It’s always disheartening when WWE performers get injured, both for the performers themselves as well as their fans. But it’s absolutely heartbreaking when an injury occurs on the road to WrestleMania. Sadly, this is the case for CM Punk, who announced on last night’s Raw that he tore his triceps at the Royal Rumble and will have to miss WrestleMania XL while he recovers from surgery.
This news came to the profound shock and dismay of WWE fans who were ecstatic to see Punk back on the WrestleMania stage, myself included. As a huge CM Punk fan, I lost my mind when he made his long-awaited return to WWE late last year. Like most fans, I also immediately began speculating who he should face at the historic 40th WrestleMania in Philadelphia.
While nothing was ever confirmed by the company itself, it was obvious to anyone with eyes that the plan seemed to be Punk facing off against current World Heavyweight Champion Seth “Freakin” Rollins in the main event of WrestleMania night one. With Seth and Punk squaring off in a war of words as recently as a month ago, it seems WWE was laying the groundwork for what many felt was one of the marquee attractions of the biggest wrestling show of the year.
Whatever plans WWE may have had for these two in April, it seems that the match may have been in jeopardy even before Punk’s injury. During a title defense on Raw a few weeks ago, Rollins was reported to have torn his MCL late in the match. The champ cut a promo a week later in which he promised he would be healed up and ready to compete by WrestleMania, but that still seems up in the air as of right now.
But assuming Rollins is able to make it to Mania after all, the question still remains: who should challenge him at WrestleMania if not Punk? I believe there are a few viable candidates who could fill the role and give Rollins a tough fight for the gold at the showcase of the immortals. Here are five performers I believe could feasibly fill the Punk-sized void at this year’s WrestleMania: