WWE hoped to have Roman Reigns back in time for SummerSlam in August, but it looks like that won’t be happening, according to Ringside News. The plan was for the absent superstar to face either Bray Wyatt or Braun Strowman at the event, but those plans were nixed after officials learned that Reigns wouldn’t be back in time for the pay-per-view.
Judging by the choice of opponents WWE had in mind, Reigns’ match would have been for the Universal Championship. Strowman and Wyatt are currently embroiled in a battle for the title, with the pair set to face off in a Swamp Match at Extreme Rules this weekend.
Presumably, Reigns would have faced the winner of that match. The superstar was originally supposed to challenge Goldberg for the title at this year’s WrestleMania, but his last-minute withdrawal from the show forced Strowman to take his place. Strowman won the match and has been the champion ever since.
By WWE’s storyline logic, Reigns is owed a future title match. However, since the superstar’s future is up in the air at the moment, the company has been forced to plan ahead without the former World Champion in mind.
Reigns is currently taking time off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a leukemia survivor with a depleted immune system, he’s more susceptible to catching the disease. The superstar recently became a father again too, and he’s stated that his family comes first at the moment.
The uptick in WWE employees testing positive for COVID-19 recently probably hasn’t made Reigns want to speed up the return process. As reported by Forbes, Renee Young and several other employees — including in-ring talents — became infected in recent weeks. With WWE continuing to put on shows despite the positive cases, some employees are fearful that the virus will spread throughout the company.
The Ringside News report also speculated that Reigns might return to the ring sooner rather than expected. It’s not uncommon for Vince McMahon and his employees to spring surprises on the WWE Universe, especially at major shows. Reigns returning at one of the company’s biggest shows of the year would certainly give the fans a moment to remember.
It remains to be seen if Reigns has backstage heat, however. His name hasn’t been mentioned on WWE television since he took time off, and the company even removed clips of the superstar from video packages. This suggests that he’s upset officials, though it could be the company’s way of making his inevitable return more surprising.