As everybody knows by now, the new WWE Universal Championship is vacant. Finn Balor had to relinquish the title belt last week, just after winning the prize at Summerslam over Seth Rollins. Terrible timing indeed but silver lining speaking, it sets up a perfect WrestleMania scenario. More on that in six months or so. Until then, we have a blank spot on Raw brand without a champion ruling over the brand.
Since Balor had to give up the belt, WWE had a series of matches on Monday to qualify for this week's championship four way out. Winner is the new title holder, and we move forward to September's Clash of Champions while counting down the days for Balor to come back in early 2017 and reclaim the gold (or red) he never lost.
Who are the four men you ask? Good question. Let's take a look at the wrestlers vying for the prize this Monday night.
Who Will Be The New WWE Universal Champion?
Big Cass: Not Happening - Okay, let me list some positives first. He is doing great in his tag team role with Enzo. He is fairly agile for a big man. He has a decent amount of fan support. When Enzo was injured, Cass actually held his own and felt like he belonged out there as a solo star wrestling bigger names. In terms of the new era, it does not get much more "new" than this choice, having him just debuting on RAW in April.
Unfortunately, none of that means he should lead the top wrestling show in the world live every single Monday night. Even if you are the world's most diehard Big Cass fan, you have to understand all the reasons why he should NOT win the Universal Championship now. I mean, I am a fan of the guy and all...but no. Too young, too inexperienced, too everything. Minus the initial shock factor, it would leave us with nowhere to go. Cross off Big Cass as winning. His time may come at a later date but not in 2016. Let the man develop first and be READY!
Kevin Owens: My Immediate Choice But Not Anymore - When the four way was compiled, my immediate reaction was "Kevin Owens is winning." That was my gut reaction, and as you learn over life, that is typically the best factor when making decisions. Well, screw that. I have thought about it for a few days and flip flopped. While it would be cool for the heel to claim his first top belt in WWE (IC Champ and NXT Champ prior), I have pulled back on that.
Not like his pairing with Chris Jericho means much, but it feels like the company wants to keep that going. It has not exactly set the world on fire (in my opinion), so if it is abandoned, I would not really mind. Top solo acts teaming together in the tag division ALWAYS has a short shelf life anyways; they will be broken up at some point, so why bother? Gut reaction was Owens gets the win, rules over RAW as a heel for awhile, is awarded his opportunity to shine in the main event like many want, and it ushers in a REAL "new era" for WWE. As wonderful as all of that sounds, I am not longer wold on it happening...
Seth Rollins: Probably The Winner Except For One Problem... - Yeah, I fully expect Seth Rollins to win the Universal Title on Monday night. He always seems to be hovering around the top of the card, with or without a title. He is the go to guy for WWE right now, especially with Stephanie McMahon (and Mick Foley) running things. There is a reason why Balor was out there with Rollins at Summerslam and no one else. My only problem is two fold.
First, Rollins being a heel champ AGAIN is definitely not a new era moment. It is more of the same from the past two years or so with him coming out, delivering promos, laughing at the fans, and saying he is the best. We have heard that already throughout the second half of 2014, when he won the WWE World Title in March 2015 and even got it a few months ago when he returned from injury. My thought is if WWE wanted him as champion, he would have just won at Summerslam, right? Except...he didn't win, meaning the company didn't have plans for him as champion. That's why he may be a good backup plan, but he isn't THE backup plan...
Roman Reigns: Admit It, You'd Love This Outcome - Yes, Roman Reigns. All roads lead back to Roman Reigns. Whether fans want to admit it or not, he is still considered a main event performer and THE man on Raw. Even the past month or so with Finn Balor crashing the party, guess who was closing Raw? Yep. Guess who had the second to last match at Summerslam? Yep. Guess who beat the United States Champion Rusev clean and didn't even seem to care about the title? Yep. My guess is WWE absolutely intended to go 'all in' with Finn Balor on top, Rollins as his heel enemy, keep the Owens/Jericho thing going, have Reigns defeat Rusev some more, and let the Fall season play out as is.
Well, injuries happen. Kinda difficult to see what Rollins will do now without a lot of great choices on the face side. Sami Zayn? Fought a million times on television already. Big Show? No thanks. Cesaro? In am extended feud with Sheamus. See, my logic is not just for Reigns; it feels like Rollins REALLY needs somebody to feud with right now. Can't be Big Cass (not ready) or Owens (both heels), so that leaves Reigns.
I know, I know. Same 'ol same ol' for RAW. I gotcha and hear the criticism. Sadly, injuries happen and no further than WrestleMania as a big event that gets side tracked due to half the main roster being hurt. Those things are going to come up in WWE (and sports). Your best option is to just take a deep breath, weigh your options, and move forward with your best options. That is Seth Rollins and new Universal Champion Roman Reigns!
Follow me on Twitter - @JustinWatry - $25 WWEShop giveaway underway, must be following to win...