For years, fans continue to toss around the idea of a dream match between Roman Reigns vs. The Rock at WrestleMania. We thought it was potentially on the card a few times, only to not yet see it play out.
But over the past few years, it has seemed more and more like a given that it will happen when WrestleMania goes to Hollywood—even if it is one year later than it was originally scheduled.
Speculation has heated up even more recently that WWE has been pitching ideas of The Rock winning the 2023 Royal Rumble in order to set this up. However, it’s also suggested that isn’t a guarantee.
Basically, we keep hearing the oldest scoop scam in the world. Some people may or may not have heard that The Rock will or will not win the Royal Rumble to set up a match against Roman Reigns that may or may not happen at WrestleMania, possibly, kind of, but they aren’t sure.
But this got the gears in my mind turning. I’ve been taking this as a given all this time. Even when they had Reigns unify the titles, I figured “Well, I guess that just means The Rock wins the Royal Rumble and that’s that.” I’ve thought of dozens of ways WWE could have utilized Money in the Bank or other methods to split the belts back up, but they haven’t, and I highly doubt they will in the next few weeks.
But let’s just say the nugget of truth to all these reports is the element that The Rock will face Reigns at WrestleMania, but he doesn’t necessarily have to win the Royal Rumble to do that.
What else do you do, then?? Who else wins the Royal Rumble? How do you justify this? Where do you go from there?
Here are a few ideas we might be in store for.
WWE Wastes the Title Shot at Elimination Chamber
I vehemently hate it when the Royal Rumble winner wastes their challenge before WrestleMania. I’ve never once liked that and I don’t think I’ll ever advocate for it to ever happen again.
But that doesn’t mean it won’t.
In fact, it’s the simplest solution outside of The Rock winning the Royal Rumble match, making it the most likely scenario we’ll see play out in January.
A guy like Kevin Owens wins the Royal Rumble and either chooses that he can’t wait until WrestleMania for his title match, or he’s goaded into speeding up the process. They do the match at Elimination Chamber or on Raw or SmackDown in February/March. Reigns retains the title and cuts a promo about how he needs an opponent for WrestleMania now. Enter The Rock to just say “me”, effectively, and skip to the front of the line like what happened between Reigns and Goldberg.
Roman Reigns Pulls Double Duty With or Without Splitting the Titles
So far, they haven’t split those titles. That doesn’t mean they won’t do it by the time WrestleMania has finished.
There are two nights, after all. While I would assume one of those will be headlined by Ronda Rousey (likely against Becky Lynch, which I’m not interested in seeing again), there’s a chance Roman Reigns headlines both nights. That would be historic.
WrestleMania 38 proved you still can’t know what the main event is going to be even when it is advertised ahead of time. We were supposed to get a talking segment to finish the night. Instead, we got Stone Cold Steve Austin wrestling.
Maybe, since The Tribal Chief is holding both belts, he’s forced to defend the WWE Championship on one night and the Universal Championship on the next.
I don’t think that will happen, as WWE has had him defend both this whole year and never once separated them. But it’s still a possibility.
If that were to happen, I think we’d see someone like Cody Rhodes win the Royal Rumble, challenge for the WWE Championship on the first night, and The Rock to get the second night’s match for the Universal Championship. That way, Roman could lose the first one, even if it’s through some interference from The Rock to set up the next night, and beat The Rock to retain the title he’s held onto the longer time frame.
Alternatively, if WWE isn’t interested in splitting the belts, we could still see a Royal Rumble winner challenge for the titles on Night 1, only for The Rock vs. Reigns to be a non-title match on Night 2.
That’s even less likely, though. WWE just last year bent over backwards to have a title unification because they thought it would be more interesting with the belts on the line. They’re not going to have Reigns drop the belt Night 1 and have a non-title match Night 2. He’d just go into Night 2 as champion, and if that’s the case, why wouldn’t he just defend it and retain?
I’m not holding my breath on this. It’s just an idea that could happen.
WrestleMania Features a Triple Threat Match: The Rock vs. Roman Reigns vs. ???
I don’t think anyone wants to see this, but that hasn’t stopped WWE from doing bad ideas in the past.
The Rock vs. Roman Reigns needs to be a singles match. Adding a third person into the mix will taint it. But they could, theoretically, have a Royal Rumble winner be in the middle of this feud.
There are only three people I could imagine filling this role: Brock Lesnar, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and John Cena.
But when it comes to Lesnar, I think he’s just going to fight Bobby Lashley again. Personally, I’d try to book him against Logan Paul, but that’s a topic for another article.
If you’ve got Austin or Cena, I think you have other matches you can do. Austin could fight Lesnar for another dream match, or fight Cena. Cena could fight Austin Theory. We could get Austin vs. AJ Styles for all we know.
