In what came as a big surprise to most wrestling fans, "The Viper" Randy Orton was suspended for 60 days by the WWE for his second violation of the Talent Wellness Program, according to WWE.com. Orton is unquestionably one of the four top dogs in the company, so this news certainly will send the creative team scrambling.
Orton wasn't in the main event scene in recent months, but he was a staple in the upper mid-card and had been in position to feud with Chris Jericho. However, Y2J was also suspended for kicking a Brazilian flag during a house show in Sao Paulo. There is now a major hole on the WWE roster that must be filled for the next two months.
Here are three superstars who the WWE must push during Orton's extended absence in order to to lend some support to the main-event feuds.
Which superstar should be pushed most in Randy Orton's absence?
When Kane returned several months ago, he did so as a monster heel while utilizing his classic masked look. Not surprisingly, though, Kane has already morphed into a tweener after a side feud with Daniel Bryan in recent weeks.
With Orton out, the WWE needs to take a reliable mid-card veteran and elevate his status a bit. There is no better choice than Kane, as he is more than capable of being in a high-profile storyline, and he can be either a heel or a face.
Kane just finished feuding with Orton a few weeks back, so it makes a lot of sense for him to take his spot. Meanwhile, his involvement in the Bryan vs. CM Punk feud doesn't really seem to be going anywhere.
Kane needs to be the ruthless pseudo-face who is willing to take out anyone at the drop of a dime. One of the things that makes Orton popular is that he has heel tendencies as a face, and that is something that Kane can pull off well.
It's fair to say that Sin Cara's return from injury couldn't have come at a better time with Orton getting suspended. The high-flyer is set to return on SmackDown this week after rupturing his patella tendon back at Survivor Series.
He is obviously a much different competitor than Orton, but in terms of fan support, he can replace a lot of what is lost with Orton out of the picture. Sin Cara will have to improve his in-ring efficiency upon his return, but the fans absolutely love his character.
Sin Cara isn't yet a main-event-caliber competitor, but he can more than hold his own in the upper mid-card as a top face.
Aside from main-eventers like John Cena, Punk and Sheamus, the face roster is incredibly thin right now with Orton suspended. The WWE simply needs to push guys who the fans are going to get behind, and Sin Cara is one of the few options the company has at this point.
As the Intercontinental champion, Christian is pretty much relegated to the mid-card right now, but there is no reason why the title can't be used in a high-profile feud.
It looks like Christian and Cody Rhodes are going to have a rivalry for a while, and both of them are talented enough for the feud to be featured right below the main-event scene. Christian suddenly turned face upon his return at Over the Limit, and he is capable of filling Orton's shoes.
Christian may not have the same superstar status as Orton, but he is extremely popular and has been with the company for a very long time. His in-ring work is very solid and he is gold on the mic as well, so it wouldn't be a stretch to call him a superior all-around performer to Orton.
Many feared that Christian would be lost in the shuffle when he won the Intercontinental championship, but this is a great opportunity to ensure that he remains relevant.
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