March to WrestleMania 36: Exploring the Universal and WWE Championship Scenes

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Welcome to the first edition of this year’s March to WrestleMania 36, wherein my goal is to frame the scenery around all of the championships heading into the biggest show of the year.

This is three-fold: 1) a recap of how we got to the situation we’re currently in for those who haven’t been following the product as much lately but want to tune in for Mania, 2) a discussion on the possible plans for WrestleMania in the works as best as I can speculate, and 3) a look into the future of how things may go once WrestleMania has concluded.

To start things off, I figured it would be good to put the focus on the top two titles which we already know most of the information for, the WWE Championship and Universal Championship.

Note: Obviously, the coronavirus has left WrestleMania up in the air. This series assumes that it will still happen (as WWE continues to advertise it) and exists to bring casual viewers up to speed with information they’ve missed out on by not watching recent events.


Let’s start with what we already know…


THE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP

Who is the current champion?

Surprisingly enough, Bill Goldberg is the current title-holder after having defeated Bray Wyatt at Super ShowDown in Saudi Arabia.

Originally, it was advertised in some markets that The Fiend would face Kane in an inferno match. Out of nowhere, Goldberg came into the mix and quickly became a hot topic for how he could win the title.


Despite Wyatt being built up for several months, plans changed and WWE opted to go with Goldberg as the champion heading into the biggest show of the year, with Wyatt getting a consolation prize of facing John Cena, instead.


Who will challenge for the title at WrestleMania?

Again, there was a different plan for what WWE would do to determine the No. 1 contender. Elimination Chamber had advertised a match featuring several SmackDown stars. Then, Sheamus flat out put his name in the hat on an episode by saying he would enter the match.

Then, Roman Reigns simply walked up to Goldberg, said “I’m next” and the match was official.

Some hate that passionately. Others think it isn’t a big deal.

What happens at and after WrestleMania?

Under every circumstance, with or without WrestleMania going on as scheduled, Reigns wins the title, 100%. There is no way Goldberg retains this, as he has even indicated he was training to do Super ShowDown and could tough out the remaining couple of weeks before WrestleMania.

He isn’t built to last, nor interested in having a long reign. He’s there to pop in and then leave. The whole “spear vs. spear” thing is to put Reigns over and once again crown him the guy.


After that, I think it’s pretty obvious Wyatt fights Reigns and WWE gets to that program that they would have originally done without Cena and Goldberg involved, just with the script flipped. Reigns will retain the title then and go on to hold it until at least SummerSlam or so, I’d assume, if not WrestleMania next year.

THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP

Who is the current champion?

Brock Lesnar won the title on the debut of SmackDown on Fox by decimating Kofi Kingston in seconds. WWE then switched him from the blue brand to Raw.


Since then, he defended the title against 3 people. He destroyed Cain Velasquez at Crown Jewel, put Rey Mysterio back in his place at Survivor Series and completely squashed Ricochet at Super ShowDown.

Lesnar also entered the Royal Rumble at #1 and eliminated half the field until Drew McIntyre came in and took him out.

Who will challenge for the title at WrestleMania?

McIntyre went on to win that Royal Rumble and earn the right to challenge Lesnar. To be honest, there isn’t much to talk about beyond that point. Everything since then has just been Paul Heyman speaking about how Lesnar will retain the title, while McIntyre says he’ll beat him.


What happens at and after WrestleMania?

It sounds strange to say, but it’s not a certainty WWE makes the right call and puts the title on McIntyre. There’s a very good chance they have second thoughts, as they’ve had before, and once again decide that a match with Lesnar is good enough without winning the title.

I do still think McIntyre will become the champion, though. While WWE frequently proves itself thickheaded, you have to hold out hope they don’t make this mistake again. Not putting the title on McIntyre will kill his potential for the future and nothing will be gained.

I say they put the belt on him and try to carry onward, but they run into a situation where people were more invested in the chase than the reign. Two months into McIntyre’s run, he’ll fizzle out and by SummerSlam, people will be clamoring for a new champion. I hope I’m wrong about that, though.

Keep the discussion going by leaving your comments below and telling us what you think about this title situation for WrestleMania 36!

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