WWE Champion Drew McIntyre has tested positive for COVID-19. What does this mean moving forward?
WWE announced just prior to 2 EST that WWE Champion Drew McIntyre is COVID-positive and is now in quarantine. There are both immediate and long-term ramifications from this news.
First, let’s give credit to WWE for actually acknowledging the news. For an organization that hasn’t even referred to COVID directly on air (relying on euphemisms such as, “These trying times”), to see them so directly announce and address the issue is a net positive especially considering their 2020 of negative public relations.
Second, Fightful Select is reporting that there have been a string of positive COVID tests since the holidays affecting WWE, AEW, and Impact Wrestling. Some wrestlers and their appearances were nixed because of the positive tests. This is seemingly going to affect WWE more than the other two promotions since Impact Wrestling tapes around two months worth of shows at a time, and AEW taped a few weeks of shows last week.
Turning to the effects for McIntyre and WWE, in the immediate, McIntyre was scheduled to face Randy Orton on tonight’s episode of Raw (Jan. 11) and although it was scheduled to be a non-title match, this still leaves the WWE Championship in a precarious situation. He was also supposed to answer Goldberg’s challenge from last week’s episode.
If we go by the standard ten to 14-day quarantine (assuming there are no setbacks), McIntyre could return for a presumed WWE Championship match against Goldberg at the Royal Rumble on Jan. 31. However, any setback and that match is off.
It’s been a long time since I can remember WWE implementing the 30-day defense clause where a champion would be stripped of their title for not defending within 30 days. If the situation worsens or shows no sign of improvement, this may be the best option for WWE; I’d rather not see an interim champion storyline with the top championship on the show.
Hopefully, if it does worsen, WWE doesn’t just put the title on Goldberg or Orton, and instead holds a tournament of some sort. This could be an ideal moment to reintroduce the “King of the Ring” tournament, but only if they do away with the winner adopting a King gimmick. Rather, the title could be ultimate prize for the King of the Ring.
If not the “King of the Ring” tournament, WWE could being back the “Gold Rush” tournament from 2005, most memorable for this moment in the Shawn Michaels vs. Shelton Benjamin match:
Regardless, having the WWE Champion out of action for any period of time, let alone the build to WrestleMania, is like my Philadelphia 76ers having to play the Denver Nuggets last week with only eight players (seven who could actually play) as the other half of the team was out due to COVID protocols.
Here’s hoping for a quick and smooth recovery for McIntyre. I guess at the very least, Raw tonight should be very interesting.