AEW's Next World Champ, MJF Goes Scorched Earth, WWE Hell in a Cell, More Quick Takes

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured Columnist IVJune 5, 2022

AEW's Next World Champ, MJF Goes Scorched Earth, WWE Hell in a Cell, More Quick Takes

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    CM Punk dropped a massive pipebomb on the All Elite Wrestling audience on Friday night, but not in the way anyone was expecting.

    Because of an injury suffered during Wednesday's Dynamite, the Chicago native will miss an indefinite period of time. He also announced that he won't have to completely relinquish the AEW World Championship and that an upcoming tournament will determine an interim champion.

    That should make for must-see television in the coming weeks, along with whatever the future holds for MJF. There had been rumors running all weekend heading into Double or Nothing regarding his status for the show and whether his apparent unhappiness with the company was one giant work.

    It certainly didn't start out that way, but AEW was wise to incorporate the drama into a storyline on Dynamite, blurring the lines between fact and fiction in the process.

    Meanwhile, Hell in a Cell—WWE's latest premium event—airs this Sunday night. It could ultimately exceed expectations, but the lack of build on the SmackDown side of things hasn't helped in the slightest.

    This installment of Quick Takes will delve deeper into the issues with SmackDown at the moment, as well as the return of Madcap Moss, why Cody Rhodes must win at Hell in a Cell, and more.

Who Will AEW Crown as the Interim World Champion?

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    There's obviously never a good time to get hurt, but the timing of CM Punk's injury seriously could not have been worse.

    Just days removed from winning the AEW World Championship in the main event of Double or Nothing, Punk announced surgery will keep him from defending the title for now. An interim champ will be determined by way of an "eliminator series" in the coming weeks, culminating at Forbidden Door at the end of the month.

    It basically comes down to Jon Moxley (the number one ranked wrestler in AEW), Hiroshi Tanahashi (who has to beat Hirooki Goto first at NJPW's Dominion event next weekend) and the winner of a Battle Royal, who will face Moxley later on in the night.

    Moxley vs. Tanahashi seems a likely main event for Forbidden Door given their history as rivals, but AEW could easily switch up those plans to keep fans guessing. A heel "Hangman" Adam Page would an interesting choice for the spot, as well as Bryan Danielson.

    Either way, AEW has successfully turned a negative situation into something fans can be excited about throughout the month of June while also anticipating the eventual return of CM Punk.

Cody Rhodes Needs Third Consecutive Win over Seth Rollins to Cement Elite Star Status

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    In the absence of Roman Reigns and Randy Orton, the Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins rivalry has been far and away the best thing going on WWE TV for weeks now.

    Both men have played their roles remarkably well, the matches have been stellar and, above all else, Rhodes has been positioned as a true top star. He's been booked strong since coming back at WrestleMania 38 and has yet to be pinned one-on-one, but in order to actually reach that next level, he'll first need to beat Rollins for a third time at Hell in a Cell.

    Although he lost their first two encounters, Rollins remains in a stratosphere all of his own. Rhodes, on the other hand, needs as big of a boost as possible to condition the average viewer to think that he's indeed an elite athlete.

    That would also perfectly set up him to be the next challenger to Roman Reigns' undisputed title.

    Rollins loses nothing from coming up short against Rhodes for a third time, and if anything, it could be the catalyst for a face turn. Meanwhile, The American Nightmare can continue building momentum en route to the top of the company.

Lack of SmackDown Presence at Hell in a Cell Is an Indictment on the Blue Brand

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    It isn't a stretch to say that SmackDown has been a chore to sit through for the better part of the past year, not to mention that WWE has done nearly nothing to keep things engaging with Roman Reigns seemingly not around for the time being.

    Although SmackDown draws more viewers on Fox than Raw does on USA Network each week, no case can be made for the blue brand being the superior show, specifically with how little it's been involved in the buildup to Hell in a Cell on Sunday.

    Of the seven matches advertised for the card, six of them are courtesy of Raw, and only one features Superstars from SmackDown. Ricochet vs. Gunther for the Intercontinental Championship could have easily been added, but it's instead being saved for next week's episode of SmackDown.

    At this point, WWE isn't even attempting to pretend that both brands are treated equally. Raw has most of the main event players and some solid storylines, while SmackDown has nothing but rematches almost every week.

    It feels as if the era of brand-exclusive events has returned, despite the brand split seemingly being on the verge of ending. SmackDown could use all the help it can get at the moment.

Name Change for Madcap Moss Is Last Step in His Babyface Transformation

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    After only being gone for a few weeks, Madcap Moss made his not-so-triumphant return to SmackDown this Friday. His transformation into a babyface began immediately following WrestleMania 38 but wouldn't be complete until he underwent a complete gimmick overhaul.

    His brief hiatus from the blue brand did wonders as he's since come back with new music, new gear and a new attitude, all of which were way overdue. The only thing missing is the name change.

    It's almost impossible to prominently feature someone named Madcap Moss and expect fans to take him seriously.

    Again, the edge he has now makes him a little less generic, but the name is what is holding him back. Another win over Corbin at Hell in a Cell will lend Moss quite a bit of credibility, but he needs to move past the Madcap phase of his career if he has any desire of making it beyond the midcard.

    At least WWE has put some effort into trying to make a star out of Moss. Doing that with the rest of the roster would also be ideal.

AEW Was Wise to Capitalize on MJF Drama on Dynamite

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    CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 26: MJF on the ramp during AEW Dynamite - Beach Break on January 26, 2022, at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    MJF reportedly being frustrated over his lot in AEW was the talk of the town in the wrestling world heading into Double or Nothing, as well as the various rumors suggesting he may not show up at the event to face Wardlow.

    It seemed as if it was too big of a situation to not allude to in some form or fashion on television that night, but the commentators stayed silent on the matter and everything went according to plan. Of course, that changed on Wednesday's Dynamite when MJF was given an open mic to say what he wanted and captured the entire audience's attention in the process.

    His worked-shoot style promo was a thing of beauty, merely by the way he executed it. What made it so special was that virtually everything he said rang true, leaving fans to wonder where AEW will take the "storyline" next.

    That was exactly what needed to happen with this MJF drama, and AEW nailed it. If he is indeed eyeing the exit, it will be interesting to see how he's utilized in the next 18 months before his contract expires.

    Nonetheless, MJF went right back to being the most relevant star on the show with that one promo. Now the key is following it up accordingly and not wasting the massive amount of buzz it received.

    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.