins’ injury, so they may not want to just put the belt on someone who had a run on TV (on and off television during the reign, to be fair) within the past year.
Also, Lesnar is likely the most expensive option to become the next champion. I imagine his next pay-per-view appearance was going to be at WrestleMania, so it’d cost WWE a lot of money to have him wrestle not once, but two or three times at Survivor Series, while making a title defense or two before the big show in early April.
Why he’s the next champion: Similar to Lesnar, the answer is pretty simple: He’s John Felix Anthony Cena. He’s the company’s most popular performer and was the guy the company went to last time the champion had to be stripped of the title due to injury.
Why he’s not the next champion: Cena just left WWE programming a week or two ago to film some new reality show or film a new movie or do something else. It probably wouldn’t be too easy to get him back in the picture at this point due to his prior commitments.
Why he’s the next champion: Well, he has the Money In the Bank briefcase which guarantees him a title shot whenever he wants it. I’d have to read the fineprint of the contract to see whether he can cash it in and just be given the title.
Why he’s not the next champion: He was part of a tag team that lost to the Lucha Dragons last Monday on Raw. I’d be surprised if he was granted a spot in this tournament to crown a new champion. Even if he does leave Survivor Series as the champion, he’s likely not the next champion, either. He’s the champion after the next champion. (I’m keeping this as kayfabe as I can.)
The Sorta-Maybe Contenders
Why he’s the next champion: It’s the 25th anniversary of Taker’s debut in WWE at Survivor Series. They’re already touting how it’ll be a celebration…maybe more of a remembrance since the dead man doesn’t seem like the type that really “celebrates” anything.
Taker looks great and is coming off a pair of hellacious matches with Lesnar. If the company is going to celebrate Taker’s debut and run in the company, why not do it with a championship victory?
Why he’s not the next champion: It looks like Taker is going to be part of a Survivor Series style match already including the Wyatt Family, which would likely hinder him from participating in this tournament. Also, like Lesnar, he doesn’t work much TV, and like others I’ve mentioned it wouldn’t be giving a potentially great “rub” to a young star that could use the title win to move onto stardom.
Why he’s the next champion: Outside of losing matches consistently, Wyatt has three huge guys with him at all times. That means he can win any match against anyone. Wyatt could use his three big goons from Swampsville and ease his way to a title win. A run with the championship could do Wyatt a lot of good, as well, in his goal to get all of us buzzards to follow him. Could make for some compelling television.
Why he’s not the next champion: He’s likely already busy against Taker at Survivor Series, and the lack of wins makes it hard to believe he’s actually the best wrestler in the company.
Why he’s the next champion: Because he’s awesome.
Why he’s not the next champion: The company doesn’t feel Cesaro can connect with fans enough on the microphone. Also, Stardust and The Ascension may not allow this to happen. Those three have actually made me want to see Cesaro beat them up!
Big E/Kofi Kingston
Why one of them is the next champion: Everyone seems to think New Day is the best thing going for WWE right now. Why not give one of them title? Shenanigans would surely ensue. Could they defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship using the Freebird Rule?
Why neither is the next champion: WWE may not think New Day is a top, main event group to lead the show. I know they’ve main evented Raw and SmackDown recently, but there’s a big difference between doing that and leading all the company’s programming moving forward.
Why he’s the next champion: All those “Ambrose heel turn” rumors come to fruition. He’s tired of playing second fiddle to his buddy, Reigns, and the lunatic fringe loses it. In the process, he wins the title!
Why he’s not the next champion: Ambrose just started what appears to be a feud with Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Championship, and they’re going with that. Otherwise, WWE just doesn’t think he would do well enough as champion to give him the belt. Also, a potential feud with Chris Jericho could be on the horizon, and that may not be a title feud at this point.
Why he’s the next champion: WWE could offer him a lot of money to carry the title until Royal Rumble or WrestleMania. His presence would also bring a lot of eyes onto WWE programming when he appears.
Why he’s not the next champion: The Rock is probably busy making boatloads of money filming a kickass movie somewhere in the world.
I left out others because they’re either already busy with another title or feud, or simply because I don’t see them walking out as champion at Survivor Series. Regardless of who it is, this is going to be a lot of fun. WWE has some serious buzz due to an unfortunate accident. Let’s see who is handed the ball and if they can run with it.