Breaking News: WWE Champion Seth Rollins suffers an ACL tear that will sideline him for 6-9 months. If you’re bad at math let me Sp-Sp-Spell it out for you! Seth, unless he has John Cena healing powers, won’t be 100% until Summerslam. While I won’t rule out that at his age and conditioning he could make a roaring recovery for WrestleMania, given his style of wrestling that seems doubtful and a bit dangerous. Most likely they won't rush Seth back as he's not a Cena commodity.
That means the WWE title landscape is about to shake up for better or worse for the next several months. WWE has announced a tournament where the winner will be crowned champion at Survivor Series, making this perhaps the most anticipated Survivor Series since 1998, which saw The Rock defeat Mankind by turning heel, thus capturing the vacant title and beginning his legendary run as The Corporate Rock. This can be looked at as a moment where The Rock finally became The Rock that we grew to love, and maybe history can repeat itself and give someone who isn’t quite at the Superstar level a championship boost and give the WWE what it’s sorely been missing.
So who will win the WWE World Championship? Will it be an old trusted standard who will serve as just a placeholder until someone better comes along, or will it be a young upstart, that’s what every wrestling dirtsheet will be pondering for the next three weeks. No one knows what Vinny Mac is thinking, but let’s try to break it down, not just from the popularity standpoint but also from what’s best for business considering that this person will most likely need to headline the biggest show of all time WrestleMania: Texas!
WHO WILL BE CHAMPION
Bray Wyatt: His feud with The Undertaker has been built in only two weeks, with more importance than his entire WrestleMania program with the Deadman had last year. Despite a clean loss to Roman Reigns, Bray has regained his mojo, and putting the belt on The Eater of Worlds gives the WWE a much needed heel who can be built (given the Undertaker/Kane stolen power angle) as unbeatable until Taker (the true power) or Brock (the man that conquered that power) returns. However, it may be too early for this experiment as Bray’s inconsistent big match record makes him almost at the Miz in terms of wins. To suddenly put your biggest prize on a man that’s lost more than he’s won lately doesn’t really elevate the title.
Verdict: 50% Likely
Kevin Owens: The IC Champion is the top “Cool Heel” to the point where he even silences the Cesaro section. After being buried with loses to Finn Balor and John Cena, Owens has rebounded by being virtually unstoppable in IC title matches… but his lost to Roman Reigns only a week ago shows that the team backstage doesn’t have him as high on their list as Roman in terms of running with the ball. The money could be in a Brock Lesnar Vs. Kevin Owens match, but only if Owens is billed as an old school Ric Flair like heel that not only can go in the ring, but will always cheat to win. However, Owens notoriously doesn’t have the look that Vince is said to be in love with, so that may hold him back.
Verdict: 40% Likely
Dean Ambrose: Still hot with the fans, Mr. Unstable could use a gimmick jump-start. What a better way to do that than turning heel ala The Rock and beating Roman Reigns for the title? The problem becomes, we’ve seen that with Seth Rollins. If Ambrose is to become his own character and not some weird Stone Cold/Marc Mero Hybrid he needs a fresh storyline that sees him win the belt in a way we're not used to seeing. The good thing is that WWE has never shied away from repeating itself, and Ambrose may be the transitional champion they’re looking for to simply keep the belt warm.
Daniel Bryan: This is the fantasy-booking darling, but let’s be realistic, even if Mr. Brie Mood is ready to get back in the ring full time; the company would be taking a huge risk by putting their top belt on someone who is one concussion away from being retired.
Verdict 10% Likely
Finn Balor: I do not doubt that at least one NXT star will be in the tournament, and if Sami Zayn were healthy, he would be a great underdog choice. The current NXT champion is still finding his footing. Unlike Bo Dallas, Kevin Owens, or Neville, Finn has yet to truly define himself in NXT outside of solid matches and an unbelievable entrance. If Finn is going to become a main roster star, he needs to get over more on NXT as a character. His current feud with Samoa Joe could do that, so I doubt that Triple H would risk NXT’s future so WWE can tease a first time WWE & NXT simultaneous champion that won’t happen.
