Even World Wrestling Entertainment's not cavalier enough to contrive an injury to its marquee main-event superstar and long-tenured World Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins, just to drive an audience toward a winner-take-all open tourney for his belt at its Nov. 22 Survivor Series event on the WWE Network. Although when you let the scenario play out in your head, you can start to consider affixing a, ".... right?" at the end of that statement. But lo, it appears to be all too real that the charismatic former Shield leader and breakout solo performer was felled with a knee injury while on tour in Ireland, and a pretty brutal one at that (think of every three-letter medical acronym you can tear, and that about sums it up).
It's unequivocally devastating news for a company whose ratings have ebbed and flowed over the past few years and has been looking to further insinuate themselves with mainstream sports media to help offset the challenges of launching the aforementioned, subscriber-based WWE Network and satisfy stock holders. But of all the top talent who've been sidelined due to the job's inherent risks of late (crossover pop-culture phenomenon Daniel Bryan comes to mind), losing Rollins really stings. At just 29 and, up to this point, relatively healthy, he teemed upside as the future face of the company both athletically and -- as his high-profile "feud" with Jon Steward demonstrated -- a media-friendly ambassador.
It's tragic for Rollins (who will recover and be back better than ever), crappy for viewers and disastrous for the company's suits, but I wouldn't exactly cancel your WWE Network registration and find alternate plans for two Sundays from now just yet. The impetus is unfortunate, but the end result of a free-for-all race to the gold (exact details and participants are TBA) is catnip for diehards desperate for something out of the box, and an inherently appealing enough scenario to lure some casual Monday Night Raw passersby and curiosity-seekers. Rollins' intended Survivor Series opponent, Roman Reigns (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's real-life cousin), would be a presumptive favorite, but it behooves wrestling acolytes in the know and sporting tourists alike with a yen for the unthinkable and underdogs (and epitomizes everything about this muscular soap opera that makes it great) to tune in just in case the winner and new World Heavyweight Champion turns out to be one of these guys.
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Kenny Herzog is Thrillist's Senior Entertainment Editor, and is very serious about sports entertainment. You can find him on Twitter @kennyherzog.