Well, he did it. During one of the strangest men’s Elimination Chamber matches I’ve ever seen, Brock Lesnar claimed victory in pretty dominating fashion. The Beast’s upcoming WrestleMania 38 match with Roman Reigns will now be title for title, which means there are two gigantic decisions Vince McMahon and company will need to make. First, WWE obviously needs to figure out who is going to win the actual match, which is complicated for reasons we’ll get into later. Second, the company is going to need to decide what to do about the belts. Let’s talk this out.
Before we start though, a quick recap in case you missed out on Elimination Chamber. The main topic of conversation, at least on the men’s side, heading into the Chamber was whether Bobby Lashley would retain his title or whether Brock Lesnar was going to be built up even further ahead of his match with Roman Reigns. Well, we got our answer almost immediately when Austin Theory was thrown through Lashley’s unopened pod, causing him to get injured before his portion of the match started. Lashley was removed from the ring and Michael Cole later told us he wouldn’t return because he was in concussion protocol. It turns out he apparently has a real life shoulder injury that will require surgery, which likely explains why he hasn't been building anything toward 'Mania.
Should Roman Reigns Or Brock Lesnar Win At WrestleMania?
So, it seems like the decision of whether to keep building up Bobby Lashley was made for WWE. He’ll probably miss WrestleMania and be out for months, which means having Lesnar win the Elimination Chamber was the clear and obvious decision given the other storylines going on. I’m on board with all of this so far, but now, WWE needs to decide whether to bet big on Lesnar long-term or have him be the latest in a long series of foes to acknowledge Roman Reigns, who has now held the Universal Title since August of 2020.
Reigns is, in my opinion, the single best thing going in wrestling right now. His character is terrific. He’s really good in the ring. He has a nice stable of personalities around him including the always delightful Paul Heyman and the villainous tag team champions The Usos. I would be perfectly happy to let him continue his run for another year and a half, but there’s a reason why this is the longest major title reign in the WWE in 35 years. McMahon and company like to change things up and move in different directions. The WWE title changed hands 11 times (!!) in 1999, as a particularly obnoxious example. At some point, they’re going to have Roman drop the belt.
And who better to drop the belt to than Brock Lesnar? WWE typically books Lesnar to look really strong. That should be pretty obvious given his title runs and multiple Royal Rumble wins, but it’s been over more true lately. He not only won the Rumble last month, he did so in pretty dominating fashion, almost as dominating as his win yesterday at The Elimination Chamber. I mean, say what you will about Austin Theory who I actually quite like, but Riddle, Seth Rollins and AJ Styles are legitimate WWE superstars who pick up big wins on a regular basis. The company is typically invested in them looking strong, and he went through them like it was nothing.
If you’re going to have Roman drop the belt to someone, you’d ideally like it to be someone who will keep him looking strong. A loss to Brock Lesnar doesn’t tarnish in the same way as a loss to The Honky Tonk Man. And if it’s not going to be Lesnar, I mean who is it going to be? Seth Rollins maybe? They could pick up their feud again after ‘Mania. I guess you could do Cody Rhodes or further build up someone like Riddle, but in my opinion, any of these options are going to take time. So, if you’re going to stick with Roman, you’re likely sticking wit him for several more months at minimum. Once again, I’m fine with this. I would love to see Roman pin Brock clean and add another huge win to this tremendous run he’s on, but if he’s going to lose anytime soon, Lesnar is the right option – at least if scheduling wasn’t an issue.
To add one more complicated variable to this equation: I’m not entirely sure what The Beast's schedule is going to look like moving forward. He’s been making pretty regular appearances on WWE TV, which is great, but he’s not someone who is typically known as a week-to-week grinder. I don’t expect him to be doing house shows in Springfield, Illinois. So, having him hold both Raw and Smackdown’s titles at the same time doesn’t necessarily seem like a good decision on a practical level. And there’s a strong chance he’s going to leave again at some point. He’s been built enough to credibly end Reigns’ strike, but he doesn’t need that win to elevate his status, whereas that win could transform someone else’s career.
What Will WWE Do With The Belts After The Match?
All of the Roman vs Lesnar stuff is fun to think about. I'm really excited for the match and so is my co-worker who gushed about it here There are a lot of ins and outs and complexities. I’m honestly not sure what WWE is going to decide to do there, but that’s all within the bounds of typical storytelling. What to do about both of the belts, however, is another matter entirely. Unless there’s some kind of curveball or weird match stipulation, someone is going to leave WrestleMania 38 with the two biggest belts in WWE. That means WWE is going to need to decide whether to merge the two belts into one single unified championship, keep them split and have the winner defend the belts separately on both Smackdown and Raw or have the winner keep one of the titles and forfeit the other.
My mind is going crazy just thinking about all these possibilities. It looks like a Kane-style entrance explosion in there right now. There are just so many different paths to take here. I’m not going to talk all of them out here because you probably have a real life with real things to do and aren’t interested in 18,000 word WWE ramblings, but I will explore a few if you don’t mind.
I absolutely love the idea of Roman Reigns appearing on both Raw and Smackdown to defend those titles separately on each show. If he did that, even over the period of just a few months, it would cement this current year and a half run as among the most dominant in recent history alongside Goldberg’s undefeated WCW streak and Hulk Hogan’s four year plus run at the top of the card in the late 80s. This might be too much of a burden for one person to carry, but if anyone can do it right now it’s Roman.
That being said, the idea of unifying the titles is an interesting creative wrinkle. Randy Orton previously unified the WWE Title and the Heavyweight Title back in 2013. The Heavyweight Title was promptly decommissioned and for three years or so, the WWE just ran with one title until the Universal Championship was introduced following the brand split. That’s, in some ways, appealing because it allows the company to have one clear person at the top of the card. It would be fitting, especially for Roman to have that honor. That being said, the whole point of having more belts is so more people can fight matches with clear stakes. Eliminating one of the top two belts means there are going to be less title matches at each premium live event. I would be fine with that, but I’m not sure WWE will be.
What Do I Think Is Going To Happen?
I don’t know. I’m struggling to see into the future and figure out where WWE is going. I’d like to think they are going to acknowledge Roman Reigns and his current greatness by letting him stick at the apex of the card for longer. Lesnar is a star and an absolute force of nature, but he’s more of a one speed kind of guy. Roman can believably work with a lot more people, and he can wrestle matches in more styles. He’s also likely to be around a lot longer. Given all that, I think the Tribal Chief is going to beat Lesnar at WrestleMania, though maybe with some interference or distractions that'll keep Brock looking strong.
Then, as much as I’d like to see Roman defend both of the belts separately on Raw and Smackdown (and maybe even a premium live event where he fights twice), I think WWE will vacate one of the titles and hold a WrestleMania IV-style tournament. They’ll probably piece if out on Raw over several weeks, with the finale at an upcoming weekend event, but I’d love to see them do it all in one night in an upcoming event. That would be so much fun and allow the company to go in some really interesting directions creatively.
Or maybe I'm 100% wrong about all of this. After all, I was pretty sure Lashley would win the Elimination Chamber, and he didn't even wrestle so don't listen to me.
Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.
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