This isn’t the type of spot for Cody Rhodes or anyone on the normal roster to win and be standing between Reigns and Dwayne Johnson. They’ll seem out of place. But, again, we’ve gotten some weird ideas from WWE in the past, so you can never count it out.
A Controversial Royal Rumble Finish With No Winner
Maybe nobody wins, and that’s how they get around it.
It would be incredibly disappointing and not at all the creative direction I would go, by any means, mind you. I prefer the 1994 Royal Rumble with two winners rather than the 2005 where they just acted like Batista and Cena didn’t fall out of the ring and continued on. The last thing I want is a non-finish.
But, again, WWE’s done some backwards-ass frustrating stuff in the past. It’s not outside the realm of possibility for two finalists to stumble out of the ring at the same time and be declared a draw. Then, for those two to have a match at something like Elimination Chamber, only for Reigns to attack them for another no-contest, or for them to beat each other up for another draw, setting the stage that they’ll fight in a grudge match at WrestleMania while Reigns gets off free.
Only for The Rock to come out and issue the challenge, that is. Or, hell, maybe The Rock even wins the Elimination Chamber to determine the No. 1 contender. That is, if the two finalists in the Royal Rumble aren’t just entered into the Elimination Chamber with the idea in mind that “both will get their title shot” in that match.
In their minds, they might think of this as a good hook to get people to watch the episodes of Raw and SmackDown after Royal Rumble in February and March to find out how this all plays out.
Roman Reigns Wins the Royal Rumble, Challenges The Rock Himself
What if Roman Reigns uses his power and influence to enter the Royal Rumble and comes out victorious?
That was Lesnar’s intention in 2020. He was going to go in, win the match and get to pick his own opponent for WrestleMania.
Of course, Reigns wouldn’t start at No. 1 by any means. Not a chance. He’d likely be the No. 30 entrant or somewhere around then. But this could be one of the better ways to stall.
Reigns wins. For the first time in a long while, there is no WrestleMania challenge. He’s left with the task to crown his own challenger. Elimination Chamber can be what he decides to put his options through, only for The Rock to win that.
Or, Reigns could defend inside Elimination Chamber and The Rock just starts a feud with him. That is, if they don’t just go with only one Elimination Chamber match featuring the women while Reigns is completely unrelated to that cage.
This is starting to become one of my biggest predictions for Royal Rumble. I’m fully starting to believe if The Rock doesn’t win it, this may be the backup plan.
Someone Wins on Roman’s Behalf and Opts to Forfeit Their Title Shot
Maybe Reigns doesn’t win it himself, but someone in The Bloodline wins the Royal Rumble and we get a somewhat similar situation.
Let’s say Jey Uso makes it to the final four with some guys like Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins and Karrion Kross or whatever. The rest of The Bloodline come out, attack the three other guys, and help Jey Uso win the Royal Rumble.
Then, to show his loyalty to The Head of the Table, Uso says he’s not going to challenge Reigns for his belt. Since there aren’t any other options, that just renders the Royal Rumble a pointless win.
It’s a terrible idea. I hate it. But it’s one of the alternate routes WWE could take if they’re just looking to avoid having The Rock win the Royal Rumble and don’t want to have someone like Owens win it and use the title shot for Elimination Chamber or on Raw or SmackDown.
Playing the NXT Card for Someone Other Than The Rock
There’s also a precedent that the Royal Rumble winner can challenge for the NXT Championship. It happened with Charlotte Flair facing Rhea Ripley in 2020.
Things have changed since then. NXT isn’t a third brand like it was that experimental year. WWE isn’t treating it as anything but the developmental show. But we’ve seen Austin Theory tease that he could cash in Money in the Bank on Bron Breakker. That means WWE thinks these belts are still in play for similar spots.
I’m sure this would upset a lot of people. If you have someone win the Royal Rumble, only to say they don’t want to have a title shot for the two most prestigious belts in the main event of WrestleMania, but to battle Breakker at NXT Stand & Deliver, you’re going to have fans complaining.
But again, this is the company that thought it was a good idea for Flair to beat Ripley when The Nightmare was on a roll. They derailed her momentum just to put Flair on NXT, only to have her drop the title not too long after to Io Shirai at In Your House.
What I Currently Think Will Happen
Right now, before we’re getting too deep into the build to Royal Rumble, I’m expecting The Rock to win it. If he doesn’t, I think the second most likely scenario is for someone to win it, then have their title shot at Elimination Chamber. The third most likely option would be Reigns winning the Royal Rumble to bypass the whole thing.
Realistically, those are the only things I think will happen. The others are still possibilities, but I don’t put a lot of stock into them.
If it were up to me, Reigns wouldn’t be holding two titles this past year in the first place and we wouldn’t have this issue. We’d just have someone else win the Royal Rumble to challenge for the WWE Championship while Reigns steadies himself for a Universal Championship match against The Rock.
What do you think will go down at the 2023 Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 39? Drop your predictions in the comments below!