Wade Barrett’s injury last night came about quite unexpectedly, and at probably the worst possible time. On the night after he gave a powerful showing at Elimination Chamber, Barrett took a hard fall from the Big Show’s Ziggler toss to the outside of the ring—which also injured Ziggler.
Barrett’s reaction was genuine and viewers and fellow superstars could tell he was in obvious pain and that something didn’t go according to plan.
It was actually quite alarming.
It was an extremely sloppy match with many superstars still ailing from the chamber match. I personally feel this match could’ve happened next week. Having it the next night seemed a little too soon to name a number one contender.
Then again, Creative obviously needed to make the early push for the Jericho/CM Punk rivalry for Wrestlemania. I even saw Barrett having the opportunity to make a big splash at Wrestlemania.
With Barrett's injury sidelining him for many weeks, I can see many superstars taking up the helm of either being a top heel on the show, or simply making a move to prominence in the coming weeks on the road to Wrestlemania.
I feel obligated to include Santino on this list because of his recent performance in the chamber match. But with Bryan's squash of him on last night’s Raw, I’m not sure Creative knows what they want from Santino anymore.
But I feel that Santino has the chance to be on our radar, especially with the potential of a Money in the Bank match at Wrestlemania this year. But he probably won’t play much of a role in the promotion until this point.
He’s an easy addition to the ladder match because he will keep things interesting and entertaining, while providing quality in-ring work—like he always does.
It would even provide some incredible anticipation for his leagues of new fans, who can foresee him being used as decoy or glorified sleeper in this type of a number one contender match.
He’s powerful on the mic and solid in the ring, but I’m not sure—in fact, I’m confident—that Creative won’t make a push on such a fan favorite yet. We saw this happen to Zach Ryder, and I don’t think Santino or the Cobra could handle that treatment like Ryder has.
For some reason, Mahal has found himself in the good graces of the booking gods.
His newly sported beard and tenacity has lead him to some interesting victories in recent weeks and his character seems to be developing a little bit more through his in-ring work.
Mahal has also improved in recent months with selling moves. He’s cleaned up his clumsiness and has even refined his physique to create a more menacing stature.
I can legitimately see him finding some use in coming weeks.
Regardless of whether he drops his title at Wrestlemania—which he should—to whom, I’m unsure, but he can use this Barrett injury to easily elevate himself to the top heel on the show.
I could even see him and Christian fighting it out for the IC title and for heel supremacy. But, at this point, Christian wouldn’t seem motivated for anything less than the top prize in the game. This would make for an interesting heel/heel angle.
Or they could take Rhodes and throw him into the Money in the Bank match—which wouldn’t make sense if they want his IC title on the line. Then again, he could easily pull a Ziggler and do some double duty.
Still, given his recent thigh injury, he may need to take it easy for a few weeks.
Rhodes is obviously being primed to take charge of the main event scene at some point this year, and this injury could easily be the opportunity to do so.
The man needs an angle and this could be his opportunity.
Completely turn him heel. He’s already frustrated. He already has the motivation to become something more, and Barrett's injury can be his open door to create himself as a vengeful heel.
McIntyre could even be a counter heel to Laurinaitis’ heel crew, and serve on Teddy Long’s side—this could be his chance to do some sucking up to earn a better place in Long’s heart.
Then again, that angle could turn him face—however, that all depends on how you view Long as a GM.
Given that this is an election year, I see the GM’s duking it out at some point to create Raw/Smackdown political warfare. It will be odd, but with last week’s debate and the photo opp at the Elmination Chamber on Sunday, it seems inevitable.
McIntyre and Santino could be driving forces behind Team Long.
There isn’t much chance that Orton would actually get involved with that ridiculousness.
But since it appears he is on constant injury watch these days, I am wary of what he may actually be utilized for. Regardless, his prominence is necessary for the road to Wrestlemania.
I don’t think he’d be stuck in the Money in the Bank match, but I can see him feuding shortly with Rhodes over the IC title or over something non sequitur. His feud with Barrett could’ve easily come to a definitive end at Mania, but not any longer.
I don’t want something ridiculous like Orton being added to the Sheamus/Bryan match, because I feel this needs to be Sheamus’ night to shine.
Orton could rehash a feud with Mark Henry, or take on the likes of Alberto del Rio—if he is indeed signed to Smackdown now…all of a sudden.
Or, he could feud with another newly returned top-heel—Christian.
Speaking of which…
With his return inevitable at this point, thanks to his Chamber appearance, Christian needs to return to Smackdown in a powerful manner.
His focus will more than likely be the Laurinaitis/Long angle, but I’m sure we’ll see him used to feud with some Raw stars en route to some sort of conglomeration of powers colliding between both shows.
Beyond this, as I’ve said, I could see a fresh rivalry sparked between fellow heel Cody Rhodes—where Christian could easily get Rhodes over as the face, since Rhodes has an impeccable ability to literally turnabout face with his emotionless demeanor turned smile turned emotionless demeanor within a heartbeat.
Christian has the ability to come back to the ring and make it seem like he never left. Fans will react to his arrogance and whining in the same fashion as always—but with Bryan dominating the whining heel, Christian will need to be more commanding.
He may try to assert himself with Sheamus/Bryan, given his history. But as I said, I want Sheamus to shine. Then again, if Orton was also thrown into this mix it’d make a lot of sense for all the participants' rivalries.
But it would seem like a waste to do that to a match where Sheamus earned his spot through the Rumble.
This is the obvious choice for who may benefit most from Barrett’s injury.
It may have seemed like he was going to have a solid push soon, which is disappointing for him as a person. But I feel this can easily be used in his favor.
As I’ve written previously, Barrett has had many issues with his character, personae and storylines lately, so I see this time off being extremely useful for him. It could provide for some of his inconsistencies to be ironed out—especially the atrocious music attached to him.
This time could be great for him to find motivation, and come back stronger than he was before. Creative will be able to use him as a more powerful heel. It could actually even set up the opportunity to turn him face—if they want to completely reshape him.
His injury could also be used in a story. He could train an upstart superstar to do his biddings or something maniacal.
This will also give Creative some opportunities to develop new stories with the superstars I’ve already listed.
I didn’t include Big Show or Sheamus on this list because I see their pushes already being relegated toward Wrestlemania feuds.
What are your thoughts? Who is going to take up the Smackdown reigns next?!
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