Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar is a big match but does not create excitement for what comes next.
WWE has quite the conundrum on their hands heading into WWE Day 1. Brock Lesnar versus Roman Reigns are booked to face off against each other with the WWE Universal Championship on the line. These are the two biggest names in the entire promotion, but the match doesn’t have the type of buzz it should. That’s because WWE has booked itself into a corner where the outcome of this match creates a whole host of new problems that are becoming harder for the promotion to solve.
According to Cagematch, Lesnar and Reigns have faced each other 10 times since their first confrontation back at WrestleMania 31 in 2015. Across a variety of matches, the database gives Lesnar seven victories to Reigns’s three. (This includes multi-man matches like the 2017 Royal Rumble.) For Reigns, a victory over Lesnar was always meant to be the moment that made him “the guy.” But that never quite came, at least not by that route.
Reigns is the top man in WWE, that’s clear today. But he didn’t get there with a victory over Lesnar. Instead, it took the heel turn fans long wanted to see and the inclusion of Paul Heyman into the storyline. Heyman’s inclusion immediately raised the cloud of what’s going to happen now that Lesnar is back, and that madness is the focus heading into the upcoming match at WWE Day 1. But what happens after that is the question that’s creating pause.
If Reigns finally picks up the essential, clean victory over Lesnar where does he go from there? SmackDown’s roster doesn’t include a list of credible contenders for The Tribal Chief. Drew McIntyre is the only well-booked individual who could be seen as a top contender for Reigns, but is that a match that can create a ton of buzz heading into WrestleMania season? If recent WWE television is a barometer to gauge that question, then the response is “no.”
What about a situation where Lesnar picks up the victory, with or without Heyman’s assistance? Does WWE really make the decision of going back to their top champion being absent at a time where interest in the rest of the roster wains? That was a huge critique of Lesnar’s last few runs with the title and it’s not a situation that WWE should book in a time when competition from All Elite Wrestling continues to build.
WWE must focus on building more credible challengers
WWE has done an excellent job building Reigns as an unstoppable force since his return at SummerSlam in 2020. But what they haven’t done is build any other members of their roster at the same time. Every challenger that Reigns has faced since becoming champion has felt like an afterthought both in the build to their match and in their booking immediately after. The SmackDown roster features some of the best performers in professional wrestling today such as Ricochet, Shinsuke Nakamura, Mustafa Ali, Cesaro, McIntyre, and others, but it’s still hard to name any one of those individuals as a credible threat to end Reigns’s championship run.
Even if Lesnar won the title, the same would be the case. Outside of McIntyre who has done it before, it’s hard to see any o the SmackDown roster being seen as a worthy challenger to either man coming out as champion. WWE has the talent and the resources to fix this situation, but the real question is whether the desire is there as well.
Roman Reigns versus Brock Lesnar will be a fine match at WWE Day 1. But it’s hard to be excited about the outcomes of the contest when the future for something new, exciting, and interesting grows bleaker every week.