Reading wrestling rumors on the internet is always an interesting thing. Sometimes, the rumors end up being spot on, and other times, they don't contain a single shred of fact.
Recently, I came across a rumor that struck me as interesting. It said that Brock Lesnar may not be defending his Universal Title at the Royal Rumble event because the company doesn't believe anyone is a "suitable" opponent for him.
Now, obviously, I'm not here to say whether or not the rumor is true. However, what I will say is that the rumor sure seems like it could be true, doesn't it? Brock is someone that is usually "protected" by WWE booking, outside of his feud with Goldberg last year. He is presented as someone that is bigger and badder than anyone else on the WWE roster, because... well... he damn near is bigger and badder than anyone else on the WWE roster. On top of all that, the people who are in charge of making Lesnar look as strong as possible are also failing on a weekly basis to make 99% of their roster stand out in any way, shape, or form. That's a terrible combination.
The Royal Rumble is one of WWE's biggest annual events. The Universal Title is the most prized belt (sorry, Vince) in the business, as WWE would like you to believe. Now, because of the WWE "creative" team painting themselves into a corner, the Rumble may not feature a Universal Title match. Does that make any sense to you?
It's not like there isn't a plethora of opponents Brock could have good matches with. There's even a handful of opponents that Brock could have great matches with. There are even people on the "good" and "great" lists that Brock has never faced before, which should help to make a match even bigger, but nooooo... nobody is "suitable" unless they're pushing 50 years old and/or haven't been in a WWE ring in close to a decade, apparently.
WWE has screwed things up royally with Lesnar in the last couple years. They've spent too much time and effort into promoting him, and it has come at the expense of others who are around on a weekly basis. Remember when we first heard that Samoa Joe would be challenging Brock? Nobody gave Joe a chance... but then the build for the match happened. It made Joe look like a million bucks. It made Joe look like he was going to be the next big thing (pun intended).
What happened? Brock won. One F-5 scored the pin. Well, at least his finishing move was protected, I guess.
Then, we moved on to SummerSlam, where Lesnar would be defending the title against Joe, Braun Strowman, and Roman Reigns in a Fatal Four Way. Everyone and their mother was sure this would be where Brock lost the title, simply because the match stipulation allowed for him to lose the match without being involved in the fall. Even the "Brock and Heyman leave WWE if Brock loses" stip that was added didn't change many opinions, as people felt he would leave for a few months, then be brought back as a "free agent signing" on the road to WrestleMania. Both Joe and Strowman were on fire, and Roman Reigns is always treated as Samoan Jesus by the company, so there was no shortage of suspects on who the new champion would be.
What happened? Brock won. Again.
Next, it was time for No Mercy and a one-on-one with Strowman. Surely, WWE wouldn't cut Braun's momentum off at the knees, would they? You severely underestimate the stupidity of the people in charge, kind reader... and don't call me Shirley.
What happened? Brock won. Again. Another match where all it took was one F-5 to end things.
We had seen rumors that Finn Balor was possibly next in line for a title shot, albeit one he would lose. Then, as wrestling rumors often tend to do, things got switched up, and it went from "Finn gets the next title shot" to "Finn isn't over enough for a title shot". By now, you've probably seen Balor's thoughts on the matter via his Twitter account. That leads us to the here and now, with no "suitable" opponent for Lesnar.
If you browse the Raw roster, you see a bunch of "obvious" title shot recipients. The aforementioned Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman are always going to be around, but how do you sell them now, after putting in so much effort to make them challengers, only to have them lose? Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are more focused on the Tag Team Titles right now, but they're still two of the top names in the company... and they've also been conquered by "The Conqueror" in the past.
If you take out the names who would give him good matches, or who are riding a wave of momentum, or who are injured, but aren't portrayed as top names (Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, The Miz, Jeff Hardy, Finn Balor, Jason Jordan), that leaves just one name... Roman Reigns.
Did you feel that? The vomit almost came all the way up, didn't it?
It's been crystal clear that someone (*cough* VINCE MCMAHON *cough*) wants Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns to headline WrestleMania 34. They only have one singles match against each other, but of course, that didn't end as a one-on-one match, since Seth Rollins cashed in his Money In The Bank briefcase at WrestleMania 31. With this year's Money In The Bank shot already cashed in, Vince can finally have his personal wet dream come true. Even worse, you can already see the outcome from a mile away, with Reigns winning and the "torch" being passed to him for the years to come, as Lesnar begins to transition out of the sport.
Do we really need that match, though? I have no doubt that it would be an entertaining brawl, just as it was in Santa Clara. I merely have doubts as to whether or not Reigns "deserves" this. He has been pushed and pushed and pushed, and the fans have continued to rebel against him. We've already seen a couple attempts at someone "passing the torch" to Reigns in the past, first with The Rock at the 2015 Royal Rumble and then with John Cena at No Mercy a couple months ago. Both of those moments were met with the live crowd pinching a steamy loaf all over what was happening. You're crazy if you don't think it'll happen with even more vociferousness should WrestleMania 34 come to an end with Reigns standing tall as the new Universal Champion, followed by the Raw crowd the next night giving him a reaction that would make a public execution look like cuddling with puppies.
It simply amazes me that WWE has put themselves in this situation. To put all of their eggs in one basket, only to turn around and wonder why there aren't any eggs anywhere else, is incredible. One can only hope Vince McMahon comes to his senses between now and WrestleMania, let alone between now and the Royal Rumble, but we all know the odds of that happening.
If you were in charge of things, who would you give the Universal Title shot to at the Rumble? Would you give it to one of the "usual suspects"? Maybe you'd go back to what WWE used to like doing at the Rumble, and give title shots to new names (Sgt. Slaughter in 1991, Razor Ramon in 1993, Chris Benoit in 2003, Hardcore Holly in 2004, Mark Henry in 2006, Test in 2007, Mr. Kennedy in 2007, Umaga in 2007, Jeff Hardy in 2008, Dolph Ziggler in 2011, Seth Rollins in 2015, etc)?