The partnership with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman seems to be on the verge of ending
Brock Lesnar faces Roman Reigns in a WWE pay-per-view main event once again this month – but this time the match is filled with several layers and sub-plots.
By far the stand-out one concerns Lesnar and his apparent discontent with life at the company and a desire to return to UFC being writ clear in giant letters.
Both of those factors were double underlined on an episode of Raw this week in which Lesnar cut a figure which was equal parts bored and frustrated with WWE.
So, is the time right to take the Universal title off him and put it on Reigns – who had the fans chanting his name in Raw’s final moments – in Brooklyn on August 19?
As is always the case, it’s a lot more complicated than that…
If Roman Reigns wins
The logical and obvious outcome is rarely the one which comes to pass. Look at the WrestleMania match between these two for proof; Reigns’ long-predicted coronation did not happen and instead the Beast prevailed amid rumours of the result being changed during the match.
There is still resistance among the fans to Reigns as champion – while he was getting chants on Monday night, it is worth noting the event was in his native Florida, where he has traditionally been well supported.
If he is to now get the title it has to be with a twist and it would make perfect sense to make him full heel. Have Reigns win the title by nefarious means and he can feud with several Raw babyfaces – Finn Balor, Braun Strowman etc – before putting him in a long-term program with Seth Rollins which culminates in an epic WrestleMania match.
If Brock Lesnar wins
The Beast walking out of the Barclays Center with the championship gold also makes sense. The ‘absent champion’ storyline is a unique one and continues to both divide opinion and create debate among WWE viewers and fans.
On the rare occasions when Lesnar appears on television he feels like a big deal, a fact supported by his positioning once again in the main event of a huge pay-per-view.
So a strong case can be made for him continuing to hold the title. And if you throw in the potential ‘cross-sport’ appeal of WWE having their champion walk into a UFC event to challenge for that title, in what would be an unprecedented move, the argument for Brock staying on top becomes even more convincing.
The Paul Heyman question
Possibly the only thing which did become clear on Raw this week was that Paul Heyman’s days in partnership with Brock Lesnar appear to be numbered.
Lesnar’s apparent boredom with all things WWE extends as far as his advocate, who saw his phone smashed and his pride badly dented as The Beast got physical with a man who has been by his side for the past four years.
One possibility could be that Reigns becomes a ‘Paul Heyman guy’ and wins the title as a result of his outside interference. The theory holds some water – Reigns is very good on the mic but Heyman is at an elite level, and would bring him a huge degree of heat.
If Lesnar leaves WWE, one bonus side effect will be that Heyman will be on television more often, and that is a very good thing.
The Braun Strowman/Kevin Owens question
And then there’s Braun. Or maybe Kevin. Either way, someone will be lurking in the Barclays Center shadows with the Money In The Bank briefcase at SummerSlam.
Owens tried to steal the little green case on Monday night and cost Strowman a count-out loss to Jinder Mahal in the process, but it will be on the line when the two do battle on August 19.
The briefcase was immediately used in a storyline by Alexa Bliss on the night she won it and if WWE want to keep either Lesnar or Reigns looking strong, they could have them lose to a cash-in after a gruelling match at SummerSlam.
If the already massively-popular Strowman beats a freshly-minted heel Reigns for the title it would elevate him to the absolute top tier of babyfaces in the company and see his popularity surge through the stratosphere.
WWE SummerSlam is live on Sky Sports Box Office at 12am on Sunday night, August 19.