At SummerSlam, Rowan suffered a bicep injury that required The Bludgeon Brothers to drop the SmackDown Tag Team Championship titles to The New Day two days later. It’s expected that Rowan will be out of action for somewhere around 4-6 months.
In the meantime, Harper is still there, so what should WWE do with him?
Here are five potential directions of where he could go in the near future:
The cold, hard truth is that it’s certainly a possibility that WWE does absolutely nothing with Luke Harper whatsoever.
On the positive side of things, that would give him a few months to explore some other hobbies, rest up any nagging injuries he may also be dealing with, and spend a lot of time with his family. If it’s a paid vacation, I’m sure that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, even if it’s bothersome that he wouldn’t get a chance to do what he surely loves to do.
Sometimes, taking time off is better for both sides of the equation, as that person gets missed and when they return, they mean significantly more than if they had just lingered around and jobbed on house shows.
WWE may feel like there isn’t much to either Luke Harper or Erick Rowan without the other and that The Bludgeon Brothers tag team was only really formed to give them something worthwhile to do, so without the other half of the equation, most of the value is gone. In a sense, these two could be in the same position as The Ascension, but on a bigger scale, as they get wins. However, the same concept applies: would anybody really care about Konnor on his own without Viktor, or vice versa?
I happen to think The Bludgeon Brothers tag team has fallen off quicker than it should have, and I’d like to see something different, but WWE might feel like they’re a packaged deal or they’re nothing, and be more willing to wait until Erick Rowan is healed up to do anything with Luke Harper at all.
I can’t see that “nothing” option being the case, at least as far as the live event circuit goes.
Instead, I’d imagine we’ll see Luke Harper popping up on house shows all over the place, wrestling in singles matches against people who have nothing else better to do, like R-Truth, or being part of some multi-man matches just for the sake of having another person in the ring.
Then again, that may extend into the television spectrum, too, as Luke Harper is good enough between the ropes that someone like Daniel Bryan may want to take on a feud with him, even if it’s a short one.
He could very easily slide into the midcard scene on SmackDown LIVE, fighting the likes of Rusev, Tye Dillinger, and Jeff Hardy if he remains a heel—somewhat taking over the Big Cass spot—or WWE could repackage him a bit and let him work with Andrade “Cien” Almas, Shinsuke Nakamura, The Miz and Randy Orton.
For that matter, if he’s retooled enough to be worth a push, it would be interesting to see a guy as big as Luke Harper go up against a champion like Samoa Joe (assuming he wins the title from AJ Styles at Hell in a Cell or Super Show-Down), if not just for a quick placeholder feud to bide time.
If Erick Rowan is out until Royal Rumble or maybe even WrestleMania, if not longer, it would be a shame to miss out on all the potential matches Harper could have, just because he isn’t in a tag team.
Who’s to say he doesn’t just shack up with SAnitY to make their numbers even bigger?
Your first reaction to this is probably the same as mine would be to this: a total groan and sigh of disapproval.
I’m not endorsing this at all, as I don’t think Luke Harper would serve much of a purpose to the unit and would take away from Killian Dain, nor do I think it’s smart to kill off The Bludgeon Brothers/SAnitY feud that could happen down the line by incorporating them.
Of course, you could always do some kind of storyline about Luke Harper being initiated into the fold so he can study them and learn their weaknesses so when Erick Rowan is ready to go, The Bludgeon Brothers reunite and take down SAnitY, but that already happened with Randy Orton and The Wyatt Family, so I’m not super into the rehash.
But if you’re into going back to the well again and again…
Teaming with Bray Wyatt
The Deleters of Worlds was a dud. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt was an interesting concept at first, but it went downhill very quickly, the tag team gave it a momentary adrenaline boost, and right after that, it was obvious that it wasn’t working out.
If the reports are true that Matt Hardy is pretty banged up and may not be wrestling anymore, or at least, not that much longer, it would be a shame for him to continue that team with Bray Wyatt and potentially end his career on such a low note.
Since nothing of the sort has been indicated and Wyatt has been missing in action just the same as Hardy, I think it’s safe to assume that duo is over and WWE Creative is trying to figure out something else for Wyatt.
They may very well just go with the easy option of pairing Wyatt up with Harper once more to give SmackDown LIVE another tag team to play around with, as Bray Wyatt might not have much of a purpose on Raw’s singles division over the next few months.
The downside to this is that we’ve seen it before, with them splitting and reuniting multiple times, so it’s doubtful the pairing would be anything different from anything that has already happened.
The positive, though, is that it at least allows the two to do something and they can keep up the tag division on Tuesday nights. Plus, when Erick Rowan is healthy, we could have a proper 3-on-3 (on 3 if The New Day is also involved…on 3 if Carlito ever gets re-signed to join The Colons) situation with SAnitY and The Wyatt Family.
And no, I don’t think there’s any scenario where Luke Harper and/or Bray Wyatt link up with Braun Strowman again. His character has gotten way past his association with The Wyatt Family at this point.
Down to NXT
I’m of the rare and controversial opinion that sometimes, it would be more beneficial for people to actually spend some time off the main roster and work the NXT shows instead of making one jump to Raw and SmackDown LIVE and staying there.
Some might see that as a downgrade, since it’s kind of like going to the minor leagues, but it helped breathe new life into the careers of Tyson Kidd, Cesaro and Titus O’Neil in the past, so why can’t that happen for anybody else?
Let’s say, theoretically, WWE wants to bring up Lars Sullivan. Luke Harper can go back down to NXT and fill that void of the big monster.
Even ignoring that specific role to play, Luke Harper’s experience on the main roster could be very beneficial for the talent he’s working with, as he can push them in the right direction to know what to do in the ring for the main roster’s style as well as fill them in on a lot of the other day-to-day operations like the travel schedule and what it’s like working in a bigger locker room rather than having your stay-at-home core NXT family.
Who knows, maybe this allows him to be fully repackaged and start anew, so to speak, as Luke Harper again, with some new ring gear, a haircut, a shaved beard and all sorts of other changes—all of which could certainly be awful, but could be the things that save him from being “that guy who is either in The Wyatt Family or doing nothing” for the rest of his WWE career.
The way I look at it, Luke Harper is too good to just let fade into obscurity and it’s worth trying something out with him, no matter what it would be, and my least favorite option on this list is #1 or the jobbing part of #2.
Only time will tell what WWE does with Harper going forward, but for the next few months, it’s certainly not going to be teaming with Erick Rowan, and what to do with him is an entirely different story for another time.