We are one step closer to finding out Roman Reigns' Royal Rumble opponent

Friday's SmackDown cleared up the Universal Title picture for their January PLE.

WrestleMania 39
WrestleMania 39 / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages
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Last week's SmackDown ended with AJ Styles returning to exact some revenge on The Bloodline for putting him out of action several months ago. However, "The Phenomenal One" also took umbrage with LA Knight, as he dropped the rising star with a right hand.

This week, Styles opened the show to explain his actions. He reiterated his desire to go after Roman Reigns and company, but noted that he would take out anyone who impeded that goal. This drew out LA Knight, which allowed Styles to expess his issue with Knight taking his spot at Fastlane last October. After those two jawed for a while, Randy Orton came out to remind everyone that The Bloodline cost him a year of his career (in storyline).

So, we have three top stars who want a shot at Reigns' WWE Championship, and it didn't take long to solve this quagmire.

How will WWE determine Roman Reigns' next challenger?

Once these three concluded their squabbling, SmackDown general manager Nick Aldis announced that Knight, Styles, and Orton would face each other at the "New Year's Revolution" (man, WWE is definitely getting good use out of its old pay-per-view names) edition of the Friday night show. WWE punctuated this announcement by having the trio of contenders brawl with one another as SmackDown went off the air.

This match gives the first SmackDown of 2024 a strong main event. These are three men with reasonable claims to a title match and understandable issues with Reigns, and it helps that they are also three of the most over wrestlers on the SmackDown roster.

WWE usually books these matches to protect someone from getting pinned, and with Knight still in the formative stage of his main event run, he seems like the likeliest candidate to avoid taking the loss. Plus, Orton pinning Styles should hasten the latter's impending heel turn (with his darker clothes and standoffish attitude toward Michin, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows being the other indicators).

There's also the possibility that Reigns, Solo Sikoa, and Jimmy Uso attack all three men to keep them from getting a title shot, only for Aldis to book a Fatal 4-Way for the Royal Rumble. It wouldn't be a huge surprise considering that WWE loves to dust off this trope when it wants to book a multi-person match, and it would also give Aldis a chance to show that he won't roll over for the former "Big Dog", but it would be an underwhelming way to end the match.

Next. Kayden Carter and Katana Chance will have a fun run as WWE tag champs. Kayden Carter and Katana Chance will have a fun run as WWE tag champs. dark

So, hopefully, we get a real finish to the triple threat, but even if we don't, the plans for Reigns at the Rumble are clear.