Who will challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship?
The answer is no clearer than it was last week.
After the Universal Champion’s contract negotiations hit an unspecified “snag,” Raw General Manager Kurt Angle was forced to backtrack on Raw this week and cancel the planned multi-man bout at WWE Extreme Rules to determine his challenger — much to the chagrin of Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley, who were the first two WWE Superstars announced for the contest.
The lingering tension between Reigns and Lashley led Angle to contemplate sanctioning a singles match between the two at Extreme Rules. But before things could escalate, The Revival appeared on the scene to demand a rematch after last week’s loss.
“This is all storyline. Right now the idea is for a Reigns vs. Lashley singles match, but like everything, that is subject to change,” Dave Meltzer wrote in the latest issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
“Right now the plan is still Lesnar vs. Reigns, which sounds like a bad idea given people are so over it as even with the fluke ending at Greatest Royal Rumble, people are burned out about another rematch.”
This storyline is another attempt by WWE to have fans support Reigns when he challenges Lesnar. This was the idea for their match at WrestleMania 34.
“At the time, Lesnar was a babyface and the idea was to portray him as someone who didn’t care about the fans, or care about wrestling, to the point he would no-show at will (ironically the company falsely advertised him for a number of television dates to get the idea over),” Meltzer wrote.
“In the end, the storyline did succeed in getting Lesnar not cheered. But it didn’t help Reigns at all. Even though both guys worked hard at WrestleMania, the crowd made up its mind to hate the match rather than give it a chance or even grudgingly respect it. Given the direction of the storyline, if that is the SummerSlam direction, the danger is for it to happen even more a second time because this is an indoor crowd in New York.”
The current storyline is to make it appear as if Lesnar is looking to leave WWE for the UFC. The difference this time is that Lesnar is looking to leave WWE without dropping the Universal Championship.
On Raw, Angle brought up this long rambling post Paul Heyman did on his Facebook page last Saturday where he took shots at him, Reigns, Lashley, and others. While Heyman didn’t outright say that Lesnar is looking to leave WWE for the UFC, he alluded to it by saying his client is looking for “Ultimate opportunities.”
WWE’s goal, at least as of this week, is to tell a story where Lesnar looks like he’s leaving, while Reigns is being told by everyone, his fellow wrestlers, Heyman, and even the fans themselves, that he needs to step aside because he’s failed in multiple opportunities against Lesnar. The idea is that nobody believes in Reigns but himself, and that will either make him sympathetic before the match (this is unlikely to work) or that at least coming out of it, there will be some grudging admiration for him.
Lashley vs. Reigns was not announced although strongly hinted at on Raw, where the winner would likely be Lesnar’s next opponent. It makes sense that Lesnar faces the winner of that match at SummerSlam on August 19, but that also is not confirmed. Ultimately it will take place at the time of Vince McMahon’s choosing and the result will be the result McMahon wants.
Among UFC officials, there has been talk of Lesnar facing the winner of a UFC Heavyweight Championship fight on July 7 between reigning champion Stipe Miocic and current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier. For Lesnar to be in contention for the fight, scheduled for December 29, he has until today (Friday) to enter the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) drug testing pool. Regardless of anything, he needs to pass six months of clean drug testing before he can fight again in the UFC.