The Royal Rumble is still well over a month away, but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from constantly bringing up the topic of whether or not Brock Lesnar will make an appearance, and if so, what he’ll be doing.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard everything spit out as a fact from “the title won’t be on the line, but he’ll have a match” to “he won’t show up at all” and a bevy of ideas suggested as the game plan going forward.
I can’t help but feel like there may not be a true plan right now, and WWE’s creative team could still be trying to sort out what the best course of action (in their mind) would be—but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t options available.
In fact, the way I see it, there are 5 different ways this can go down without particularly ruining any future plans, corrupting any characters on the Road to WrestleMania 34, or retreading on familiar ground (ie, Lesnar vs. Cena) while WWE still gets to the same end result of Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns that you’re all sick and tired of hearing me talk about.
With all that being said, these are, in my mind, the 5 best options for Lesnar at the 2018 Royal Rumble event.
1. Finn Balor
This is the one that has the most speculation, but also seems to be the most shot down idea, so we need to talk about that before anything else.
I might be in the minority, but I wasn’t familiar with Finn Balor when he first came into WWE and during the first few matches he had in NXT, I wasn’t particularly impressed.
Eventually, I warmed up enough to him that I saw him as a top guy for the future, but as time has gone on, I’ve circled back around to finding him underwhelming.
For me to put enough stock in him to put him on a mantle of being a top guy on Raw or SmackDown, he’s going to have to show me more personality than he’s ever done, as the Demon King makeup alone doesn’t outdo his shortcomings.
With the way he’s been booked since his return from injury, Balor hasn’t been consistently treated like a Universal Championship contender, and what makes me concerned about this potential match is that the size disparity coupled with that credibility downward slope would not do him any favors.
This would be more one-sided than the AJ Styles affair at Survivor Series, which turned out much better than I had anticipated. In Balor vs. Lesnar, it should be The Beast Incarnate steamrolling him.
But is that necessarily a bad thing?
Don’t get me wrong—just because I think Balor can be overrated doesn’t mean I’d particularly book him in a match to get destroyed out of the thrill of it. I have no ill-will to the guy and I actually want to see him hold the Intercontinental Championship very soon. But that IC title isn’t the Universal title, is it?
Balor, from my point of view, needs to work his way back up, rather than just be slotted into the top position based on the technicality of being the first-ever universal champion for 20-some hours.
I would actually be quite interested to see a story where everybody knows he stands no chance against Lesnar and we don’t once see him get the upper hand on any episode of Raw leading up to their match, where, as expected, he would get his ass kicked.
That would be realistic, it would give Lesnar something to do, the fans a match they haven’t seen yet, and it would give Balor a reason to show a little bit more character other than just saying he has a lot of heart and determination and will get back up when knocked down.
I’d love to see him come out of it with a bit of a shaken up motivation where he realizes that the climb back to the top is going to be much harder than he anticipated and he might not have what it takes, so he has to challenge himself over the next few months to get back into the limelight.
That, in my mind, sets Balor up for a more triumphant return to the main event in the later part of 2018 where by the 2019 Royal Rumble, he could be one of the favorites to win, and it would all start with a humbling (but not humiliating) loss against Lesnar here.
2. Jason Jordan
My second favorite option is to just turn into the skid and book Jason Jordan in a title match, infuriating the crowd to no end and pushing Jordan one step closer to a heel turn.
The Kurt Angle’s son story might have been a vessel for Jordan to get a big babyface push, but with the way the audiences have been treating him the past few months, that ship has sailed.
It’s a shame, to an extent, as he’s talented and I would have liked it if he had succeeded, but having him be a heel out of the situation can end up being far better.
We keep seeing Jordan asking Angle for opportunities left and right and mostly getting them handed to him, even though he ultimately loses whatever match he begged for.
All it would take is one segment where Jordan calls out Lesnar and tries to make a case for how he can win the Universal Championship to avenge Angle’s loss to Lesnar at WrestleMania XIX and the audience would groan so, so loudly.
Then, for Angle to grant him that title shot would be a breeding ground for the WWE Universe to really get bugged by Jordan, who, of course, would lose that match against Lesnar.
Unlike Balor, I’d prefer to see Jordan actually get some licks in, much like he did against Roman Reigns. That way, the crowd would start getting worried that they might put the belt on him.
Alas, he’d come up short. Lesnar would look just as good as he always does, if not better, and Jordan would have another reason to complain later in the night, saying the Royal Rumble would be his way to earn a rematch against Lesnar at WrestleMania.
Then, he’d lose that, too, and it might be the thing that pushes him over the edge into the full-on heel turn.
To the best of my recollection, we haven’t seen Kane and Lesnar lock up during these past few years. By all means, we might have, but it completely escapes my memory if that’s the case.