Heading into WWE Payback, Randy Orton is set to defend the WWE Championship against Bray Wyatt in a “House of Horrors” match, but WWE officials are already planning his next rivalry, and it’s going to surprise many people. Since Bray Wyatt moved to Raw last week during the “Superstar Shakeup,” the expectation is that Orton will retain the WWE Title at WWE Payback. What’s happening afterward will be unexpected.
There were rumors of Orton turning heel at some point during the rivalry with Wyatt. The likelihood of him undergoing a heel turn is low, especially since WWE will be relying on Randy to help carry SmackDown as a babyface. He’s also likely to get a boost of momentum as the champion after enduring a “House of Horrors” match with Bray Wyatt. After their rivalry is over, Orton will reign as WWE Champion for the blue brand.
It’s been reported that WWE officials have inserted AJ Styles into the U.S. Title picture with Kevin Owens as a way to keep him busy through WWE Payback. However, it’s now being said that Owens vs. Styles is being booked for WWE Backlash, which leaves Orton and the WWE Title picture wide open. As of right now, two surprising names have emerged as potential challengers for Randy Orton heading into WWE Backlash.
Most WWE fans see that creative plans for the WWE Championship on SmackDown are heading towards a huge rivalry between Randy Orton and AJ Styles over the next couple of months. Since WWE officials have Styles feuding with Owens for the U.S. Title through WWE Backlash, The Viper needs to work with someone into June or possibly longer if the powers that be decide to delay Orton vs. Styles until WWE SummerSlam.
Randy Orton is expected to keep the WWE Title for the foreseeable future. WWE officials need to find him a placeholder until they can pull the trigger on Styles or potentially bring Shinsuke Nakamura into the WWE Title picture. As a result, it’s being rumored that Erick Rowan could be the next challenger for Orton’s WWE Championship heading into WWE Backlash, which has come as a surprise to most of the WWE Universe.
This week on SmackDown, the two men fought to a no contest. Erick Rowan just returned to television. His loyalty is still to Bray Wyatt, which could be the reason why WWE officials want him to feud with Orton. The Viper could escape The Eater of Worlds, but Rowan is still on SmackDown. It will also be interesting to see how WWE officials include or exclude Luke Harper from a rivalry with Orton over the next several weeks.
Respectfully, many WWE fans think Orton vs. Rowan is a mismatch because it’s not believable for the latter to take the title away from Randy. He’s just not established enough as a main event player to be someone that could defeat The Viper in a singles match. However, it’s being rumored that WWE officials are thinking about giving Baron Corbin a shot to work with Randy Orton in the main event at WWE Backlash.
Unfortunately for Corbin, Dean Ambrose moved to Raw and took the Intercontinental Title with him. At the moment, The Lone Wolf is without a feud on SmackDown, but WWE officials are high on him. He’s proven to be capable of working with the best on the roster and the powers that be have seen enough to believe he could handle a title match with Orton at WWE Backlash. On paper, it would be a huge opportunity for him.
It’s not confirmed if Erick Rowan or Baron Corbin is the next challenger for the WWE Championship. There are logical reasons for the powers that be to give either man a chance. Rowan could elevate himself to a new level. Baron Corbin dipping his foot into the main event would be good for him as well. Randy Orton will be holding onto the WWE Title into the summer. The choice is just about who WWE believes is ready now.
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