As the mercury rises and summer is in full swing, things are starting to heat up in the world of WWE. A few months removed from WrestleMania and instead of taking their foot off the gas, WWE and its Superstars have been full steam ahead. With a couple of solid Premium Live Events (PLE) in the books and younger talent making their move, the company’s second biggest PLE, SummerSlam, is now just around the corner. Rushonrock’s wrestling editor, Andy Spoors, looks back over all the drama stirred up over the last few weeks, with one eye on the upcoming Nashville show…
All Good In Theory
A criticism often thrown at WWE is their reluctance to build new Superstars. Stars, plural. For close to a decade now, Roman Reigns has moved from force-fed face of the company to being able to make a live audience explode by saying two words on the mic.
Creating a bonafide Superstar is not a quick process. With the majority of heroes from yesteryear now retired or otherwise engaged, there has never been a more important time for WWE to push new and fresh talent into the Universe.
One such example is Theory. In storyline, the former Evolve Champion has found himself under the tutelage of Mr McMahon, leading to some pretty impressive opportunities for a 24-year-old. At Money In The Bank, Theory lost his US Championship to Bobby Lashley but found himself on top of the mountain, or ladder, as not only a last minute entrant but winner of the MITB match.
Now guaranteed a shot at the Championship, any time, anywhere within a year, Theory has the chance to etch his name into the history books as one of the youngest champions in the modern era. Starting life as a dimwitted, airhead in NXT to a smarmy, selfie-taking threat on Raw has felt like one of the more natural evolutions on the main roster.
Whether Theory can live up to the bar set by young champions such as Randy Orton or Brock Lesnar remains to be seen. Neither of those had to deal with a volatile social media audience, that’s always out to push its own favourites and tear down any Superstar perceived to have been handpicked by the company.
As long as the MITB contract remains in his hands, Theory could well be the one to make the Roman empire fall…
Liv-in It Up
In the women’s division, the future also seems to be the present. At Money In The Bank, Liv Morgan claimed victory not once but twice on the same night. First by ascending the ladder and grabbing the briefcase and again later in the night by cashing her Championship shot against a beat-down Smackdown Women’s Champion, Ronda Rousey.
Morgan has long been a fan favourite on social media, so for her crowning moment to come at the age of 28 in the circumstances they did, shows a lot of faith in her future by WWE. With arguably the most stacked roster of talent the company has ever consistently had in their women’s division, Morgan will have to keep progressing to stay on top.
With Charlotte and Bayley sidelined right now along with the backstage situation with Sasha Banks and Naomi, there are still a lot of experienced Superstars to bring back into the fold. In wrestling terms, Morgan is a product of the WWE’s Performance Center and will have to draw on everything she has learned to sharpen up promo skills and keep improving in the ring.
Morgan doesn’t have to look too far for a great example, as the similarities with Raw Women’s Champion, Bianca Belair, are startling. Both came from non-wrestling backgrounds before moving into the PC, both ladies have worked hard to get to where they want to be but continue to do so to stay there.
Once again it will be interesting to see the reaction on social media as very few Superstars have ever enjoyed such a vocally ferocious and loyal following as Morgan possesses. And we all know that level of support can quickly move from ally to albatross around your neck in a matter of days.
Very few Superstars can endure loss after loss in feuds before finding themselves either pushed down the card, let go, or simply losing all credibility as a contender. However, Seth Rollins is most definitely an exception to that line of thinking.
It’s been close to two and a half years since Rollins has held any form of championship in WWE. You’d have to go back to October 2019 to find the last time he has held a singles title. Yet neither of those stats paint the full picture.
Whether The Architect, The Messiah or The Visionary, Seth Rollins is always relevant and never too far from the main event. Losing feuds and championship matches but instantly moving on to another normally wouldn’t work. However, his incredible workrate, in-ring ability and charisma keeps Rollins’ stock high.
His most recent feud with the returning Cody Rhodes resulted in three PLE losses in a row as Rollins became more and more unhinged. With Rhodes on the shelf with a torn pectoral muscle for the foreseeable future, Rollins still emerged with credit and looking for the next opportunity to back up his claims to be the best in the industry.
However, now is the time to re-introduce The Visionary into the title picture, even just for the incredible portfolio of work he has created over the last few years. Even with another Reigns vs Lesnar match at SummerSlam and McIntyre waiting in the wings at Clash In The Castle, Rollins’ name deserves to be included too.
Injuries Lead To Opportunities
It isn’t just WWE that have injury problems right now. Main rivals AEW also find themselves besieged with ailments too. Such is the nature of the business. Ballet this is not. Putting your body on the line, night after night, will inevitably take its toll on every Superstar.
Big E, Cody Rhodes, Randy Orton, Bayley, Ilja Dragunov, Io Shirai and Rhea Ripley are just some of the names currently out for unspecified amounts of time. It’s enough to make even the most established promotion frantically scramble to find cover for such an extensive list of talent.
Even with some of the deepest cuts and releases in memory, WWE still have strength in depth when it comes to their roster. The previously mentioned Theory has been one of the beneficiaries of the extended injury list, Riddle has also received a prolonged spotlight and one that he has undeniably shone in.
Another example of taking their opportunity is the recent run of Monday Night Raws that have been headlined by the women’s roster. Even without the title involved, Becky Lynch has closed out the last three episodes of WWE’s flagship show.
Remaining fluid in their plans is essential for WWE heading into the next two PLE that take place in stadiums on both sides of the Atlantic. Eventually those on the treatment table will return and stack the roster further but for now those that have been treading water and waiting for their moment to grab the brass ring need to seize their opportunity.
Drew McIntyre has remained vocal about headlining Clash At The Castle in Cardiff, but after months outside of a meaningful feud or tilt at any championship, the big Scotsman needs to heat up ahead of September.
Pat On The Back
And finally, a quick point on some significant news (literally) outside the ring. The superb Pat McAfee has recently signed a new deal with WWE, tying himself to the company for the next few years.
The effect an ex-NFL punter has had on a wrestling company has been outstanding to witness. A breath of fresh air on the commentary table, McAfee instils a sense of passion and humour to weekly television and has even reinvigorated the tenured Michael Cole.
Loved by the WWE Universe, McAfee had a breakout performance at WrestleMania and will find himself in another match at SummerSlam in Nashville against Happy Corbin. Well done to Pat and WWE for giving fans what they want and allowing more personality on their programming for years to come.