It came as a shock to the wrestling industry when NXT rookie, and 22 year old prodigy talent Austin Theory was announced as a last second replacement for Andrade in his Raw Tag Team Title match at WrestleMania due to injury. However, if you looked at the trend that is Austin Theory’s career, is this really a surprise?
Austin Theory from his actual rookie year in the industry being trained by AR Fox has been a bit of a confusing indie wrestler. Never wrestling for non-WWE affiliated companies after a short stint with CZW, Theory would regularly feature on EVOLVE shows and sometimes be booked for PROGRESS events.
As WWN champion and then EVOLVE Champion, Theory was showcased in matches with Adam Cole, Velveteen Dream, Rodrick Strong, and the former EVOLVE tag team champions The Street Profits. However, not only was he featured, he would regularly win these cross-promotion matches, winning the EVOLVE title from Fabian Aichner at EVOLVE 117. This is not normal in the world of WWE, unless Theory has been on the bill for WWE all along.
This theory (pun intended) would answer a few head-scratching questions at least. When Austin signed to NXT in August 2019 he wasn’t given the red carpet debut that a future star would be given, but more he just simply phased in like one of the guys, the only difference of course being the quickness in his climb to television. The matches he was given on television, and then his random ass call up to the main roster for a WRESTLEMANIA match no matter what the situation is. When you hear that Paul Heyman is fond of him, you can’t help but scoff because Heyman was fond of Sami, Cesaro, Ricochet, and Cedric Alexander just to name a few, and absolutely none of those guys got the push fans may have believed they deserved. With many feeling that Heyman’s endorsement all but ended their pushes entirely.
However, what if this is a swerve, and Theory isn’t a Heyman guy at all, what if he’s a McMahon project? He checks a lot of Vince boxes; Tall, good looking, built, an alright talker… white. It makes a lot of sense, but of course calling Theory a McMahon project is literally fan appreciation suicide, so, why not call him Heyman’s pet project while the puppet master calls the shots from the Wizard of Oz style curtain. This of course would come with a lot of work ethic, which I don’t think Theory lacks, a lot of commitments, which I think Theory relishes, and a lot of responsibility. This concerns me.
Austin Theory in a lot of ways reminds me of John Cena. He came in with a lot of talent and a lot of charisma, but not a lot of chill. Cena became notorious maybe even infamous for being a backstage politician who didn’t necessarily have the business’s best interest in mind when making his name over the years. Can Austin Theory over come the allure of becoming a backstage tyrant?
Theoretically, being five years younger than Cena at his debut would point to the likelihood not being in his favor to be a team player, however, as a start up in a protected version of the indie scene, and under the guidance of AR Fox I’m willing to give Mr. Theory the old college chance. After all, All Day does have much more to offer in ring then a variation of the “five moves of doom”, and seems to be a little more centered in his morals then a young Doctor of Thuganomics, but only time will tell if Austin Theory is an original, or simply a carbon copy.