The plan to crown Roman Reigns as the Universal Heavyweight Champion may have taken a detour from the original plan at WrestleMania 34 last week but that does not mean the “Big Dog” won’t have the title around his waist in the near future. If you look into the crystal ball of WWE’s master plan, it’s possible the decision to leave the belt on Lesnar for a few more weeks may be to have Reigns, a three-time WWE world champion, grab the belt from the current champion at The Greatest Battle Royal, an event set to take place in Saudi Arabia later this month.
As Mike Mooneyham of the Charleston Post and Courier wrote this week, having Reigns win anywhere other than New Orleans may provide a less hostile environment to make the transition. It may also open the door for other wrestlers to get a crack at “The Beast Incarnate.”
“Reigns surprisingly suffered a brutal defeat at the hands of Lesnar, leaving a crowd of more than 70,000 at the Superdome stunned and confused,” writes Mooneyham. “After all, this was supposed to be the night Reigns finally got the prize that had eluded him for years. It was a plan that many fans had vehemently railed against.”
The fans weren’t all that excited over what they saw between the two heavyweights to close out the pay-per-view, either.
The original plan at WrestleMania, according to multiple sources was for Lesnar to drop the title to Reigns in New Orleans and for him to walk away from professional wrestling and rejoin Dana White and UFC. The day of the biggest event on WWE’s dance card, Lesnar signed a new deal with Vince McMahon and the outcome of the evening was altered. It was reported that Reigns walked in the Mercedes Benz Superdome thinking he would be crowned champion once again.
“According to Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer, Reigns was told of the change in plans the day of WrestleMania, with even the referee unaware of the finish before stepping into the ring,” Mooneyham wrote.
“McMahon’s new strategy became obvious to the public the next day when it was announced that Lesnar, who had been expected to pack his bags and return to UFC, instead signed a new contract with WWE, a move that sent the rumor mill into overdrive.”
Now, there is a new game plan, one that allegedly links Lesnar to Bobby Lashley at SummerSlam. But Mooneyham and myself, believe WWE may have other cards to play before the big summer event.
“McMahon had ordered a hard press in the months leading up to Wrestlemania in hopes of swaying the anti-Reigns faction, painting him as the challenger against all odds. Feeling manipulated, the detractors only grew in size,” Mooneyham added.
The WWE owner’s worst fears were realized when the New Orleans throng turned on the main event of Wrestlemania with chants of “Boring,” “This is awful” and even “CM Punk.” The crowd’s adverse reaction, however, was based more on their expectation of Reigns winning the title than the quality of the brutally physical match.
It was the same kind of reaction the fans gave Lesnar when he battled Randy Orton and cut the 13-time champion open at SummerSlam in 2016. Orton’s cut required 10 staples to close the wound.
Now, WWE has a dilemma. Lesnar is here for the apparent long haul and can fight in UFC as well, which may not go over well with WWE’s fan base. Reigns is a soon-to-be champion whom is loved by some and hated by most. There is a Superstar Shakeup this coming week that could stir the pot even more in terms of performers getting a shot at the Universal Title.
And let’s not forget, there is this guy named Braun Strowman who was destined to be a world champion. It’s a tangled web woven by WWE’s master storyteller, McMahon. This story, however, could another nightmare created by the vacuum the company lives in because Reigns is still considered the heir apparent to John Cena – a position many fans still feel is the wrong move and have grown tired of Reigns’ run toward the mountain top of WWE’s creative machine.