Verdict 5% Likely
The New Day: Freebird rule baby! The New Day is by far the hottest thing outside of Cena chants and Brock Lesnar suplex pop’s, and they did it on their own, taking a horribly cheesy gimmick and turning it into comedy gold. The problem with New Day is that since the beat down of Cena and Ziggler, they haven’t shown that mean streak side they teased. To win the WWE World Title and defend it three-ways would be the most fresh and unique thing WWE’s done since the Attitude Era. However, ask yourself when’s the last time WWE has actually stepped out on that much of a limb creatively with the world title.
Verdict 60% Likely
The Mid Card Gods: Ziggler, Ryback, Rusev, Cesaro – These guys could be World Champions… in TNA, and that’s not a knock. They deliver in the ring and get the reaction they’re meant to, but none of them stands out more than the next. Ziggler doesn’t have the heat to sustain a serious title run where it’s believable that no one will be able to beat him. Ryback has been damaged in the past two months by looking like a moron compared to Kevin Owens who kept outsmarting him. Rusev needs time to get back to where he was last year before the Cena defeats and the Lana soap opera marginalized his character. Finally, Cesaro could be that Mankind people’s favorite who could make it to the finals of the tournament, but in the end Cesaro Vs anyone, will not draw at WrestleMania as a main event.
Verdict 5% Likely
Sheamus & Alberto Del Rio: Sheamus has the Money in the Bank contract. Which means he could walk out of Survivor Series as champion, but in terms of actually winning the tournament-- Doubtful. Alberto needs to pay his dues all over again, and given the way he left WWE last time, bitter and with accusations of racism, it’s a surprise he’s even on the roster. Del Rio is a gatekeeper at this point, not a world champion threat.
Verdict 1% Likely
John Cena: Where’s SuperCena? Off filming a TV show in Los Angeles. BUT! He’s still contracted to the WWE, and they always take precedent, so if they can work out a Survivor Series PPV appearance on his day off, and find a way to keep him off TV for another month, I’m sure he would do it. Nevertheless, that’s not fair to Cena *Bobby Henan Voice*. As someone who has done more favors for Vince than anyone this century, Cena was given this opportunity to grow his own brand, so he can have something once his wrestling career winds down. I doubt that WWE will ask him to once again save the day… but it’s happened before and desperate times usually translate to = Another Cena Title Run!
Verdict 80% Likely
Roman Reigns: It didn’t work last year, and maybe it was because Lesnar, Daniel Bryan, and the memory of CM Punk were so fresh in the minds of the fans that they just didn't give him a fair shot. This time around the Boos aren’t that loud, and maybe WWE can pull off Roman Reigns as a baby face champion. Bray Wyatt did a great job in elevating Reigns in terms of savagery in the ring. No longer is he just a three-move powerhouse with a lame catchphrase, he’s shown that dark 80’s Samoan style that got his Uncles over. At this point Reigns may even be able to pull off a Heel turn that doesn’t seem forced. We all know he must have a lot of pint up frustration, which he hasn’t been able to let out in a promo towards the fans. Team him with the Usos and they can form a cool Heel stable that’s not as silly as New Day tends to be. Either way, heel or baby, Reigns gives WWE their best option for WrestleMania. Reigns Vs. Brock rematch. Reigns Vs. Daniel Bryan in a David Vs. Goliath, Corporate Champ Vs. People’s Champ match. Reigns Vs. Cena in a passing of the torch match. It even opens up Reigns Vs. The Rock.
Verdict 90% Likely
These are just our odds in terms of what makes sense, there can always be a surprise. A wrestler like Chris Jericho getting another shot isn’t that far fetched. They could pay Brock big money to come back a few months early. Sting, if healthy, finally winning the big one could work. If could be a chance to turn Bubba Ray into Bully Ray. Maybe Jeff Hardy finally returns from the depths of TNA Hell. NXT has a handful of guys who could come in and make an immediate impact. Randy Orton’s injury may not be as serious as promoted, and he could be right back in the hunt. The point is, WWE has many choices, but they don't have a "Male Sasha Banks" who could was being groomed to be the top dog that the fans truly love.
Roman Reigns stands alone as the one guy who was their “In Case of Emergency” backup plan for when Cena, Orton, Bryan, or Seth went down. You may not want him as champion, but he definitely fits the description. Believe That.