By Chuck Carroll
“In all my years of experience as a wrestler and as a broadcaster, not just in WWE but in TNA and ECW, there very rarely are contingency plans.”
–Taz, Host of The Taz Show: Bodyslams & Beyond
WWE is in a curiously familiar place. Déjà vu.
Fifteen months ago the world crumbled around Seth Rollins. In a split second he went from being king of the wrestling world to just another athlete on an operating table. The blown-out knee couldn’t have come at a worse time, as Rollins was the chosen one. In November 2015, Rollins was the WWE Champion and ushering in a new era. His win over Sting at Night Of Champions solidified WWE’s commitment to creating its next big superstar. Two months later those plans came to an abrupt halt.
Nearly eight months later everything began getting back on track. The seeds were quickly sown for a WrestleMania showdown with Triple H. WWE proved that its commitment to Rollins never wavered, and he was thrust right back into the spotlight. Everything was building magnificently, ready for a huge payoff in Orlando. And then…
On one fateful Monday night in late January, the grandiose plans for Orlando were thrust into serious jeopardy. The medial collateral ligament in his right knee was torn and the 30-year-old found himself back in Birmingham, Alabama under the watchful eye of Dr. James Andrews.
According to sports orthopedists, the prognosis is anywhere from six to eight weeks on the shelf. And that bumps him all the way up to WrestleMania. So, uh, what is WWE going to do? Does creative have something in their back pocket?
“The business is entertainment. You’re going to go along the lines of no one is getting hurt. The number one goal is for nobody to get hurt. Safety is always first in every company I’ve worked for,” said former ECW and WWE star Taz, who now hosts The Taz Show weekday mornings on the Play.it Network and Radio.com.
LISTEN HERE to The Taz Show: Bodyslams & Beyond weekdays 7-9 a.m.
He speculates that Dr. Andrews may be using a myriad of treatments to avoid surgically repairing the knee, including platelet-rich plasma treatment. It may take days before doctors can determine whether or not the PRP was successful.
If unsuccessful, the eight-week recovery period would still hold true. And while he may not be 100 percent for WrestleMania, there is a chance he could still work a match. However, it is unlikely it would rise to the level of what could have been without the hobbled knee.
“To a certain degree as a pro wrestler you can work around it,” Taz said. “Your opponent can help work around an injury, but only to some degree. If you go to WrestleMania, you truly have to be at your highest level. That’s not some hokey cliché thing. That’s the gospel truth. You need to go full throttle.”
If WWE needs to “break the glass in case of emergency,” many believe Roman Reigns will be the man to face Triple H. That sits well with about 50 percent of the WWE Universe. The other half is going to want to have a quiet riot.
Taz sees Reigns as a “plug and play” guy for WWE who is inserted into any scenario as needed. He doesn’t necessarily agree with that, but it’s a fact. If it were up to him, the Roman Empire would have turned heel months ago.
Here’s some good news for those in the WWE Universe who are Roman Reigns haters…
“I don’t think Roman Reigns is a guy that will wrestle at WrestleMania against Samoa Joe. I don’t think he’ll wrestle Triple H at WrestleMania,” said Taz. “I could be wrong, but I really don’t think he’ll wrestle either of those guys.”
Indeed, the Road to WrestleMania has an unexpected twist in it this year. Stay tuned.
Taz is a multi-time pro wrestling World Heavyweight Champion, celebrated color commentator and award-winning podcaster. He lets loose weekday mornings on The Taz Show: Bodyslams & Beyond, his no-holds-barred show that features hot topics in the world of pro wrestling, sports and entertainment along with weekly guest segments and more.
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.