Push or bury: What should WWE do with Austin’s theory?
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On first pass, it might seem a little weird to wonder if WWE should push Austin Theory or push him to the side.
Theory, after all, got a big corporate nod with its Money in the Bank triumph and it’s been on the periphery of every big moment since flirting with the idea. that he would collect the briefcase.
But– and it’s a big but– timing is everything in WWE and Theory’s big push basically started in the middle of Vince McMahon’s creative transition to Triple H. Plus, WWE’s main event scene is in a rut with the best titles worth cashing in on a guy.
It’s fair to wonder if Triple H decides to go the other way with the briefcase based on timing and Theory himself.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both directions with one of WWE’s most promising prospects.
The case of a theoretical thrust
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The hardest part on that front is over: Theory has the briefcase and within seconds WWE can catapult him to new heights (infamy or otherwise) with a successful cash-in attempt.
And why not? It’s not like McMahon was ill-advised to approach Theory as the best guy in the making. He has the look. He can talk and get crowds working while telling a story. He can even step into the ring, though it’s pretty clear that he’s still not that polite.
Not only would a cash-in be exciting for on-screen purposes, it would also make a lot of sense in the long run. Theory is only 25 years old and has been a potential main event star for over 10 years. In that sense, he’s the WWE equivalent of AEW’s MJF, for example, as a possible staple.
It doesn’t have to be boring either. There’s fun storyline potential if they can think of a way to get Theory right a Roman Reigns titles. This keeps the top dog in the business heading into the next Mania and positions Theory as the top guy in the other program at the same time. Some sort of stipulation that would have it sweep a title would be incredibly memorable and move multiple pieces in the right direction at once.
No matter how it’s done, Theory getting a solidified push would be WWE embracing another young star at a pivotal moment.
The Case for a Bury Theory
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It already feels like WWE doesn’t know what to do with Theory and the briefcase; it could have been the same no matter who was in charge of creation, Otis-style.
Bringing Theory out for a cash-in attempt and feeling the near misses where he gets run over by the likes of Tyson Theory might be a laugh, but it does him a disservice in the eyes of fans.
And Theory already had a credibility problem as soon as he won the briefcase. He’s by no means a viable threat to Reigns, and he hasn’t proven to be squirrely enough to pull off an upset or unexpected moment.
Right now it’s just too much, too soon. Unless there’s something very creative, there’s no viable or clear time frame for Theory to successfully cash in on a leading man. And using it as cash-in on a mid-tier title (if that’s still possible?) would do more harm than good.
The funeral doesn’t have to signal the end of a career or anything dramatic. Maybe a wasted cash-in attempt is some sort of money-grabbing deal 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 the top two titles as is. Giving either or both to Theory would elicit backlash and make for an uninteresting course.
Verdict: bury, in style
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Too much pro wrestling is all about timing and timing with Theory just doesn’t make sense right in the middle of Reigns’ run. Heck, that doesn’t make sense given what we’ve seen about Theory, either him or the reactions he’s getting.
WWE would seem to agree. We’ve seen what the company does when it wants to legitimately attach a rocket to someone, as seen with examples like Finn Balor and Drew McIntyre. The theory doesn’t understand that, and he’s not on that level either.
But even if the briefcase-based push was premature, it certainly doesn’t need to be the end of Theory as fans know it.
Rather than looking at this as an all-or-nothing proposition, WWE could still use an innovative approach to actually boost the theory via a loss. Kevin Owens tricking the young heel into putting the briefcase itself on the line in a match and stealing it comes to mind.
The theory putting arrogance on something so precious and losing it to a witty veteran could serve as a teaching moment for his character. Sure, he could still be a heel, but a heel honed by experience that’s starting to look like the “Architect” version of Seth Rollins.