Roman Reigns' leukemia announcement effectively froze WWE and its fans. But the show must go on, and Vince McMahon & Co. have big plans brewing for Reigns' emergency replacement, Brock Lesnar.
After Crown Jewel, one would assume the Universal Championship is a two-man game between Lesnar and Braun Strowman. However, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, WWE is planning a big angle for Lesnar, one that involves multiple Superstars.
While Strowman is expected to hover around Lesnar and his big red belt, it was Seth Rollins who made a specific mention of Lesnar during his Raw promo this Monday. Rollins is set for a battle with Dean Ambrose in the near term, but it appears that WWE may be preserving him for a shot at Lesnar down the road.
Another name that could be tossed into the Universal Championship fray is Drew McIntyre. A report came out earlier this week that had WWE planning to give McIntyre a major push in 2019. We're not entirely sure what that looks like but McIntyre is on the short list of potential Royal Rumble winners.
So what exactly does all of this mean? Well, WWE is literally doing this on the fly. Reigns' leukemia came as a surprise to everyone, so every move WWE has made since has been ad-libbed. WWE spent the summer agreeing with fans that Brock Lesnar is a bad champion, yet just two months later, The Beast is back in WWE's throne. Even more, he's reportedly signed through WrestleMania, which means there's a decent chance he keeps WWE's top title through April.
At this moment, WWE probably doesn't know who the next universal champion is. However, the candidate is limited to Rollins, McIntyre, Strowman and maybe Dean Ambrose. we'll guess that WWE will use multi-man matches to feel out the crowd and see if one of those men can get hot and make a strong case to become WWE's top guy.
Stowman would appear to be the favorite, but a pair of bum knees and a worrisome report about his backstage etiquette may not make him the slam dunk he appears to be. McIntyre is certainly surging, but it's hard to imagine him challenging for, let alone one winning, the Universal Championship at WM35. However, Seth Rollins may be the snuggest fit.
Rollins' current feud with Dean Ambrose is in its earliest chapters but promises to be compelling. If Rollins leaves that feud with momentum, WWE will need little justification to promote to the Universal Championship scene. Rollins 2018 has been remarkable to say the least, and now that he's a babyface, he very well could be the hero that WWE is searching for.