By virtue of his victory over Goldberg at WrestleMania this past Sunday night, Brock Lesnar became the fourth Universal Champion in the title’s short history in the WWE. The first-ever champion, Finn Balor, made his return to RAW Monday night but was inserted into a tag match alongside Seth Rollins. Kevin Owens, the second champ, was also in the match, displaying his newly won United States Championship, and Goldberg bid farewell after the show went off the air on RAW Talk.
This will mark Brock Lesnar’s second championship reign since returning to the WWE in 2012. He captured the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from John Cena at SummerSlam in 2014 and held it until Seth Rollins cashed in during the main event of WrestleMania 31. It will be Lesnar’s fifth world title reign overall, combining both of his runs with WWE.
Monday night on RAW, Paul Heyman spoke on behalf of Brock Lesnar to serenade the fans in the story of how his client dethroned Goldberg at WrestleMania. Soon thereafter, Heyman changed course to look ahead to potential challengers to the new Universal Champion. Heyman made mention of Rollins as well as both Matt and Jeff Hardy before switching his attention to Roman Reigns. It’s also worth noting that the crowd in attendance wanted Balor in a big way, but Paul ignored their chanting entirely.
Brock Lesnar’s advocate pointed out that it was time to address the “2 in 23-2.” Of course, he was referring to the fact that the only two men to defeat the Undertaker at WrestleMania are Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. Their first match ended with the aforementioned Seth Rollins cash-in, and the two have never faced off in a singles match since. But three weeks ago, fans learned that WWE officials were planning for Brock Lesnar Roman Reigns II in the main event of WrestleMania 34.
Despite Brock and Heyman challenging Reigns to a title match Monday night, Braun Strowman interrupted the proceedings and went face-to-face with Lesnar. It was clear during their exchange that the WWE is propping up Strowman as the next challenge to Brock Lesnar, but Braun did back away when the champion challenged him to get physical right then and there. It was similar to Strowman’s back-tracking when confronted by the Undertaker several weeks ago on RAW.
Even though the WWE made it clear that Brock Lesnar’s next opponent would be Braun Strowman, that match is not happening at the next RAW-exclusive pay-per-view, Payback. This is according to Dave Meltzer, who spoke on the matter during the most recent episode of Wrestling Observer Radio. Lesnar is scheduled for more dates in 2017 than fans had been accustomed to during his part-time schedule, but apparently, that won’t include the Payback show on April 30.
It’s certainly interesting that the first pay-per-view special after WrestleMania for either brand won’t include a Universal Championship match, though the impending “Superstar Shake-Up” could certainly throw things for a loop. Instead, the plan for the top matches includes Strowman taking on Reigns again, The Hardy Boyz defending their championships against Cesaro & Sheamus, and some combination of Finn Balor against Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe. Even though he’s currently advertised on the Payback promo, Brock Lesnar will not be there.
WWE officials have wanted to do Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar for a long time now, and they may have zeroed in on the two of them for their SummerSlam main event. The only trouble is that RAW has three pay-per-views between now and then, including Payback at the end of this month. Extreme Rules is two months away from the day of this posting, and the third comes your way on July 9. There have been conflicting reports about the Bad Blood pay-per-view returning after more than a decade-long absence.
During Brock Lesnar’s previous title reign in 2014-15, he defended it against Cena in a rematch at Night of Champions, the first pay-per-view after SummerSlam. Lesnar was then absent from the next three pay-per-views until putting the belt on the line at the Royal Rumble against Cena and Rollins. Brock would then skip Fastlane before returning regularly on the road to WrestleMania.
[Featured Image by WWE]