WWE has decided to run back the main event of WrestleMania 38 at SummerSlam. To the surprise of many, Vince McMahon and company have chosen Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar to main event what’s arguably the company’s second biggest premium live event of the year. Fan reactions have been, from my perspective, a bit mixed with a lot of excitement over seeing Lesnar again to a lot of frustration over not giving each a new program. Former WCW headman Eric Bischoff is among those fans who weighed in, and his perspective is quite intesting to consider.
The longtime booker, who even ran Smackdown for awhile, was on the Strictly Business podcast, and he’s digging the Reigns/ Lesnar storyline and the quick build. He admitted it’s obviously a “plan B” but said there are risks that come with grabbing someone else off the roster and trying to get the program over in just five weeks. If it fails, it would be a huge long-term set back to someone else, especially if they were younger. Here’s a portion of his quote via Wrestling Inc…
I’d love to tell you he’s absolutely right or scream about how he’s absolutely wrong, but I honestly just don’t know. What the hell to do here is such a complicated problem. My guess is they were going to go to Riddle at Money In The Bank and Randy Orton at SummerSlam as like a little brother, big brother escalating stakes situation. The match at SummerSlam would have been so hot with the crowd, and while I think Roman would have kept the title, Orton could won and created a really memorable moment. That was a great plan, but injuries are injuries, and Orton’s injury poured cold water on that.
So, if you’re WWE here, what do you do? Your options are you grab someone from the current roster or you bring back Brock Lesnar (or Bray Wyatt!). Now, who are the realistic candidates on the current roster that could build a program in five weeks and you could at least squint at thinking maybe, maybe they could win? Drew McIntyre is off the table because he’s going to be the headline challenger at the UK-based event Clash At The Castle in September. Cody Rhodes is hurt. So, that leaves Riddle, Bobby Lashley, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, AJ Styles and Sheamus? Edge maybe?
I agree with Bischoff completely in the case of Riddle. Yes, I know they had a banger of a match on Smackdown, but that’s not the same thing as main eventing SummerSlam. How many promos would they have even been able to do together before a hypothetical SummerSlam match? I get there’s some built in history there from the Usos programs, but at no point in any of that did Riddle seem like a believable candidate to beat Roman Reigns. That’s why watching him perform better than expected but losing at Money In The Bank to set up Randy Orton would have been perfect. I think WWE was right to stay away from that program. Just as they’re right to stay away from Gunther, who needs time to keep building.
Seth Rollins is an unhinged madman in the best ways right now, but he just wrestled Roman Reigns at Royal Rumble. I love everything Kevin Owens is doing right now with Elias/ Ezekiel/ Elrod way too much to abandon that storyline. AJ Styles is an all-time great. I’d love to give him anther title run, but his character has way too many recent losses. I think the best option probably would have been Bobby Lashley, whose current program with Austin Theory feels like it’s missing the likes of Ravishing Rick Rude and Dino Bravo and is probably just a speedbump before Theory and John Cena at SummerSlam anyway. But would they really take the belt off Reigns and put it on Lashley right now? No way.
Someone needs to wrestle Roman Reigns, and WWE does not want SummerSlam to feel like a blow-off premium live event. Most of these options would have felt like blow-offs. Brock Lesnar makes it feel like a legitimate main event, even if it’s not the most exciting rematch. So, am I as fired up for this as I was for WrestleMania? No. Do I wish we were getting a different outcome? Yes. But to Eric Bischoff’s point, it makes a lot of sense for WWE to choose this path; so, I’m just going to take the F5 and enjoy the ride.
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