The Rapid Rise of Theory in WWE

Theory Rapid Rise in WWE

As reported at Last Word on Pro Wrestling, on April 18’s broadcast of Monday Night Raw, Theory defeated Finn Balor to capture the United States Championship. The title, for Theory, is the culmination of the rapid ascent he has undergone from NXT talent to a performer quickly climbing the card on the WWE flagship brand.

The Rise of Theory in WWE

Theory’s Beginning

The former adolescent bodybuilder from Georgia began his pro wrestling journey in 2016, quickly involved with World Wrestling Network brand Full Impact Pro. He later debuted for EVOLVE. After a strong showing in these promotions, Theory began his association with WWE. After a handful of supporting appearances on Raw in 2019, Theory debuted on NXT. Despite early appearances as an enhancement talent, Theory’s fortunes changed when he joined the stable The Way.

Time in the Way

Throughout 2020 and 2021, until WWE’s rebranding of the “Black and Gold” brand into NXT 2.0, The Way were NXT’s fan-favorite comic heel stable. Led by “Mr. NXT”, Johnny Gargano, and wife Candice LeRae, Theory and Indi Hartwell were swayed into the “Gargano Way” philosophy, a ruthless seize the day mentality which propelled the faction’s attempts to climb NXT’s heights. Eventually, they softened into a comedic faction powered by dynamics of found family. NXT launched its new era with Hartwell’s wedding to Dexter Lumis, one of Theory’s final appearances for the brand.

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Theory on the WWE Main Roster

Theory debuted on Raw in October 2021, as a comic heel who blithely relished embarrassing established players like Rey Mysterio and A.J. Styles. He also flaunts his status as Vince McMahon’s handpicked “protégé”. Theory’s insouciant bluster received yet more of a spotlight during 2022’s “Road to WrestleMania”.

Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania 38

Theory vied for the now defunct WWE Championship, then held by Bobby Lashley, at 2022’s Elimination Chamber. Desperate to escape Brock Lesnar, Theory scaled one of the Elimination Chamber pods with Lesnar in hot pursuit, and found himself manhandled by the “Beast Incarnate” in an F5.

Despite losing his shot at the WWE Championship, which was reclaimed by Lesnar, Theory found his path to WrestleMania 38 by antagonizing Friday Night SmackDown commentator Pat McAfee. The two parlayed their interbrand feud into a well received WrestleMania 38 bout which was interrupted by McMahon. Fresh from besting Theory, McAfee also accepted the impromptu challenge of the Chairman, whom Theory helped along to an underhanded victory.

Possibilities For Theory’s Reign

With April 18’s victory, Theory has followed in the footsteps of Riddle and Damian Priest. Both also held the United States Championship soon after being called from NXT to Raw, and both are now in popular storylines alongside WWE elder statesmen: Riddle reigns as a Raw Tag Team Campion alongside Randy Orton, and Priest turned heel and teamed up with Edge in a Lost Boys reminiscent vampire-esque gimmick. Theory’s possible challengers for the United States title could include:

Ricochet-Having recently united the WWE Championship and the WWE Universal Championship into the Undisputed Championship, held by Roman Reigns, as well as NXT’s North American and Cruiserweight championships, it would be interesting to pit WWE’s two undercard champions against each other. It would be especially palatable given WWE’s pivot toward softening its brand split, with WWE Superstars now more frequently appearing across brand. While unifying the two midcard belts would be a bridge too far, a feud and the culminating match pitting Theory’s nascent talents against Ricochet’s high flying prowess would be an engaging step in Theory’s rapid rise.

Omos-Theory and Omos are, to some extent, on similar journeys. Omos was long rumored to be due a solo push, and it began in late 2021 when he and tag team A.J. Styles fell out. Since then, Omos has vowed to “dominate” any WWE Superstar who crosses his path. His clash of titans against Bobby Lashley at WrestleMania 38 ended in defeat for Omos. A feud with Theory would be a classic WWE tableau of a smaller, scrappier fighter overcoming a giant.

The Rise of Theory in WWE – In Conclusion

Theory now holds the WWE United States Championship, crowning a rapid ascent of a matter of months at WWE, and opening the door for future opportunities.

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