Austin Theory: Sleeping with the Fishes?

(Photo Credit: WWE)

This past Monday night on Raw, Austin Theory finally cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase. I imagined that discussing the outcome of a Theory cash-in would be regarding a scenario where he finally confronted Roman Reigns. Win or lose, he would be better off for having made the valiant attempt. Now just a few days removed from it happening, I still cannot believe what actually transpired. Is this the first burial of the Triple H regime? Is this just trying to avoid Theory taking a big loss to Roman Reigns? Is it Theory getting set for a bigger push at a later date? There are way more questions than answers right now, but one thing is for certain: this did not make any sense at all.

Let’s revisit the events that transpired. Seth Rollins was issuing an open challenge for the United States Championship. Mustafa Ali seemed ready to accept, only for an angry Bobby Lashley to arrive, attack Ali for the second time on the night, and seem like he was going to accept the challenge. Then, Lashley and Rollins erupt into a brawl, ending with Lashley taking out Rollins on the outside. Austin Theory soon arrived and added himself into the mix, and things seemed like the chaos would end with Theory accepting the challenge and possibly winning back his United States Championship. That’s when the wheels completely fell off the wagon. Theory decided, for some unknown reason, to cash in his briefcase on the secondary title known as the United States Championship. This had never been done before, and truthfully had never been something to cross my mind in the nearly 2 decades we have had the match at our disposal. There is not a technical rule that I am aware of to ever state this was not allowed, but history has shown it to be a one-way ticket to a World Championship match, and most times, a world championship reign for the person who won it. To see Theory do this when an open challenge for the title still technically stood as the bell never rang for Rollins to face Ali or Lashley, makes even less sense on top of the conundrum that is the thought process to cash in on anything other than the world title in Roman Reigns’ possession.

The match began, and Theory would hit A-Town Down on Rollins, looking like he would at least win the title amidst the complicated and confusing series of decisions being made. However, Lashley returning to pull the referee out, attack Theory, and leave him as a limp body for Rollins to eventually nail with the Curb Stomp and secure the win, retaining the title, was the icing on this horrible cake that had been cooked up by Triple H’s creative team. This is truly the first major misstep for Hunter since he’s been in charge, as this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Austin Theory has been made to look so weak since the transition of power took place and has been made to look like a fool. Occasional glimpses of what a strong talent he is peaked through, but largely what he had built with Vince in charge is all gone. This was the nail in the proverbial coffin that was the major push he received.

There are a lot of ways this could be analyzed. One way is to have Theory himself address the choice to cash in on Rollins. The explanation could save some face and try to piece together some sense of why he made that call. It could be that he’s afraid of Roman Reigns, or that there’s just no way to get to Roman since he’s surrounded by the seemingly impenetrable Bloodline he has surrounded himself with, and so he chose to attack a champion who was more vulnerable than Roman ever seems to be. This would make some sense, granted admitting he’s afraid of the world champion doesn’t do Theory many favors to repair any damage done by this. They could also just be burying Theory as well, which hopefully is not the case, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Hopefully, he is able to have a fresh restart and maybe return to the levels he has proven he is capable of performing at. Not everyone can be World Champion, however, and Triple H may be burying Theory as a symbolic end to the Vince era, or because he really doesn’t see what Vince saw in him. Whatever way you look at this, there’s nothing to change the fact that this was a baffling decision from a booking standpoint, and a disappointing one from a fan’s standpoint. Theory may not be the most beloved superstar on the roster, but he has shown in this last year that he can hang with WWE’s best, and with some polish and fine-tuning, he could become the next version of Randy Orton.

I’m still very disheartened by this decision, but we must try to remember that this is a prime example that no booker will ever be perfect. Triple H has had a fantastic start to his time as Head of Creative these last 100 days or so, but he is human, and he will make some questionable calls as well. I don’t think it will ever reach the level of confusing decisions Vince used to make, but Hunter too will make calls at times that divide the audience more than it brings them together. It happened in NXT when he ran things there, but it was sporadic and not always something that lasted for too long. So, let us keep this in mind as things go forward, and in the meantime hope that there is hope still for Theory to return to the main event scene very soon.

Only time will tell what will happen to Theory, what type of an explanation will be offered, and what will be next for all those involved in this scenario, but right now, one thing is for certain, and that is the old Godfather line coming to life. Right now, Austin Theory is sleeping with the fishes.

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