mark my words

Mark My Words: How to Replace A Champ

As a fan, hearing about Seth Rollins’ injured knee pretty much floored me. Not only because it looked incredibly dramatic, or because it happened on the EU tour – I’m in the UK, so close enough – but because my immediate thought was ‘the champ will be gone for how long?’ Seeing that title go up as vacant was pretty much heart-breaking, but more than that, it means that the WWE are suddenly out of luck with a lot of their plans.  Cena’s on holiday, Orton’s out, Lesnar’s gone, Rusev’s out, Undertaker’s retiring, Daniel Bryan’s still not back… they’re running out of top card players, and they’re doing it at speed. The plans for Wrestlemania right now must just be:

  1. Roman Reigns
  2. Someone else
  3. ????
  4. Profit

So, because I’m ever so helpful, and I like being useful to our friends at WWE creative, I’ve decided to give you the lowdown on what I think should happen from this point on.

Survivor Series and Beyond

We know that there will be a match or a series of matches announced for this, involving four wrestlers, one of whom will become the new champ.  My predictions for the wrestlers in question; Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro. Or at least, that’s how I’d book it – more likely, one of those last two names will be replaced with Ryback, and the other possibly with Kevin Owens. Of course, the winner will be Roman Reigns, with Sheamus cashing in right at the end and taking the title off him. They can’t just hand the title to Roman, not now, not when he’s finally just about getting over with the crowd; he needs to work for it, sweat for it, bleed for it, needs to be seen to have earned it.

The title would stay on Sheamus for a while, call it six out of the nine months of Seth’s recovery, with Roman constantly trying for it, and always being beaten back due to interference from Barrett – remember, a heel can interfere, whereas a face always waits for the heel to make the first move – and possibly Rusev, if he’s back in soonish. After six months, it should fall to Roman, who can’t believe his luck, and then he gets to be the champ while we wait for Seth to come back.

Fast-forward three months, and we’ve got Seth coming back.

“Hey, Reigns, I think you’ve got something there that belongs to me.”
“This? Nah, baby, this is all mine. I won it, fair and square.”
“But I was undefeated. I’m the champ. Hand it over.”
“You want it, Seth? You come and get it.”

And then they can battle it out, whether Roman was just keeping Seth’s title warm for him, or if he truly earned it, and the Roman/Seth feud can play a bit of title snatching.

The Other Titles

This is pretty self-indulgent, really – I’d like to see Xavier Woods take the IC title. Hey, maybe KO is busy chasing the Heavyweight title, and so loses to Xavier. Stranger things have happened. That frees up the tag titles to fall to the Dudleys first, to get their historic victories, then to a new team of Tyler Breeze and Dolph Ziggler. I’d like to see Del Rio basically seat-warm for Cena’s return, showcasing more of the under-utilised talent like he did with Neville on Smackdown, before losing to Swagger two weeks before Cena’s return, whereupon Big Match John snatches back his title easily, and we continue with the status quo there until Wrestlemania, because if someone’s going to take the US title off Cena for real, it should be a big occasion.

Reigns and Ambrose

There’s two ways they can go with Dean and Roman – they can split them up, or keep them working together. If Dean and Roman split, it should be Dean turning heel, not Roman, because he’s had a lot of practice as it as Jon Moxley, he’s got more of a bad boy persona, and he’ll gel better with the current heel side of the roster.

So. Roman goes over Dean for the Heavyweight title, and Dean’s sick of being second best – the seeds sown by Seth on Raw the other night – so he attacks Reigns, turns heel, and joins forces with Kevin Owens to wrench that title from Roman. That way, Seth comes back and finds there’s not just a one on one to get to his title, but that he’ll have to go through Ambrose and Owens as well, and it lets him show off that he’s back to full health, and that he’s strong enough to get past at least those two in order to make it to Reigns. Alternatively, the three become a union of convenience, get the title off Roman, then fight it out between the three of them as to who gets to keep it.

My advice would be not to split them, because Ambrose gets a bigger pop than Reigns right now, and he’s still going to get that, rather than the heat he needs as a heel, because the audience loves him. He’s charismatic, a good actor, great to watch in the ring, and electric on the mic. Part of the reason people are taking to Reigns finally is because we’re seeing him call on Ambrose for help, we’re seeing him be a friend, a human being, not just a superman walking in and ripping through bigger and stronger guys. Take Dean away, and Roman’s stilted on the mic (so wouldn’t make a credible heel, they need to be stronger vocally than the faces), and needs someone to back him up.

All in all, whatever ends up happening, I suspect they will put the title back on Seth within six months of his return, because he deserved a longer title run than he got, and to end it with an injury isn’t how anyone wanted it to go. Hopefully the surgery will all go well, and he’ll be back before we know it. Get well soon, Seth.

So how do you think they’re going to book the next six to nine months?