The Spare Room: Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder?

Pro wrestling is a very tough sport. We all know that. These men and women put their health on the line each and every time they step between those ropes. They do everything in their power to avoid injuries, but sometimes, they just happen.

Two men who were unable to avoid the injury bug recently are Kofi Kingston and Rusev. Kofi had been dealing with bone chips in his ankle for a while and needed surgery to get that cleaned up, and is rumored to be out of action for about two months, while Rusev is set to miss the same amount of time (albeit his time started earlier) after having surgery on his shoulder.

I don't wish injury upon any of these folks, because, as I mentioned, they're putting themselves on the line for the sake of my fun and entertainment, so don't misunderstand me when I say this, but... it's probably a good thing a Kofi needed surgery, and it's potentially a great thing that Rusev needed surgery. Hear me out.

When news broke that Kofi would be on the shelf, everyone wondered what would happen to Big E and Xavier Woods. Surely, they could continue on with New Day being a two-man group, and everything would be fine for when Kofi was ready to make his return. We got our answer with another report saying that Woods and E would get a break, as well, so that the trio could return together when Kofi is all healed up.

Similarly, when news broke that Rusev would be sidelined, everyone wondered what would happen to Lana. Surely, she was over enough with live crowds that the company could find something for her to do while Rusev was gone. We got our answer with a recent report saying that not only are Rusev and Lana splitting up as an on-screen couple, but Lana will be repackaged as a face and as an in-ring performer.

WWE television without The New Day and Rusev is going to look pretty weird, but consider it a blessing for all parties involved. Let's start chronologically with Rusev.

Him being sent to Smackdown was done very quietly, considering it wasn't even done on television, and he wasn't around for the move. However, he had used up all of his time on Raw. For too long, he had been booked in a weird spot, being a heel that is a heel because he... defends his wife and doesn't like for other men to say negative things about her. That scoundrel! He's been used and abused, and his WrestleMania 31 entrance on the top of a tank seems like it was over a decade ago. If he stayed on Raw, he ran the risk of becoming nothing more than a lower midcard joke. Smackdown being the "land of opportunity" means some good things could be in the future for Rusev. He can get a fresh start as a monster on Tuesday nights. The current "big man" heel lineup on Smackdown consists of Baron Corbin and Erick Rowan, and Rusev is a different type of "big man" than either of them, so there is definitely a lane for him to flourish. At face value, being apart from Lana on-screen might seem like a detriment to him, but it has all the potential in the world to head in the exact opposite direction. Now, he can simply be that monster that he should be. He doesn't have to be in storylines where he's booked to defend his wife from someone making sexual advances at her. He doesn't have to be in storylines where she gets mad at him and goes to fool around with someone else to make him jealous. Imagine the matches he could have with someone like AJ Styles, who would bump like a pinball for him and make him look like a billion bucks. Imagine the matches he could have with someone like Shinsuke Nakamura, who can be physical with anyone of any size, and could create some hard-hitting classics. There are a lot of options for him on the "Blue Brand", and many of those options are new, fresh matches that we either haven't seen at all or have rarely seen. With only a minimal amount of effort (more than they put in with Jinder Mahal), the Smackdown writers could easily make Rusev the main event player that we all thought he would be in 2014 and 2015.

As for The New Day, they're in a unique spot. They have been given prime "real estate" on television every week for the last couple years. They have been a merchandising machine, from t-shirts to Funko vinyl figures to cereal to unicorn headbands, and just about everything in between. They got to hold the WWE/Raw Tag Team Titles for a record 484 days. Somewhere along the way, though, even some of their biggest fans and supporters began to think they were being overexposed a bit. We were seeing them all the time, and things were becoming formulaic. Their promos were basically nothing but "AWWW insert-city-here and run through opening catchphrases, insert-pop-culture-reference-here, we're going to beat our opponents BECAUUUSSSEEE... NEW... DAY ROCKS", and people wanted to tune them out. Taking them off of television for a brief period of time could be very beneficial for all three members of the group. On a physical level, they all get to rest and recover a bit, but the time off also gives them time to brainstorm some new ideas for themselves. More so than just about any WWE act, New Day seems to have creative control over the things we see, what they get to say in promos, and so on. Not being on the road lets them recharge their batteries, so to speak, and means we could get some fresh ideas when they do make their return. I've seen some people say that it could give them time to come up with ideas for the group's split, and while that's true, I think we're not as close to that happening as some would like. They were just sent to Smackdown, and their "debut" gets hyped every week. I just don't see them getting that type of hype, then they split up a couple weeks after returning. Could it happen in 2017? It certainly could, and there's a part of me that hopes it does, but don't count on it. We're going to get to see them feud with The Usos, American Alpha, and some of the other Smackdown talents first.

Of course, these potential positives might not happen. Rusev could return and be stuck in go-nowhere feuds with people like Mojo Rawley. New Day could return and cut the exact same promos as they did before they went away. This is WWE we're talking about, after all. I'm just saying that this could/should be the first step towards maximizing the potential of both acts, giving new life to both the singles and tag team scenes on Tuesday nights.

Now, as for Lana supposedly becoming a singles wrestler with a "dancing seductress" gimmick? Based on reviews of her in-ring work from fans at NXT shows she's worked at, that isn't going to go well for her at all, but hey... you can't win 'em all, right?

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