What’s in the box? Ask Pandora, Brad Pitt, and J.J. Abrams for an answer and they’ll tell you—it’s never anything good.
Since November 2019, Raw viewers have been teased with a What’s In The Box story. It all began when Erick Rowan—wrestler, winemaker, swole Nick Frost body double—started bringing a covered cage to his fights. Aside from backstage comments about the cage being “someone” he “loves,” Rowan offered no explanation for what’s inside the cage. The plot thickened when the never-ending series of jobbers he fought collectively decided that stealing his cage was a good idea, causing them all to get mauled in spectacular fashion by either Rowan or whatever’s inside his cage. It’s almost like the cage has some strange animal magnetism that compels Rowan to guard it and lures these jobbers to their doom.
We’re in January 2020 and the cage is STILL a mystery. In the spirit of inquiry, I’ve put together a list of likely solutions (ranked on a scale of 1-10 from least to most plausible) to the mystery of what’s inside Erick Rowan’s cage.
A Hypnotic Snake
It fits everything we’ve seen so far: Snakes can be silent, deadly, and (according to cartoons) can mesmerize with their pitiless black doll eyes. Rowan fell under the spell of this snake months ago, bringing it to the ring as a good luck charm like its his version of Kevin Garnett’s magic black opal. He guards his lucky snake magic with a vengeance lest it should fall into the hands of an undeserving jobber or a fellow reptile like Randy Orton.
Rationale: It’s an obvious choice, and a boring one. It’s probably going to be a snake.
A Bobcat Or An Ocelot Or Some Kind of Lynx
There’s no way any kind of canine could be in that cage—they would be barking up a storm nonstop. Some kind of medium-sized cat, though, could be in that cage.
Rationale: Considering all the pussy jokes this would tee-up for Lawler, it’s almost a foregone-conclusion that there’s a cat in there.
We’re long-overdue for a Hornswoggle cameo. Now that The Fiend has taken up residence in the Under-Realm beneath the ring, Hornswoggle has to find new digs to stay in. Luckily for him Rowan has a nice AirBnb cage for rent.
Rationale: Hornswoggle being inside the cage would be dumb as hell, which would be par for the course for the company that brought us Shorty G and the never-ending Lana/Lashley/Rusev soap opera.
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Lord Wolfgang Hardy
There are a lot of Hardys running around. It’s not hard to believe that Rowan may have been able to snatch one up when no one was looking. Factor in Rowan’s long history with Bray Wyatt and Wyatt’s own contentious history with Lord Wolfgang’s father Matt, it looks like we may have some sort of Theon Greyjoy type situation. The Wyatt Family/Funhouse holds the youngest Hardy as their ward to keep Matt and Jeff from getting all mixed up in their business.
Rationale: Child slavery is a hard-sell, as gimmicks go. Then again, this would give Matt and Jeff something new to work with. The Hardy Boyz can only eat so many squashes and DUIs before they’re treading water on the Lake of Reincarnation.
Mae Young’s Hand Son
We all remember that blessed moment in 2000 when 77-year old legend Mae Young gave birth to a hand. A sentient hand could quite easily fit inside Rowan’s cage. While Mae Young’s hand-son did appear as a full-grown adult on an episode of RAW, we don’t know how the life cycle of a severed hand works. Maybe it’s some sort of Benjamin Button situation and the Young hand has shrunk back down to a respectable hand-turkey drawing size.
Rationale: The only thing the WWE hates more than tag team wrestling is continuity.
Shane McMahon, trapped in the body of a ferret
If you’re wondering where Vince McMahon’s big, beet-red son has been all this time, look inside Rowan’s cage. Fed-up with the shame and dishonor that Shane’s baby punches and negative charisma has brought upon House McMahon, Vince undertook a perilous journey to Parts Unknown to convince The Boogeyman to “do some Peter Pettigrew shit” on his terrible son. Using the power of Racist Wrestling Voodoo, the strongest magick known to mankind, The Boogeyman transformed Shane McMahon into a ferret. To keep Shane-ferret from jumping off the top of a production catwalk or Braun Strowman’s receding hairline, the McMahons sealed Shane inside a cage and entrusted Rowan with taking care of it.
Rationale: It’s perfectly believable that Vince would hate his son so much that he would go to such extreme lengths, but c’mon—if The Boogeyman could polymorph dudes at will, he’d have won a lot more belts.
An Intellect Devourer
WWE isn’t a company to shy away from cross-promotional efforts, so there’s a strong possibility that the Rowan’s Cage Saga could be a D&D tie-in. Considering the dimensions of the cage, it could easily house 1-2 Intellect Devourers. Tiny little walking brains with clawed legs, Intellect Devourers have a brutally effective Devour Intellect power that lets them render characters with low intelligence scores brain-dead. WWE jobbers tend to dump what few build points they have in Strength and Dexterity, making them easy prey for the Intellect Devourer’s psychic attacks. The repetitious nature of these segments could also indicate that the Intellect Devourer has already wrecked havoc in the writer’s room, making short work of another group of WWE employees who also use Int as their dump stat.
Rationale: WWE loves money but D&D is nerd shit and there’s no way Vince would do anything to make nerds happy.
A Saudi Political Prisoner
As part of WWE’s multi-year blood money deal with the Saudi royal family, the promotion must hold at least one of Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s political prisoners hostage at ringside during all RAW live tapings.
Rationale: In for a penny, in for a pound. After you say yes to a regime like the Saudis, what will you say no to?
If the 24/7 Championship has taught us anything it’s that R-Truth is a master at the art of camouflage. He is wrestling’s Solid Snake, and the entire world is his cardboard box. We’ve already seen from Truth’s merciless dismantling of Drake Maverick’s marriage that the man is willing to put the work into doing long cons to score his beloved belt—Truth’s devotion to the 24/7 belt is second only to Tommaso Ciampa’s lust for Goldie. It’s entirely believable that he’d be willing to contort himself to fit inside that cage, just to give him the element of surprise in a future 24/7 title challenge.
Rationale: The big question here, if this pans out, is whether or not Rowan is in on it. Did they make some kind of deal? Or is Truth pretending to be Rowan’s pet and has him completely fooled? Is this setting up a future 24/7 gimmick where Truth pretends to be other wrestlers’ pets so he can get the drop on them?
There’s nothing in the cage. Absolutely nothing. It will never be explained. You and I, dear reader, have expended more energy pondering solutions vis-a-vis the cage than the people who are paid to do so.