The wrestling world received terrible news not once but twice on Friday (Dec. 15), as AEW and WWE will be without the services of Kenny Omega and Charlotte Flair, respectively, for the foreseeable future. The news comes as Omega and Chris Jericho were set to challenge for the AEW World Tag Team titles. Meanwhile, Flair was preparing for Royal Rumble and WrestleMania season.
As unfortunate as these losses are, and as everyone in the wrestling community wishes Omega and Flair a speedy recovery, the fact remains that the show must go on. And when a superstar has to take an unexpected leave, their misfortune represents a golden opportunity for someone else to step up, excite the fans, and make a name for themself.
In February 2019, Mustafa Ali was to begin a world title program with then-WWE Champion Daniel Bryan. But an injury to Ali forced him out of that year’s Elimination Chamber match. Kofi Kingston replaced him, and soon, fans got behind the veteran and multi-time tag champion in a movement that became known as Kofi-Mania, culminating in Kingston winning the WWE title at WrestleMania that year.
In AEW, Omega had been feuding with Don Callis and his bunch before breaking off into a team with Chris Jericho. At Full Gear, the combo defeated the Young Bucks to earn a tag team title match against champions Ricky Starks and Big Bill. With Omega out indefinitely, possibly due to diverticulitis, according to reports, the title showdown at the Worlds End pay-per-view is now up in the air.
Who, if anyone, will replace Kenny Omega?
That’s the million-dollar question. Will Jericho find another partner to challenge for tag team gold? Might an unexpected union between Jericho and a mystery partner yield an on-screen relationship that will captivate viewers, much like the once-odd couple of Adam Cole and MJF did during the summer?
Or will a new team slide into Omega and Jericho’s place? If so, can that team capture lightning in a bottle, as The Acclaim has done?
Meanwhile, the loss of Charlotte Flair has come at the worst time for Flair as WWE begins building to its biggest event of the year, WrestleMania.
In Flair’s situation, she was expected to play a role in the Women’s Championship picture at the Showcase of the Immortals. It was also conceivable that Flair might have teamed with Becky Lynch to make an all-star run at the Women’s Tag Team Championship. The two bitter friends turned enemies recently reconciled on-screen at the Survivor Series.
But now, with Flair out for at least nine months with a knee injury, who will get her spot?
One possibility is Bayley. She’s currently involved in an angle where her place within the group she created, Damage CTRL, is questionable. The former hugger has never won a Royal Rumble, and it’s been almost four years since Bayley has competed for a singles title at WrestleMania. The time might be right for Bayley-Mania to run wild at WWE’s equivalent of the Super Bowl next year in Philadelphia.
Or, someone else entirely could be set for what would be a massive push.
Because of their importance to their respective promotions, Charlotte Flair and Kenny Omega will likely resume their places of prominence upon return. But for now, an opportunity to ascend to their level exists. It’ll be interesting to see who seizes this moment and what it could mean for each company’s programming.