If Cody Rhodes is unable to compete at Survivor Series, which Superstar could join Team Ziggler?

If Rhodes is out, who is in?

On WWE Main Event, Cody Rhodes suffered a concussion and a strained shoulder after a hard fall. The WWE Universe has been buzzing about how these injuries might affect Rhodes’ status for Friday’s SmackDown and Sunday’s Survivor Series. ( INJURY UPDATE) In the event the Team Rhodes Scholars member is somehow unable to compete Sunday, what could that mean for the other four members of Team Ziggler — Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio, Wade Barrett and Damien Sandow — when they battle Team Foley in a Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match? ( MATCH PREVIEW)

The loss of the former Intercontinental Champion would definitely hurt Team Ziggler. If anyone can tough it out, however, it would be Rhodes. This, after all, is a Superstar who competed for months with a protective mask covering his hideous and painful facial injuries, a Superstar who for years now has battled the biggest and best WWE has to offer. Though often outspoken, no one can dispute Rhodes’ toughness, gameness or ability to recover.

If it turns out he is indeed not cleared or able to compete, though, several Superstars would bring something unique to The Showoff’s Survivor Series tag team. WWE.com has five possible replacements who could help carry Team Ziggler to victory this Sunday.

Ricardo Rodriguez

Ricardo Rodriguez must compete with Alberto Del Rio & David Otunga against three of WWE's best.

Since Alberto Del Rio is already part of Team Ziggler, his personal ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez could make a viable candidate to replace Cody Rhodes at WWE’s November classic.

Although he’s known primarily for his exaggerated and energetic ring introductions of The Mexican Aristocrat, Rodriguez has proven he’s not hesitant to get in on the action whenever he feels like it. In addition to sometimes competing alongside Del Rio in tag team matches, the tuxedoed mic man is a veteran of the 2012 Royal Rumble, and he took arguably the biggest fall of 2011 at WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs last year.

Rodriguez might not fully replace Rhodes’ experience, athleticism and ruthless ambition, but the personal ring announcer has repeatedly thrown his body on the line, whether it’s interfering in one of Del Rio’s matches to protect his employer or getting involved in an underhanded attack. If Rhodes were unable to compete Sunday, Ricardo Rodriguez may have to exchange his tuxedo for his trunks.

David Otunga

Santino Marella goes one-on-one with David Otunga on WWE Main Event.

The coffee-chugging David Otunga could give Team Ziggler a burst of energy like a double shot of espresso.

The Harvard-educated attorney may excel at litigating in the courtroom and flexing in the gym mirror, but he shines in the squared circle, too. As the runner-up on the first season of NXT, a two-time WWE Tag Team Champion and the captain of the victorious Team Johnny at WrestleMania XXVIII, Otunga would bring credentials and experience to Team Ziggler that few Superstars on the WWE roster could equal.

In addition to overall ring skill, Otunga also already has familiarity with most of the members of Team Ziggler. The muscle-bound attorney has partnered with Del Rio, Ziggler and Barrett in the past. Not only that, but Otunga also has scores to settle with most of the members of Team Foley, including most recently, the powerhouse Ryback.

As an established Superstar with experience working beside his possible teammates, Otunga’s addition to Team Ziggler seems purely academic.

Tensai

R-Truth goes one-on-one with Tensai while United States Champion Antonio Cesaro observes from the commentary table.

As one of the most immense, most powerful Superstars in WWE, the fearsome Tensai would certainly be a welcome addition for Team Ziggler.

Since Team Foley has the 7-footer Kane, Team Ziggler could certainly use a giant of its own. Wade Barrett, Alberto Del Rio and company may be large and in-charge, but sometimes you just can’t replicate what a monstrous force can bring to the squared circle. Along with Barrett, Tensai could act as the “enforcer” for Team Ziggler, giving Team Foley a distinct size disadvantage.

If Tensai made his massive presence felt at Survivor Series, the Japanese import could prove to be the deciding factor that swings the match in Team Ziggler’s favor. When Tensai’s involved, one thing is certain: There will be destruction.

Michael McGillicutty

Brodus Clay goes one-on-one with Michael McGillicutty on WWE Superstars.

With Cody Rhodes possibly being removed from Team Ziggler due to his injuries, the window of opportunity could be opened for some Superstars who might not otherwise get such a chance. Much like Tyson Kidd found himself a surprising entrant in this year’s World Heavyweight Championship Contract Money in the Bank Ladder Match, Michael McGillicutty could be an unforeseen substitute on Dolph Ziggler’s Survivor Series tag team.

It would be a huge opportunity for the third-generation competitor. Since coming in second place on the second season of NXT, joining The Nexus and winning the WWE Tag Team Championships with David Otunga, the son of WWE Hall of Famer Mr. Perfect has found success in WWE harder to come by.

With an imposing presence, advanced in-ring skills and a prestigious lineage, McGillicutty could take a major step in his career by helping Team Ziggler to an enormous Survivor Series victory over Team Foley.

Matt Striker

WWE Tag Team Champion Kane faces WWE announcer Matt Striker in a match on Raw.

At a glance, Matt Striker might appear to be a surprising and unlikely addition to Team Ziggler. But WWE’s backstage interviewer has had recent run-ins with Team Hell No, which could give him the motivation he needs to seek a spot on Ziggler’s Survivor Series squad.

On the Oct. 12 episode of SmackDown, Striker tried to interview Team Hell No after Kane battled Ziggler, but his challenging line of questioning led to him being put in the “No!” Lock by Daniel Bryan and then viciously Chokeslammed by Kane. An official match against Kane on the Oct. 15 episode of Raw ended in similarly unpleasant way for Striker.

Could Striker join Team Ziggler to seek a chance at redemption and revenge? Facing Kane and Bryan by himself has gone horribly wrong, but maybe as part of a five-man Survivor Series team, Matt Striker could conquer his demons. The Devil’s Favorite Demon, that is.

While it remains to be seen what happens with Cody Rhodes, any or all of these five Superstars could step in as a replacement on Team Ziggler, steal the spotlight on one of WWE’s biggest stages and help defeat Team Foley. Who do you think is most likely to replace Rhodes if he needs a substitute? ( VOTE) Stay tuned to WWE.com for ongoing updates on Rhodes’ status and tune in Sunday to see what happens when Team Ziggler battles Team Foley at WWE’s fall classic. (HOW TO WATCH)

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