The Aftermath Of CM Punk’s Injury

(Photo Credit: WWE)

WWE was in an impressive place as 2024 began. The Royal Rumble was on the horizon, with several potential winners all lined up ready for an opportunity at WrestleMania glory. The Rock returned to WWE and teased a potential match down the line with Roman Reigns. Plus, these things all competed with CM Punk’s return to WWE from back in November as leading press headed into the new year. These are all great things, but the last few weeks have been a testament to the old adage, “Card subject to change”.

After much buzz on social media, mostly due to Tony Khan’s very outlandish and unnecessary comments, Seth Rollins and Jinder Mahal’s World Heavyweight Championship Match had many eyes on it. Rollins would find a way to retain the gold and continue his impressive reign at the top of Monday Night Raw, but he suffered a legitimate injury to his knee in the match, spooking fans that yet another historic run as world champion of his would-be ended due to injury. Thankfully, it seems that he will avoid vacating the title and a long period of time on the shelf, but he will be out of in-ring action for a little while. All the while, his rumored WrestleMania XL Match with CM Punk still seemed likely…until the Royal Rumble Match itself. Unfortunately, Punk, the runner-up in the said match, was injured in the match, tearing his triceps and putting him on the shelf for at least half of the year to come, if not longer. In the meantime, we will be without the Second City Savior right after we got him back (it feels an awful lot like what happened to Cody Rhodes less than two years ago). Now, WWE must pivot all of their plans to readjust and truly find a way to make WrestlMania as memorable as possible without one of their top matches, the likely main event of night one, in play.

Truly, all of this starts with determining what to do with the World Heavyweight Title. Rollins’ injury may not be the worst it possibly could have been, but without CM Punk and that match to look forward to, the first thought that comes to mind is to get the title off of Seth so he can focus on getting 100% without pushing too hard. That could open the door for Damian Priest, who could then easily transition to WrestleMania matches against the likes of Drew McIntyre, Sami Zayn, or even Finn Balor if the cracks in the Judgement Day explode. In all likelihood, however, Rollins will still march into Philadelphia this April as champion to defend his title after an incredible run as champion. With that in mind, who could Seth face? He has actively tried to persuade Cody Rhodes to pick him, but there is not one way to justify Cody choosing anyone other than Roman Reigns to finish that story. So, the first pivot choice is a member of the Judgement Day. Maybe Damian Priest announces his cash-in to get the big opportunity at WrestleMania. Or, maybe Finn Balor finds his way there It seems like whoever faces Rollins will be the victor of an Elimination Chamber Match in Perth later this month, but that remains to be seen. If not, that opens the door for Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER to stake his claim, and potentially be the first man to hold the IC Title and a World Title simultaneously in decades. We saw the Ring General confront Rollins the week he announced his injury, so the seeds have been planted. Whether this is for WrestleMania or sometime down the line, it is an intriguing proposition as to whether or not GUNTHER gets his shot at the top title on Raw.

All of the aforementioned names are great candidates, but it seems to me that only one man has any leg to stand on when it comes to facing Seth Rollins at WrestleMania. Finn and Damian will likely defend the tag team titles in Philly, while GUNTHER could be dealing with Sami Zayn so that leaves the man who capitalized on CM Punk’s injury in the best way possible: Drew McIntyre. While his WWE contract might be up shortly after WrestleMania, surely a WrestleMania main event world title match where he could finally win the big one in front of fans would be enough to get him to re-sign, and honestly, it makes the most sense. Drew is on the revitalization run he has needed, slowly easing into a heel turn that went full throttle this past week on Raw when he attacked CM Punk’s injured arm, sending him packing to the sidelines while arranging a massive program for when Punk returns. This is a move very similar to that of Seth Rollins, who attacked an injured Cody Rhodes on his way out for surgery in 2022, leading to Seth winning the United States title (Raw’s top title at the time), and eventually the World Heavyweight title shortly thereafter. It set Rollins up for the run he needed to return to the top and now is the perfect time to do the same for Drew. McIntyre can use the momentum gained as a heel from taking out Punk to head into Perth, win a chamber match, and punch a ticket to WrestleMania to get his rematch with Seth Rollins.

Now, Seth and Drew have faced during this title reign of Rollins’, most notably at Crown Jewel in November, but this would be much different. That Drew McIntyre was dipping his toes in the heel antics pond and was still very much on the fence. Now, he is a full-blown heel, who injured and then attacked the most beloved man in the company who we just got back after a decade away. There is no better time to pull the trigger on heel Drew McIntyre as World Heavyweight Champion. Most of all, as mentioned a moment ago, Drew has waited 4 years for the chance to right the wrongs created by the pandemic. Drew’s crowning moment, his biggest win ever, came in front of an empty Performance Center at the beginning of the pandemic. Drew has worked too hard and done too much since his 2017 WWE return to not get a crowning moment as world champion in front of a live audience. In Philadelphia this April, it’s time for the Scottish Warrior to walk down the aisle to Broken Dreams, Claymore Kick Seth Rollins’ head in, and walk out as the World Heavyweight Champion. If that goes down, a wrong will have been righted, and the Scottish Warrior will finally be on top once again, and all will be right in the world at long last!