The universal championship while being the richest prize in the game has most definitely had its ups and downs. It started with Finn Balor who would burst on to the scene as fast as he would fade away. The demon king would win the championship and would be forced to forfeit it the next night on RAW due to injury. This ultimately lead to Kevin Owens winning the title and holding on to it for 190 days. From there, the title would go to Bill Goldberg and then to Brock Lesnar. Nowadays it is easier to find Waldo than it the universal championship.
At some point, during the history of professional wrestling, the WWE had a 30 day title defense rule. It is a rule that is obviously self explanatory and it means that whoever holds a title cannot go more than 30 days without defending. It was what had Naomi forfeiting the Smackdown woman’s championship back in February. This note must have never made it to the desk of Paul Heyman or his client Brock Lesnar. As of this writing, it has been 39 days since the beast incarnate won the universal championship.
Now I know that this isn’t the first time that it has taken more than 30 days for a champion to defend his title. It really is a rule that is non existent or simply used for their convenience (See Naomi above). With that said though, not only has Brock not defended his title, he hasn’t even been included in television. When RAW finds itself in the current situation that it is now in, the lack of the biggest title in the game is evident.
It was known from the moment Goldberg was handed the universal championship on the evening of March 5th that the title would be off of WWE programming for a while. Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg being penciled in for WrestleMania 33 only furthered that point. So, from March 6th until today the title has only been defended twice. That is two title defenses in just 66 days. In those 66 days, the universal champion has been present on RAW on just three occasions. Three appearances in 66 days has left fans in a state of unrest.
This isn’t the first time that WWE officials have done this sort of thing but that doesn’t mean that their idea hasn’t lost its luster. Social media is a major barometer for waves of change within the WWE universe. It starts slow but the eventual momentum rivals that of an avalanche. As folks make the social circles on Monday nights, it is becoming more and more apparent that fans are growing weary of RAW without a top champion. It has Brock Lesnar looking like less a fearless champion and more like a deadbeat.
This growing sentiment is only gaining more momentum with the news of the Braun Strowman injury. This past Monday evening, news started to circulate throughout social media circles that the monster among men was about be be out for approximately 4-8 weeks. The runaway train that was Braun Strowman has now stopped and those folks riding that train have transferred to the ‘we need a champion at RAW’ train.
This isn’t an insult to the IC title program as Ambrose and the Miz have done great things. That being said though, RAW is in desperate need of a universal champion. The show is beginning to take a noticeable toll. The show was able to carry on when Braun was flipping ambulances, breaking rings, and wheeling masked wrestlers around in dumpsters but now, something will need to be done. Vince McMahon should open his checkbook and make a call to Minnesota to ask Brock what will it cost to have his champion show up on his show. Maybe Vince could really open his wallet and get Brock to appear at Extreme Rules.
Rumor has it as per PWstream on twitter (whom you can follow by clicking here) that Finn Balor is being considered as the replacement opponent for Brock Lesnar at the (goodness gracious) Great Balls of Fire. They also went on to say that Roman Reigns would likely move into a short term program with Bray Wyatt.
What this writer wants and what we will get tend to be two different things. That isn’t always a bad thing but in this situation I think it is ever apparent that WWE should put the championship on Finn as soon as possible. This would put the universal championship back on WWE programming. It is a step that will set the Strowman/Brock program back for a few months but the Strowman injury has forced officials into that corner anyhow.
There is a way this can be worked out while still reaching the ultimate goal for WWE officials. I’ll preface this by saying that reports have been out there that the WWE would like to do Reigns vs. Lesnar for the title in the big easy for WrestleMania 34. I know you’re groaning but I can only solve one problem at a time here. Anyway, the title can be moved from Lesnar to Finn Balor at Great Balls of Fire. This would set up the rematch between the beast and the demon for SummerSlam in Brooklyn. At this point, Braun Strowman should be more than ready for make a return. With all of that mind the WWE would be in a position to resume their previously planned feuds.
The ‘win and leave’ way of using the top title in the game has run its course. It might be time for Vince to adapt to cries of the fans on this particular issue.
During a Finn/Lesnar SummerSlam match, we could get a run-in by Bray Wyatt that would cost the demon king his title. The Balor and Bray feud would then be off to a white hot start while Lesnar would be champion again. Braun Strowman can then make his triumphant return the night after SummerSlam to finish what he started. He can demand that title match from the beast that everyone is clamouring for. So from the fall season until WrestleMania time the universal championship will then revolve around Strowman,Reigns, and Lesnar.
Click here for our piece on how WWE should handle the Bray Wyatt & Finn Balor feud
Lesnar can remain in the title picture while the title still remains relevant on WWE programming. Everybody wins and WWE officials stay on their path of a Reigns and Lesnar WrestleMania program. The point of all of this is to get the title back on programming as soon as possible. Lensar will not become a weekly fixture on WWE programming but this is a good way to make people happy.