For those unsure of the term, next man up is what is referred to in sports when teams deal with injuries, retirements, trades, etc. The next person in line is expected to step up and fill the void their predecessor’s absence created.
It’s not any different in wrestling where the high impact superstars endure to entertain us often leads to injuries. When that happens, title runs can be put in jeopardy, the company’s plans for their next big thing can be derailed, and a superstar’s career or life can end in the blink of an eye.
Where does the promotion go?
They tweak the storyline and plug someone else in, hoping they succeed.
It happens all the time, such as Kofi Kingston’s start for the WWE heavyweight championship run.
The most recent was one that had a lot of us scratching our heads: Why was Seth Freaking Rollins wrestling AJ Styles? It wasn’t his arc, it wasn’t even close. The reason was that he took Ricochet’s place. According to some internet fans, Ricochet has an infection in his elbow and couldn’t perform on Raw Reunion.
If that is the case, it makes sense considering it’s his feud with Style and the OC (Original Club) and Rollins just stepped in for the night. Given the amount of moving parts in that segment, it’d be difficult to shift everything around given the lack of heel stables like that with Shane and company tied up with Kevin Owens.
Rollins answered the next man up and had the moment of a lifetime.
Of course, this brings up the question as to how they’re going to make it up to Ricochet. It’s safe to say he’ll either have another segment with them since Shawn Michaels stuck around for Smackdown and may have a couple more appearances, or he’ll get a nice juicy title win.
Better look out Styles. The next man up may be coming for you.