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5 innovative ways WWE included injured stars in storylines

Injury does not necessarily mean absence for a WWE Superstar
Injury does not necessarily mean absence for a WWE Superstar

Over the years, some of the most promising storylines in WWE have either been delayed or totally halted by unfortunate injuries.

From Mustafa Ali allegedly losing his WrestleMania 35 push to Becky Lynch's current hiatus right after finally turning face, injuries can be very disruptive. They have often caused stars to take time away, only to find their momentum eroded upon their return.

Sometimes, though, WWE has found creative ways to keep injured superstars active. Their continued presence on the product helped them preserve their momentum by maintaining visibility and adding layers to their characters. When they finally returned to action, they were able to pick up where they left off, or even find themselves elevated.

Here are five innovative ways the company has included injured stars in storylines.


#5: WWE has a long history of using injured stars as authority figures

Daniel Bryan had an unforgettable run as SmackDown Live general manager
Daniel Bryan had an unforgettable run as SmackDown Live general manager

The authority figure is one of the longest-running tropes in WWE history. Acting as advocates of good or bad with their arbitrary booking powers, these figures have shaped the product for years.

From Vince McMahon's tyrannical reign over the Attitude Era to modern day icons like Teddy Long and Adam Pearce, the concept has served the company well. An often underrated benefit of the authority figure is its usefulness in keeping injured or retired talent on television.

Stars such as Kurt Angle, Sonya Deville and Daniel Bryan have on occasion taken up the title while injured, entertaining the masses as much outside the ring as inside it. The position is often filled by stars who are great on the mic and thus able to advance storylines without physicality.


#4: Injured superstars have sometimes thrived as commentators

Samoa Joe was almost as good a commentator as he was a wrestler
Samoa Joe was almost as good a commentator as he was a wrestler

Speaking of verbally gifted WWE Superstars, some of the greater ones like Kevin Owens, Corey Graves and Samoa Joe have taken to the announce table during recovery.

These stars, whilst on short or long term layoffs, used their gift of gab to entertain millions around the world with their color commentary. Often providing heelish foils to play-by-play commentators, they brought a blend of credible in-ring experience and promo ability unique to them.

Stars like Joe and Owens used their position on commentary to set up their returns to in-ring action. The transition from in-ring competitor to commentator and back highlighted these superstars' versatility and verbal prowess.


#3: Some injured WWE Superstars have been used as supporting members of stables

This years Family Christmas card. ⚖️ twitter.com/wweonfox/statu…

While recovering from injury, superstars in stables or tag teams sometimes continue to be ringside in support of their respective groups.

Rhea Ripley is currently making waves, acting as a human shield and running interference for her Judgment Day teammates. Her presence has become an integral part of the group's success as she continues to be both a potent weapon for her teammates and a compelling character on her own.

Ripley's position in the group allowed her to stay relevant while out with a concussion that ruled her out of Money In The Bank 2022. Her continued presence not only allowed her character to evolve whilst being protected from in-ring losses but also saved the group from falling flat before it really took off.

Superstars like Xavier Woods and Alexa Bliss have also leaned into the non-physical aspects of their characters to produce memorable character work while injured.


#2: Injured WWE Superstars have often managed their peers

Paige managed Absolution whilst out injured
Paige managed Absolution whilst out injured

Another way WWE has used its injured stars in storylines has been by converting them to managers. Despite their inability to compete in the ring, they were able to act as mouthpieces to their peers.

Stars such as Sami Zayn and Paige have managed their counterparts while injured, helping them focus on their in-ring work by taking care of promos.

The role is quite similar in description to commentating or acting as an authority figure because it depends on promo ability. Not only does it keep the manager on television and relevant, but it also enhances the presentation of the superstar being managed.


#1: Some of the most memorable backstage vignettes have been authored by injured superstars

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Being injured takes away a WWE Superstar's ability to perform in the ring, but it frees them up to develop other aspects of their character.

While some stay on-screen and actively involved with the product, others make their mark through backstage segments. These vignettes, like movie trailers, serve to ramp up anticipation for the return of the superstar in question.

One of the most iconic backstage segment series was Randy Orton's run of weekly recovery updates while out with a shoulder injury in late 2002. Dubbed RNN (Randy News Network), these vignettes were designed to be extremely annoying by virtue of their timing and content.

These segments helped Orton find his position on the product and set him apart from the rest of the roster, and without them, his WWE career might have been different.

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Edited by Jacob Terrell
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