With the injury Seth Rollins just suffered on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw, it seems as though all the plans for his big match against Triple H at WrestleMania 33 are out the window. This has yet to be confirmed, as some reports are stating he may just be able to get cleared to compete in time, but if it’s that much down to the wire, WWE needs to play it safe and have a backup option in place rather than pulling a big match at the last minute and then leaving a 30 minute gap in time on the card.
The problem with the way WWE tends to book WrestleMania matches, though, is if you’re a big enough priority on the card, you’re probably considered a lock and the creative team doesn’t want to waste time figuring out alternative ways to get things done. Hell, we’ve seen issues in the past where they’ve had plans that were screwed up 6 months prior and it still felt as though there wasn’t enough time to find a suitable replacement, so imagine how much they must be scrambling now that they are just two months away from the biggest show of the year.
That being said, it’s not the end of the world, and there are some people on the roster who might have something to offer when it comes to being an opponent for Triple H at this year’s WrestleMania, so I wanted to present five potential options I can see being viable candidates.
Note: Keep in mind that I’m working under the assumption that several rumored matches are guarantees at this point, such as Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker, Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt, Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar and Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho.
1. Shane McMahon
One of the matches being spoken about for WrestleMania this year is Shane McMahon against AJ Styles, which sounds just awful to me. Styles deserves someone much, much better in the ring and he’s not even had much animosity toward Shane to justify that feud happening. If anything, Shane McMahon should be wrestling The Miz on behalf of Daniel Bryan since that program isn’t going to end with Bryan stepping back into the ring and somebody needs to act as his surrogate. A match against Styles just wouldn’t feel right, but a match against Triple H does have its merits.
For one, there’s the obvious animosity built in between Shane and Stephanie that can be a factor into the feud because of course, Shane isn’t going to fight his sister. Her husband can pick the fight in her stead, though, wanting to kick Shane’s ass for her honor. For extra bonus points, Daniel Bryan can accompany Shane to the ring while Stephanie accompanies Triple H, whom she appoints as the new General Manager of Monday Night Raw when she fires Mick Foley, who can get involved in the match at some point to help Shane out.
Raw vs. SmackDown doesn’t have to be a Survivor Series event, as we’ve had Bragging Rights in the past and even Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny at WrestleMania, so with the brand split being reintroduced this year, it would be strange to not feel any kind of presence at this pay-per-view. This would satisfy that necessity and it would open itself up to a different style match from what we’re going to see with some of the other bouts, as this would undoubtedly be some kind of No Disqualification scenario as that is what Shane is best at.
To cap it all off, who does Vince McMahon side with in this storyline? Does he opt to support his real son or his son-in-law?
2. AJ Styles
As mentioned above, AJ Styles deserves to have a good opponent this year at WrestleMania. The only rumblings have been about Shane McMahon being who he’d go up against and I’d much rather see him face The Miz, which would leave both AJ Styles and Triple H without an opponent.
Maybe this all starts when Triple H cuts a promo about how indie guys aren’t built to last and that’s why Seth Rollins got injured, which AJ Styles takes offense to and wants to prove Triple H wrong. When it comes to a storyline, I honestly think it doesn’t matter a great deal. Fans probably just wouldn’t care all that much if WWE simply said “screw it, you guys would be interested in this never-before-seen match, right?” I’d imagine most people would be intrigued and would just go along for the ride.
Triple H can perform well with a variety of different wrestlers, but something I’ve always found quite interesting is when he’s a heel and up against someone who is physically smaller than him like Shawn Michaels. In those situations, he can play up his size and strength to really dominate and set up his opponent for a big victory. Styles fits that bill and I think the two of them could put on a fantastic match.
3. Samoa Joe
I don’t know how they would pull this off, considering the only exposure to the main roster Samoa Joe has had right now has been being the exact person who injured Seth Rollins under Triple H’s orders, but if they can figure out a way to explain why they’d go from allies to enemies over the next few weeks, I’m down to see them scrap.
If the plans hadn’t gone awry, it looks as though Fastlane would have seen Samoa Joe defeating Seth Rollins with some help from Triple H, then Rollins and Triple H would have fought at WrestleMania and Joe would have…well…what? Does he get thrown in the battle royal? Does he jump ship to SmackDown to fight John Cena after he loses the WWE Championship in the Elimination Chamber match? (If so, why?) Does he just go back down to NXT disappointingly?
All things considered, a match between Samoa Joe and Triple H could be a lot of fun and it would give Joe a huge, huge boost to his main roster career if he came out of it victorious. We know he’ll be booked as a credible beast, but so few people have scored wins over Triple H that if he pulled it off, he’d go straight to the top of the division and be in contention for the Universal or WWE Championship almost immediately.
Plus, it’s a match we haven’t seen before, which—as stressed with the AJ Styles option—is almost always more interesting than seeing WWE go back to the well to repeat something that has happened multiple times in the past.