Plans for Brock Lesnar and the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble event in January have apparently been set.
On the most recent episode of Monday Night RAW, Kane and Braun Strowman battled to a double countout in a No. 1 contender’s match for the Universal Championship. According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, it appears that the match will indeed set up a triple threat match between Strowman, Kane, and Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia on January 28.
Meltzer also mentioned on his radio show that Kane is likely in the match to be pinned by Lesnar, and that the call to go in this direction was made by Vince McMahon.
The original plan for the Rumble had been Lesnar vs. Finn Balor, but McMahon reportedly changed his mind after determining that Balor wasn’t over (ie: popular) enough for a match against Lesnar.
The report on Balor not being over enough for the match is an intriguing paradox, as both Meltzer and his co-host Bryan Alvarez noted that WWE hasn’t even been using Balor correctly if they wanted him to be more popular with the fans. Recently Balor has been in pointless feuds with Elias Samson and Bray Wyatt, and the company even had him get destroyed by Kane in a match on Monday Night RAW about a month ago.
Contrast that to what WWE did with Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman, and even AJ Styles in a short time before their matches with Lesnar. Those three were clearly built to be credible threats, and as was the case with Styles, the size of the competitor didn’t have to be important to make that threat credible. Styles had an awesome match with Lesnar at Sunday’s Survivor Series, and both wrestlers came off looking better for it.
Instead of doing something similar with Balor, WWE marginalized him ever since his return from a brutal shoulder injury that happened at SummerSlam of last year. Balor became the first ever winner of the Universal Championship at that event, but he had to relinquish the title due to dislocating his shoulder in the middle of his match with Seth Rollins.
Ideally Balor should have a claim to the title that he never officially lost, but WWE has rarely played up that angle. It’s unfortunate too, as Balor has been a solid mover of merchandise for the company, and a match with Lesnar could have been something that helped put him over the top, even if he lost the match.
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