The Latest Clue in WWE's Universal Championship Puzzle

A significant chunk of WWE fans swears they can't stomach another Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar Universal Championship match.

Well, Vince McMahon may be ready to call your bluff.

According to Cagesideseats current expectations have Reigns pinning Bobby Lashley next week and officially punching his ticket for his fourth attempt at Lesnar.

This would put many WWE fans in quite the predicament. So many are ready to watch Brock Lesnar bow out of his Universal Championship duties — and possibly WWE for good. However, just as many have a visceral reaction to Reigns taking an undisputed seat atop WWE. And if the conflict wasn't twisted enough, there's a demographic who want nothing to do with neither Reigns nor Lesnar.

And no one seems to be too excited about Bobby Lashley, either.

But there does seem to be a singular common hope — Braun Strowman cashes-in to close SummerSlam. It's not unlikely, either. Whether it's Lashley, Reigns, or Lesnar who hold up the big red belt, all three are flawed enough to justify Strowman using his briefcase.

If Strowman is the plan, then it may be best for Reigns to not just beat Lashley, but also pin Lesnar. To Brooklyn, this is a nightmare situation. I'd guess WWE is well aware of this and sending Strowman on his march could be a great way to send everyone home happy. But to WWE, it doesn't really matter if everyone is happy.

From here it looks like we have two real options for SummerSlam:

1. Rings vs. Lesnar.

2. Reigns vs.: Ashley vs. Lesnar

I feel confident in saying there is no way Lashley beats Reigns next week. He just pinned him cleanly at Extreme Rules. However, that match has proven to be basically useless as their next fight actually has major implications. WWE tossed Lashley a big win without really hurting anyone because in the end, Reigns still gets the biggest moment.

But if Lashley isn't pinning Reigns in Cincinnati then only the way he gets to the main event is if Brock Lesnar enters to pummel both of them and ruining the match. WWE is already painting the picture of Lesnar and Heyman being reluctant to do much. So the complication of adding a second opponent at SummerSlam would make Heyman simultaneously combust at Kurt Angle's feet.

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Even more, a triple threat makes sense because it gives WWE more data. I think it's fair to say they've hesitated to anoint Reigns as Universal Champion. and I'll bet they're unsure about Lashley, too. So why not give them a few more weeks to make a final push? By cutting things off now, WWE would assume the tough role of endearing just Reigns or just Lashley to fans — a process that could easily swing fans back to Lesnar's corner.

If I have to call it now, I think WWE will stick with the program and ride Reigns all the way through — with a 33% chance Strowman cashes in. Lashley would feel too much like a Goldberg reboot. Lesnar retaining runs counter to his UFC ambitions, plus WWE won't want him as champ if he were to get wrecked by Cormier. Go with Reigns and if it's awful, then Strowman or Seth Rollins can play hero.