As the WWE prepares to turn the calendar from 2016 to 2017, and subsequently rev the engines for the road to WrestleMania, the top program to close out the year on the RAW brand will feature Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns. As had been reported several weeks ago, and confirmed this past Monday, Owens and Reigns will do battle for the WWE Universal Championship at Roadblock: End of the Line on December 18.
Reigns and Owens have never competed against each other in a singles match on a pay-per-view before, let alone in the main event for a world title. So the decision to book them together on RAW (in a non-main event slot nonetheless) was questionable, but the creative team decided to put Reigns over clean in order to qualify for a title opportunity at the upcoming pay-per-view.
This is harmonious with their live event matches, where Reigns has been booked to beat Owens, the champion, at every turn via pinfall. The house show tour matches have seen Reigns put his United States Championship on the line, and according to a report from Wrestling Inc., that was the original plan for the match this past Monday on RAW.
It was also noted that the live event matches were originally designed to be title vs title where Roman Reigns would put his U.S. title on the line while Kevin Owens would put his Universal Championship up for grabs. That was then changed to simply a U.S. Championship match so that Reigns could get the victories. That formula was supposed to continue on the most recent episode of RAW, but they changed it at the last minute to the stipulation that actually transpired.
So not only has Reigns been beating Owens clean on the house show circuit, but now he’s beaten the brand’s top champion clean on television to set up their title bout in less than three weeks. The idea behind these decisions stems from the probable outcome at Roadblock. Cageside Seats is reporting that Reigns is currently scheduled to defeat Kevin Owens at Roadblock to become the new WWE Universal Champion, which makes sense if he’s winning every match, television or otherwise, that they’re wrestling.
As we’ve seen a lot recently, things are always subject to change, but that is the leading plan as of now with two more episodes of RAW before the pay-per-view. The main reason for putting Reigns over is so that he could boast about being a double champ, owning both the Universal and United States Championships.
This is relevant, of course, because by virtue of his victory over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, Conor McGregor became the first ever dual-champ in the UFC. McGregor, of course, was forced to relinquish the featherweight title, but it was a historic achievement nonetheless. The WWE is pursuing Conor hard for a spot at WrestleMania, and any tie-ins to the UFC superstar can only benefit their brand.
So it appears that Kevin Owens’ reign will conclude just shy of four months. But more significantly, it may come to an end prior to the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. Goldberg’s return has had a domino effect on many upcoming decisions, and Owens is no exception. On Wednesday, the Inquisitr reported that Goldberg agreeing to extend his stay may have afforded the company to push back the proposed Triple H-Seth Rollins showdown to WrestleMania, whereas before, they were discussing it taking place at the Royal Rumble.
Originally, Owens was going to hold onto the belt until January, where he would then have defended it against Brock Lesnar at the Rumble. Brock is still engaged in a feud with Goldberg; they’ll both be participants in the Rumble match and then finish off their feud at WrestleMania.
Reigns, on the other hand, appears to be out of the doghouse after his Wellness Policy violation resulted in a temporary slide down the card. All said and done, that “punishment” spanned all of one feud, and he came out on top in his extended program with Rusev before re-entering the main event scene immediately after.
[Featured Image by WWE]