WrestleMania Preview: WWE Universal Championship Match

For a whole year now we have all been well aware of WWE’s intention to have Roman Reigns Challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at this year’s WrestleMania. Many fans were annoyed by this, seeing Reigns as boring and undeserving, rising through the ranks of superstars one after another standing tall over them, even beating the Undertaker at last year’s WrestleMania.

Brock has appeared sporadically over the year in programs and has been fed tip talents to make him seem unbeatable, ranging from Samoa Joe, WWE Champion AJ Styles, Kane and Braun Strowman. Braun was booked strongest against Lesnar and was the only person so far who seemed like they had a credible chance of taking the title from Lesnar.

Roman booked his place in the match at the same time Braun lost his spot, in the first-ever seven-man Elimination Chamber match Braun went through all other men, with the group effort finally allowing Reigns to finish him off when the two were left as the last men.

Reigns, after rejoining the title picture had a series of great promos, accompanied by the absence of Brock Lesnar, allowing Roman to point out how disrespectful Lesnar was for ‘no showing’ events, disrespectful to not only the fans who had paid to see him but to the boys in the locker room. Brock and Paul helped push this image as well, it has become his character, in a bid to get the fans on Roman’s side.

I don’t think this approach has worked personally, given the chants of ‘one more time’ after Lesnar has delivered multiple chair shots, F5’s and taking a handcuffed Reigns on a trip to ‘Suplex City.’ WWE has pulled out all the stops in their push of Reigns, from security guards and police, suspensions and Vince’s participation in the storyline. Even groups of superstars sent out to stop anarchy from breaking loose, only to side with Reigns and his opinion of Lesnar, allowing him to get to Brock.

Despite the champ having a steel chair in hand, ‘The Big Dog’ got off five superman punches against Lesnar, which I think were oversold, before the segment ended, with Lesnar on his feet, and Reigns on the floor. With his freakish speed, Lesnar went from laying on the floor to being upright with Roman on his shoulders, delivering an F5 to allow his escape from the ring.

With that taking place on the go home episode of Raw I think we are safe to speculate on what may occur this Sunday and going forward.

Rumors range from Heyman betraying Brock and siding with Reigns to force the long-awaited heel turn of the ‘Big Dog,’ to Brock dropping the belt to return to UFC, which was fuelled by a picture of him alongside Dana White recently, the President of UFC.

The last time Lesnar fought for the Mixed Martial Arts company he was rumbled for illegal substances in his system, which led to a USADA ban stopping Lesnar from competing in the Octagon until this coming September.

Lesnar has made enough money that he could leave whenever he wants, and we are fed this line that he does what he wants, or has no real care for the business, other than to collect a paycheck. I believe this to be a half-truth.

I think Brock loves the business, after all, he gets paid a lot to do little. He is great friends with both Vince and Dana and has a passion for fighting, and because of that I do believe will see him return to the Octagon; however, I think he may extend his contract with WWE until September and then return to UFC after. It’s easier money.

The picture with Dana could have been misread by the fans and could simply be two friends taking a photo after a great meal. It could indeed be a sign of him leaving, although I personally think there is more to this, does everyone remember how easily WWE and Ronda Rousey duped everyone on the day of the Rumble?

When something is pushed down our throats a bit too forcefully, a swerve is likely coming. I believe we are being worked and there is a slight chance that Lesnar retains and we all are gobsmacked. As I said, it’s been force fed to us so much that we see it as a foregone conclusion. Is that not what wrestling is about, making us think we know whats going on?

Other rumors include a post ‘Mania feud between Reigns and a returning Samoa Joe focused around the Universal Championship suggesting Roman wins.

There was also talk of a feud between Lesnar and a returning Bobby Lashley. Both men are former MMA fighters, and Lashley has expressed a lot of interest in returning to face Brock. Both things could theoretically happen, with Paul Heyman saying that if Roman wins, himself and Brock Lesnar will not appear on Raw anymore. Further fuelling the rhetoric of them leaving. A move to SmackDown could be more likely, with a feud with Lashley or matches with Styles, Nakamura, and many more fresh faces after so long on Raw.

My biggest issue so far is how both men have been billed as unbeatable, both being the only two men to have beaten the ‘Phenom’ at Mania one on one. Who could you position to be credible enough to overcome the unbeatable? There are many plausible contenders, but Strowman is by far the most logical choice given his build this past year. This will be an interesting few months where we will finally see which direction the title scene is headed in.

In the actual match this Sunday I expect lots of Suplexes, Superman punches, chair shots, a broken announcers desk or two and Reigns basically being brutalised for most of the match before coming back near the end and unleashing a beating on Brock to make up for these past few weeks; however, I’m still undecided on who will win.

My heart says we are being worked and Lesnar will retain, my head says Reigns will walk away as the new Universal Champion. Why build him up for the year just to have him lose? Either way, I have enjoyed the build for this match, which has been one of the most built up of all the matches in the WrestleMania card. I expect the match to be no less entertaining and regardless of the result, I think we will all have a new respect for Reigns. Ok…maybe not all of us.

Some people will never give in and like Roman.Yet if you look at how he is being booked, with all that I mentioned with the security and the locker room forming a barricade then allowing him through, which is evident when you take into account that he is Vince’s current day ‘Chosen One’, there are hints of the ‘Attitude Era’ stars such as Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. He has the character and attitude (no pun intended) that got these stars so much of a run with the fans, I think Vince is just trying to emulate their success through Roman. We will be seeing Roman for many years to come, and I believe that he is very dedicated to the fans and the company. He is the face of WWE.

Roman
Credit: WWE.com

We will all have to wait until Sunday to see if there is a swerve or just really bad leaks within WWE’s writing teams and whatever the outcome there will be many fans pleased, and just as many angered.

The real direction of the title and both competitors will be more evident after the Raw and SmackDown directly after ‘Mania, also held in the host city of New Orleans. I look forward to this match and the outcome, hopefully allowing us to move past this phase of ‘knowing Roman will win.’

An interesting note is that Kevin Nash, when talking about ending Goldberg’s undefeated streak back in WCW, due to Goldberg’s merch sales and reception cooling off from the white-hot run he was first on, coining the term ‘Coldberg’, it was noticed that Goldberg did much better in his role of chasing the title and battling the heels. Could Roman share that fate and eternally be kept from being a long-term champion?

We will see once and for all this Sunday, April 8th at the ‘Grandest Stage of Them All,’ WrestleMania.

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