Few things can change the landscape of the WWE Universe more than losing its World Heavyweight Champion. If you want our thoughts on that, you can read our story on why losing Seth Rollins is a huge blow for WWE.
But, like most of the wrestling world is forced to do at this point, we need to move forward with what’s available or — based on our first roundtable question — what isn’t.
Will time off make fans miss John Cena?
Riley Kontek: I think an extended time off for John Cena is just what the doctor called for. Sure, this has been one of his best years in a while, just based on the fact that he’s having great matches every week. However, people are sick of him being in the limelight and need a break from him. I love Dr. Pepper, but taking a break from it makes it taste even better. A break, in unison with a change in direction of character, will bring fans back to Cena and make him more interesting.
William McCormick: The thing about John Cena is he’s become the constant for the WWE fans. Cena’s fans will always miss him, but fans that want him gone are pleased when he’s not around. Because in their mind, the Great Wall of Cena can’t block new talent from getting more exposure.
Andrew Watkins: In order for the fans as a whole to actually miss John Cena, he’d have to be gone for much longer than a few months. They’ll go right back to thinking he sucks the minute he’s back.
Still, his absence won’t be for more than a few months and, with Seth Rollins’ injury, it could wind up being even shorter. Cena’s obviously a valued part of the roster, it’s most valuable in many respects. That said, a few weeks or months of Cena-free programming will feel like a breath of fresh air after years of being Cena-saturated. Combine that with the injury to Rollins and the WWE actually has a tremendous opportunity to build new stars.
What is Alberto Del Rio’s ceiling this time around?
RK: So far, things aren’t looking good for Alberto del Rio since returning. He was the hottest free agent in the market when the WWE released him. Upon bringing him back, he won the title and was a great surprise, but everything else has been flat. His alliance with Zeb Colter makes no sense, he’s wrestling jobbers in meaningless matches and his back in a rivalry with Jack Swagger. They should have blurred the lines of reality and feuded with WWE “management” over his firing. That would have been interesting.
WM: Alberto Del Rio is a band-aid over a huge hole on WWE’s roster. Rather than build a new star, WWE decided to bring in an old one. It’s not a bad thing, but Del Rio is a temporary fix to a long-term issue.
Del Rio’s ceiling is dependent upon how the fans accept the “MexAmerican” Championship angle. Del Rio is back to be an experienced veteran that can put some guys over and give WWE a champion when they need it. It’s unlikely Del Rio is a World Champion in WWE again.
AW: Were you to ask me this a few days ago, I’d say he’ll linger around the mid-card and may occasionally challenge for the WWE Championship — at a less important pay-per-view of course. But, for the time being, Del Rio’s actually one of the company’s more recognizable stars. Minus Rollins, the WWE’s without a top heel. Sheamus is, frankly, uninteresting. Del Rio, alongside Zeb Colter, would make a great foil for guys like Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose.
What will it take for Kevin Owens to elevate the Intercontinental Championship?
RK: For Kevin Owens to elevate the Intercontinental Championship, he needs a meaningful feud and to look like a monster. Yes, he is the slimy heel, but too often the WWE makes the heel a slimy, sneaky bad guys. Sometimes they just need to be a bad-ass prize fighter that beats up wrestlers the audience connects with (Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, etc.). Put him in a feud with mic time, intensity and classic matches, and not only will the title be elevated, but Owens and his adversary will be elevated.
WM: There is an old phrase in wrestling: You’re only as good as your dance partner. Kevin Owens is an amazing heel. The problem with a great heel is that they require a face to torment. Otherwise, their schtick isn’t as effective. That kind of heel also needs to get wins to stay relevant.
To elevate the IC title, Owens needs clean wins over established talent. He needs to beat veterans and faces that the fans respect. Those wins make him dominant and as a champion, the IC title will be elevated by association. It’s a classic scenario of the guy making the title instead of the other way around.
AW: Top-flight opponents and convincing victories over those opponents. Seems simple, right? Because it is. It’s a time-tested way of establishing credibility for any superstar. Beating a Ryback or a Cesaro is great and all, but taking out a former champion, like say a returning Randy Orton, and hoisting the Intercontinental Championship high in the aftermath would do wonders both Owens and his prize.