wrestling / Columns

Revisiting ‘Who Should Dethrone Roman Reigns’ After WWE Crown Jewel

October 21, 2021 | Posted by Blake Lovell
Roman Reigns WWE Smackdown Image Credit: WWE

Six months ago, I asked a simple question:

Who should dethrone Roman Reigns as WWE Universal Champion?

This came shortly after WrestleMania 37, and based on current storylines and rumors at the time, the five most sensible options seemed to be Cesaro, Big E, Drew McIntyre, Brock Lesnar, and The Rock.

On Thursday, Reigns retained the Universal title against Lesnar at WWE Crown Jewel. Given the finish, the program will likely continue. Therefore, Lesnar still has to be included among the potential stars who could dethrone Reigns, even if he doesn’t seem like the right choice. After all, the guy did end The Undertaker’s streak, so it’s not like Vince McMahon is afraid of adding to Lesnar’s list of career achievements.

Beyond Lesnar, has the list of possible candidates changed all that much since April?

Not really.

Since Big E is the new WWE Champion, him being the choice looks more and more unlikely. However, with the likelihood that he’ll face Reigns at Survivor Series in a Champion vs. Champion Match, building in a story for Big E to conquer Reigns down the line is always a possibility. But it’s not one I’m banking on at this point.

Meanwhile, speaking of Survivor Series, McIntyre was drafted to SmackDown to set up the inevitable return feud between he and Reigns. They clashed at last year’s Survivor Series, with Reigns coming out on top. WWE has no choice but to go back to that story sooner rather than later since they’re the two top stars on the brand, and McIntyre finally getting his big moment in front of a crowd sounds nice in theory.

And then there’s The Rock. The story writes itself between these two, and realistically, Rock figures to return at some point to set up a match involving the two stars. Doing that match at a WrestleMania was always going to be the plan, so they could still get to that point for WrestleMania 38, even if Rock doesn’t factor into any plans for Survivor Series.

But a WrestleMania 38 match between Rock and Reigns still doesn’t answer the original question. That’s because there’s little reason for Rock to defeat Reigns, thus continuing the reign of the Head of the Table.

So, the search continues.

Seth Rollins would probably be the best starting point after Rock given the history, but he just got drafted to Raw, meaning a program between the two would have to wait for a while. Then again, perhaps it’ll be another year before Reigns loses, and it’s not like the brand split means all that much in 2021 anyways. Rollins could trot back to SmackDown next week, and I’m not sure I’d think anything of it.

Some have mentioned the long-play storyline going back around to Jey Uso winning the title, but I don’t think that’s realistic. Edge and John Cena have already had their chances, so they’re probably out of the running, and Finn Balor was no match for the top rope.

Is there anyone else on the main roster that should be in the conversation? Not unless there’s a Daniel Bryan-esque moment where someone gains a level of momentum that cannot be ignored.

From there, there are three options currently within the company that are, at the very least, interesting to think about: WALTER, Bron Breakker, and Gable Steveson.

If his three-minute elimination at Survivor Series 2019 is any indication of the main roster creative stance on WALTER, him being the one may be more of a pipe dream than anything else.

Breakker is the next big thing in NXT, and rightfully so considering his potential. Giving him an eventual rocket push to the main roster to defeat the undefeatable monster is 100 percent something I could see happening in WWE, but will it actually happen? I’m not sure I’d completely dismiss it.

I never expected to put Steveson on the list until I thought about what it would mean for WWE outside of WWE. And to WWE, that matters. If the plan is to indeed use Steveson’s accolades as an Olympic Gold Medalist to build him up as the next Kurt Angle, the amount of mainstream attention WWE would get from having Steveson beat Reigns would be noteworthy. But would it be the right call? That’s a different discussion since, at this point, Steveson has yet to have a professional wrestling match.

After listing all the most sensible options, here’s my conclusion: I still don’t know who WWE will choose to dethrone Reigns. That’s anticlimactic, but it’s true.

Maybe it really is as easy as Lesnar getting his revenge and capturing the title. Or maybe there’s a much longer story in play that won’t make the answer evident until six months or a year (or more) from now.

The fact that the answer still isn’t clear – at least to yours truly – is probably a good thing, unless Reigns’ dominance ultimately leads to a scenario where anyone beating him feels like a letdown.

Either way, six months later, I’m still intrigued by the original question. At least for me, Reigns’ character arc continues to be most compelling part of WWE television, and that makes finding the person to eventually dethrone him one of the most important decisions the company has made in years.

No matter who it is, it’ll be a defining moment for the victor, Reigns, and WWE.

And hopefully, for all parties involved, the choice is the right one.

*For more of my thoughts on pro wrestling, subscribe to the 411 On Wrestling podcast and follow me on Twitter @wrestleblake. Thanks for reading!