SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
On Aug. 19, we saw Brock Lesnar-Roman Reigns 4. This will likely end up being their last contest. All those who criticized Lensar’s schedule will have the Universal Title on Raw every week (in theory). While I am excited for that concept (which we have not seen since Kevin Owen’s subpar reign), I am also saddened because it will be the end of that title’s level of prestige.
Not a single member of the Raw roster posed a threat to Lesnar. He beat them all. Braun Strowman came close, but only got one shot. Therefore, his time with the belt has placed the Universal Title on an enormous pedestal. With Reigns as champion now, it will again be on a man who can be toppled. Exciting as the concept is, I’m not looking forward to the future.
Soon, the title will begin to run through other Raw wrestlers who don’t need to even sniff the championship scene. Soon, inevitably, Finn Balor for example will have his turn. (Let’s say it happens summer 2019.) And we will call that rock bottom.
Not because he cannot wrestle.
Not because he isn’t a good worker.
It’ll be because one year prior, Finn would have stood no chance of getting that title. Instead we will again have a champion who is more popular than believable. This isn’t to say undersized guys can’t be champion; quite the opposite. There are two kinds of lighter “heavyweight” champions:
Rey Mysterio and A.J. Styles
Mysterio’s WWE Title reign happened because he was popular. WWE wanted to ride the wave and were thoroughly booked into a corner with larger opponents. When time came, he could not realistically have a title match with super heavyweights. His title loss ended up looking like a squash. Rock bottom of the WWE title (no, Great Khali was not rock bottom.)
Then there’s A.J. Styles: an undersized wrestler (compared to super heavyweights) who has a style and moveset that makes him reasonably appear to be a threat. Same goes for your Daniel Bryans of the world. Their grind to the top is complemented by a style that can reasonably and potentially fend off any other wrestler. For the record, we all harp on John Cena and Reigns for the Five Moves of Doom, but no one wants to call out Balor on his Four Moves of Doom (dropkick, ‘clothesline,’ sling blade, Coup de Gras, repeat until the match is over)?
I digress. But the same case could be made for other WWE Raw wrestlers – Sami Zayn, Tyler Breeze, Dolph Ziggler. Guys who would not be a threat to Lesnar could somehow beat other wrestlers on the roster (save for Strowman and Bobby Lashley) and become universal champion. In fact, I can’t wait until Strowman has the belt and gets “outsmarted” or pepper sprayed so that someone “popular” can reasonably stand a chance against him and steal the title.
We can only hope Raw will begin to build up wrestlers again.
For over a year, we have been treated to a champion who was always a big deal, a champion who realistically walked around like an immoveable object. When the dust settles, however, and the Universal Title is finally circulating around Raw, we will all fondly remember a time when we were glued to the TV and wondered who would or even could topple The Beast.
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