WWE TLC 2017: Kurt Angle, AJ Styles replace ill Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt
A viral infection has afflicted the WWE locker room ahead of Sunday's pay-per-view
A set of real-life health concerns has created a major swerve to Sunday's WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view from the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Raw-exclusive pay-per-view saw a shakeup to the top of the card Friday when WWE announced that both Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt have been pulled from the show due to medical issues.
"We have confirmed that three of our performers have been diagnosed with a viral infection. As a precautionary measure, we are ensuring in-ring performers and staff are tested and immunized in accordance with recommended medical guidelines," WWE told CBS Sports in a statement.
Bo Dallas, the real-life brother of Wyatt who has been mysteriously off of WWE television for two weeks, is reportedly the third performer in question.
Reigns was scheduled to join reunited Shield members Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins in a 5-on-3 TLC main event match against The Miz, Sheamus & Cesaro, Braun Strowman and Kane. The biggest news to come from this is that Reigns will be replaced not by another active performer but rather by Raw general manager Kurt Angle, who hasn't competed in a WWE ring since 2006.
Angle, 48, returned the company earlier this year ahead of his Hall of Fame induction on WrestleMania 33 weekend in April. The 1996 U.S. Olympic gold medalist has spoken publicly for months of his hopes to be cleared by WWE for a return to the ring and now it appears he has been rushed into action to save the card. WWE could have gone with one of its current performers -- such as Angle's storyline son Jason Jordan or Matt Hardy -- as a replacement for Reigns but instead chose Angle to compete on sudden notice Sunday.
In addition to Angle's comeback to the squared circle, SmackDown superstar AJ Styles will join the card to replace Wyatt in his singles match against Finn Balor. The pairing of Styles and Balor is a dream match for many wrestling fans who have followed their careers on the independent scene to WWE. Both wrestlers are former leaders of the Bullet Club in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, with Styles replacing Balor in April 2014, one day after Balor left to join NXT after signing with WWE.
Balor (as The Demon) was originally scheduled to face Wyatt (as Sister Abigail) in a match that may have been a culmination of a months-long feud that had taken some strange turns and reached supernatural levels of weird.
One can only assume from this announcement that Angle's return had been in the works and likely planned for the buildup to WrestleMania 34 in 2018. His last-minute return is in many ways a double-edged sword for fans in that it provides increased intrigue this weekend but doesn't have the expected build and fanfare WWE would've preferred for such a momentous occasion.
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