Push or Bury: What Should WWE Do With Austin Theory?

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 15, 2022

Push or Bury: What Should WWE Do With Austin Theory?

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    On first pass, it might sound a little weird to wonder whether WWE should push Austin Theory or shove him to the side.

    Theory, after all, got the big nod from the company with his Money in the Bank triumph and he's since been on the outskirts of each and every big moment since flirting with the idea he'll cash-in the briefcase.

    Butβ€”and it's a big butβ€”timing is everything in WWE and Theory's big push started essentially amid the creative transition from Vince McMahon to Triple H. Plus, WWE's main-event scene is in a rut with the top titles worth cashing in on stalled on one guy.

    It's fair to wonder if Triple H decides to go the other way with the timing-based briefcase and Theory himself.

    Let's take a look at the case for and against both directions with one of WWE's most promising prospects.

The Case for a Theory Push

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    The hard part on this front is over: Theory has the briefcase and in a matter of seconds WWE can catapult him to new heights (infamy-wise or otherwise) with a successful cash-in attempt.

    And why not? It's not like McMahon was ill-advised to cozy up with Theory as a top-guy-in-the making. He's got the look. He can talk and work crowds while telling a story. He can even go in the ring, even if it's pretty clear he's still not as polished.

    Not only would a cash-in be exciting for on-screen purposes, but it also makes a ton of sense for the long-term. Theory is only 25 years old and a potential top main-event star for 10-plus years. In that sense, he's the WWE equivalent of AEW's MJF, for example, as a possible foundational building block.

    It doesn't have to be boring, either. There's fun storyline potential if they can dream up a way to get Theory just one of Roman Reigns' titles. That keeps the company's top dog clean as the next Mania approaches and positions Theory as the top guy on the other program at the same time. Some sort of stipulation that results in him swiping a title would be incredibly memorable and move many pieces at once in the right direction.

    No matter how it gets done, Theory getting a solidified push would be WWE embracing another young star at a pivotal moment.

The Case for a Theory Bury

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    It already feels like WWE doesn't know what to do with Theory and the briefcase; it might have been the same way no matter who was in charge of creative, Otis-style.

    Having Theory come out for a cash-in attempt and whiff on near-misses where he gets walloped by the likes of Tyson Theory might get a laugh, but it's not doing him any favors in the eyes of fans.

    And Theory already had a credibility problem as soon as he won the briefcase. He's not a viable threat to Reigns by any means and he hasn't proven squirrely enough to pull off an upset or unexpected moment.

    Right now, it just feels like too much, too soon. Barring something wildly creative, there's no viable or clear timeframe to have Theory pull off a successful cash-in on a top guy. And using it as a cash-in on a mid-tier title (if that's even still possible?) would do more harm than good.

    Burial doesn't have to signal the end of a career or anything dramatic. Maybe a spoiled cash-in attempt is a silver-lining sort of affair where his character can shift gears, "learn from it" and prosper later.

    But right now, WWE has a roster where far too many deserving guys sit on the sidelines while Roman commands both top titles as it is. Giving one or both to Theory would garner brutal reactions and set an uninteresting course.

Verdict: Bury, with Style

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    Too much about professional wrestling is about timing and the timing with Theory just doesn't make sense right in the middle of Reigns' run. Heck, it doesn't make sense given what we've seen about Theory, whether it's him or the reactions he draws.

    WWE would seem to agree. We've seen what the company does when it wants to legitimately strap a rocket to someone, as seen with examples such as Finn Balor and Drew McIntyre. Theory isn't getting that, nor is he on that level.

    But even if the briefcase-based shove was premature, this certainly doesn't need to be the end of Theory as fans know him.

    Rather than view this as an all-or-nothing proposition, WWE could always use an innovative approach to actually boost Theory via a loss. Kevin Owens goading the younger heel into putting the briefcase itself on the line in a match and stealing it comes to mind.

    Theory cockily putting something so prized on the line and losing it to a witty veteran could serve as a teaching moment for his character. Sure, he could still be a heel, but one sharpened by the experience who starts to resemble the "Architect" version of Seth Rollins.


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