I’m of the camp that by having Brock Lesnar win the Universal Championship at Crown Jewel, Vince McMahon showed his cards that he has no faith in Braun Strowman or anybody else to take priority while Roman Reigns is gone, panicked, put the title on Lesnar, and has already—subconsciously or knowingly—started down a particular path toward WrestleMania 35.
The more I think about it and weigh things based on how the company has done business in the past few years, the clearer the picture gets, and it’s not something I’m looking forward to watching for the next five months or longer.
Frame of Reference Setup:
In the past few years in particular, WWE has had this mentality that former stars are always the focal point whenever possible, drag things out as long as they can, and the regular shows (be it Raw, SmackDown, etc or even the pay-per-views) don’t matter as much as the big ones do.
It’s more about having a big attraction for a Big 4 event, like Goldberg vs. Lesnar, than it is about utilizing the current roster in the best way to set up success for the future. Basically, look at it as resting on laurels, booking lots of repeat matches (Styles vs. Nakamura for months, then Styles vs. Joe for months) while telling everyone everything is great, hoping they buy into it, and once in a while, dangling something big in front of them to act like it’s a major deal and get them excited.
To Vince and likely others, the superfights are good enough hype to coast on for the rest of the year and we shouldn’t complain about other people being pushed aside, because shut up, you’re getting (insert old guy we love) and we should be happy, even if the end result sucks.
Keep all that in mind.
For the fourth time this year, sixth time if you include 2017’s festivities, Strowman was destroyed by Lesnar. Clearly, WWE doesn’t think he’s good enough to be the top guy, and that’s not going to change. Don’t be foolish and think he’s coming back to win the title at TLC or Royal Rumble. It’s not going to happen.
Instead, he’s going to feud with Baron Corbin out of vengeance (and isn’t that good enough, that he beat up Corbin? C’mon fans, he got his comeuppance! Yay!) and feud with Drew McIntyre over nothing, and then be saddled with Bobby Lashley at WrestleMania in a midcard match—or, at best, Strowman jobs out to Lesnar again at Mania.
Then again, based off how poorly he was used last year, Strowman could just as easily be in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal or something just as inconsequential.
Lesnar beats AJ Styles at Survivor Series again, because he can never lose. He then skips TLC, which will be headlined by Strowman/Corbin or Strowman/McIntyre in a grudge feud as well as Rollins vs. Ambrose for the IC title (that’s your TLC match). Lesnar doesn’t show up in December at all.
But he’ll pop up once before Royal Rumble to have an altercation with whoever his opponent is going to be (with Paul Heyman doing the heavy lifting of the feud by cutting the same promo he’s cut for a few years). This opponent is either Strowman jobbing out again, or maybe someone like Finn Balor as a throwaway. It doesn’t matter. Lesnar will retain the title.
Throughout February and March, he’ll show up two or three times for confrontations with his WrestleMania opponent.
Lesnar’s WrestleMania Opponent:
Here’s the kicker, and follow me with this one.
Vince wanted Batista vs. Randy Orton at WrestleMania 30. Batista won the Royal Rumble, fans rejected it, and they scrambled to do a backup option of Daniel Bryan instead. There’s no way in hell you’re convincing me the plan all along was to do Bryan/HHH leading into Bryan/Orton/Batista. Absolutely not.
At WrestleMania 31, Vince wanted a babyface Roman Reigns fan favorite toppling Lesnar, but fans rejected it, so he pulled a mercy change at the end with Seth Rollins cashing in.
But he still wants those matches, and damn it, we’re wrong. We don’t know what we want. HE knows what we want. That’s why we still got Reigns vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania 34, because he wanted to revisit the previous concept and prove how wrong we were.
The fans rejected it, so he decided to drag it out even longer. Swerve! Lesnar won! You didn’t see that coming, so WWE proved to all you people saying it was “guaranteed” Reigns would win that you don’t know jack shit! Lolololololol – but, of course, that was the plan, so they just pushed it to SummerSlam, cause they weren’t going to abandon it just because we were right. They just needed to prove a point that we could be wrong, out of spite.
They were setting up Triple H vs. Batista, and if that were to happen, it would certainly be at WrestleMania. But now, Triple H is injured, so that is likely off the table. But Batista would have already been planning on taking time off and focusing his schedule around this appearance, so if he’s up for wrestling, they’ll want to use him.
Remember that report a few weeks ago that said there is likely going to be a repeat winner of the Royal Rumble?
He’s won it twice before and he’ll win it again because he checks off the boxes of being a former star who can take priority at a big show and be inserted into a spot that many fans would argue should go to someone who is regularly on the roster and busts their ass all the time, but since that isn’t how WWE works in the 2010s, we have to stop fooling ourselves that we’ll get the old story of a new star being born from winning the Royal Rumble and taking the world title at WrestleMania. It didn’t happen with Shinsuke Nakamura, nor Asuka, nor in 2017, nor in 2016. It happened in 2015, but because that was the Reigns year and everyone crapped on it, Vince might have a grudge against us about that.
Batista vs. Triple H is off the table, but Batista vs. Lesnar isn’t, and by having that match for the title, it calls into question any possibility that Batista wins and carries it going forward. Lesnar probably retains.
And Why Does Lesnar Retain?
Because Vince saw the reaction Roman Reigns is getting after his leukemia announcement and he’s hoping that after WrestleMania 35, Reigns will be healthy enough to return and be the savior to beat Lesnar, possibly at SummerSlam next year.