The Royal Rumble could potentially be the final time that Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns face each other in a one-on-one match with the WWE Universal Championship on the line. It’s a little surprising to think that they’ve only had one singles match on pay-per-view to this point despite a feud that seems to be reaching a conclusion.
We’re just a week away from the Royal Rumble but it’s certainly interesting to look back as recently as six months ago. Had original creative plans played out like WWE officials first drew them up, Owens would still be defending his Universal Title, but it would have been against Brock Lesnar. And at the time, Reigns was in the doghouse for violating the WWE Wellness Policy, purposely being kept out of the main event picture.
And then Goldberg came back and changed quite a bit of the landscape. An extension to his original deal extended the rivalry with Lesnar, through the Royal Rumble and into WrestleMania. Reigns worked his way back into favor, and despite recently being named the Most Hated Wrestler in 2016 by Pro Wrestling Illustrated, he’s in line for a major match in Orlando this coming April.
And for the last month, we’ve been hearing that both top championships would be changing hands at the Royal Rumble. John Cena is expected to dethrone AJ Styles for the WWE Championship, while Reigns has been believed to beat Owens for the Universal Championship. As we pointed out in late December, WWE officials were planning on a big coronation for Reigns at the Royal Rumble, but it didn’t necessarily mean he’d experience one at WrestleMania.
The thought at the time was that, in most scenarios, Reigns would win the belt at the Royal Rumble and either drop it before ‘Mania, or retain it in a match on the under card. And though at least part of that could still take place, Cageside Seats is now reporting that officials are re-thinking Roman’s road to WrestleMania.
The report indicates that while the plan is to put the Universal Title on Reigns, the change may not come at the Royal Rumble any longer. It’s not uncommon for Vince McMahon and his key decision-makers to call an audible on original creative plans, but Reigns beating Owens for the title at the Royal Rumble has been the consistent line of thinking for more than a month.
This certainly plays into the fact that Vince and company have yet to set the final WrestleMania card in stone. That is expected to be finalized by the end of next week. A big reason that WWE officials may be reconsidering the decision to put the title on Reigns is that he remains a potential opponent for the Undertaker at WrestleMania. The only things for certain for the Deadman in Orlando remain that he will face a superstar from the RAW brand, and he will not challenge for either top championship.
There has been very little, if any, discussion in the last month around the idea of Kevin Owens entering WrestleMania as the Universal Champion. It’s unknown if that has changed in recent days, but his chances of retaining at the Royal Rumble have apparently improved. The favorite to face Owens at Camping World Stadium remains Chris Jericho, though Owens has petitioned for bigger in recent weeks.
Keep in mind that while he isn’t expected to win the Royal Rumble match, Goldberg is slated to headline the Fastlane pay-per-view in March, the lone RAW-exclusive show in between the Rumble and ‘Mania. As noted, the WrestleMania card will be set in stone by the end of next week, which in turn, so too will the Royal Rumble and Fastlane cards.
It will certainly be interesting to connect all the dots in the coming days as Vince and other WWE officials make their final decisions on Roman Reigns, the Undertaker, John Cena, AJ Styles and others, and where the Universal Championship comes into play.
[Featured Image by WWE]