With the news that Shane McMahon has been taken to hospital with acute diverticulitis and an umbilical hernia, his hotly anticipated tag team match against Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens at Wrestlemania could be in jeopardy.
Presuming that this isn’t all some kind of work then the WWE are going to need to change gears and fast as we enter the final two weeks worth of build going into Wrestlemania.
It will be a real shame if it does turn out to be a legitimate hospitalisation as it’s very rare that we see such a long term blood-feud that actually culminates at Wrestlemania and doesn’t involve the world title.
But, with that being said the WWE aren’t stuck up the creek without a paddle just yet, there are still a few ways that they could go to try and salvage what was a very hot angle for the Smackdown Live brand.
Number 1: Find a replacement for Shane
It’s a bummer if Shane does have to miss out on Daniel Bryan’s return match, especially considering he has been at the very center of the feud since day 1. But fortunately Smackdown does currently have enough lost souls who don’t currently have a place on the Wrestlemania card who could slot into the Commissioner’s role.
Dolph Ziggler is the name which immediately jumps to mind and makes the best sense storyline-wise. He has already been minimally involved in the feud during the lead up to Fastlane, and his brief encounter with Daniel Bryan backstage on Smackdown could be the start of a longer feud. Perhaps Ziggler offers to help Bryan in return for him getting a match against him come Backlash?
The other name who could be slotted into the match is Rusev. Whilst it would make no sense from a storyline perspective, it would certainly be something that the fans could get behind and could you imagine the reception a team of Daniel Bryan and Rusev would get at Wrestlemania?
Number 2: Make it a Triple Threat Match
Another one that doesn’t really make sense from the dynamics of the story they’re trying to build, but seeing Daniel Bryan vs. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens would not only be a great match for Wrestlemania, but it is something that still isn’t out of reach if the right story is told over the next two weeks.
My biggest issue with this actually comes from the fact that it’s yet another Triple Threat match on a Mania card that already has 3 of them. It already feels like triple threat overkill, so adding a fourth into the mix would only be harmful to the reception of each.
It would still feel very last minute and forced, but that’s a sorry situation that the WWE have no way around at the minute.
Number 3: Take it off the card entirely
This would be the biggest shame, but it’s arguably the one that makes the most sense. To have a Daniel Bryan return match at Wrestlemania teased, only to be taken away less than a week later is borderline torture. But it makes sense that if Shane can’t compete then the best way to do justice to the story is to simply leave it for now.
In kayfabe Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn have been fired, there’s no logical reason for them to have a match at Wrestlemania anyway outside of Bryan and Shane wanting revenge. If Shane is going to be good to go in time for Backlash then save the match, sell the attack on Bryan by keeping him off TV until post-Mania. Or have Sami and Kevin try to hijack Wrestlemania itself, only to have Daniel Bryan return to chase them off, culminating in a Backlash match, with Shane returning somewhere in between the two PPVs.
No matter what route the WWE take with this storyline the heat is going to be severely impacted by the lack of Shane McMahon, but as we’ve shown it’s not a dead-end quite yet.
But let’s just keep our fingers crossed that Shane can make it back just in case.