Last week's Friday Night SmackDown ended with Roman Reigns learning he'd be defending his WWE Universal Championship against Seth Rollins at this year's Royal Rumble pay-per-view. The move came as a surprise since Rollins is a member of the Raw roster, the brand split is still firmly established, the pair didn't clash when the were both on SmackDown for the better part of a year and Rollins was just involved in the WWE Championship picture with Big E, Kevin Owens, Bobby Lashley and Brock Lesnar. Adam Pearce appeared on The Bump this week to address his decision.
"You know, the thing about finding Roman's challenger is that you need to scour every nook, every cranny and you've got to find somebody that you believe is a formidable challenge to Roman Reigns. I was listening to Bobby Lashley a second ago talking about the match coming up against Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble, and I wanted to find something that would bring a very similar feeling," Pearce explained. "And what landed me on Seth is history, really. When you think about two people intertwined for a certain period of time, I think Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins with everything they've been through, with everything they've stood together for and against, makes a very intriguing matchup and one that I know Mr. Reigns is not happy about, but here we are. They trusted me to make the decision and it is official."
Reigns and Rollins have a history stretching back to their WWE debuts in 2012 as members of The Shield, and Rollins has famously gotten the upper hand on Reigns whenever the pair clash against each other. Both of his two reigns as WWE Champion started by pinning "The Tribal Chief" at WrestleMania 31 (thanks to a Money in the Bank cash-in) and at the 2016 Money in the Bank event. Check out the updated lineup for the Royal Rumble below:
- WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins
- WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley
- Raw Women's Championship: Becky Lynch vs. Doudrop
- Edge & Beth Phoenix vs. The Miz & Maryse
- Men's Royal Rumble (Johnny Knoxville, Big E, AJ Styles, Angelo Dawkins, Montez Ford, Rey Mysterio, Dominik Mysterio, Austin Theory, Sheamus, Damian Priest, TBA)
- Women's Royal Rumble (Charlotte Flair, Mickie James, Rhea Ripley, Nikki A.S.H., Dana Brooke, Carmella, Queen Zelina, Shotzi, Natalya, Aliyah, Naomi, Shayna Baszler, Nikki Bella, Brie Bella, Lita, Michelle McCool, Kelly Kelly, Summer Rae, TBA)