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Has Roman’s reign as WWE Universal Champion reached its endgame?

We’ve been in the 3rd inning for a while now, folks.

Actually if we’re being honest with the baseball analogies, the Bloodline’s domination over Friday Night SmackDown has been in a rain delay ever since Roman Reigns took a leave of absence and left the wiseman Paul Heyman in charge.

For weeks we’ve watched Heyman become more and more disheveled as Big Jim Uso and Solo Sikoa ignored the rules of the house and did whatever they so pleased. Turning SmackDown into their own personal playground. All the while, Heyman looked on like the helpless babysitter who was desperately praying for the kids’ father to walk through the front door.

Well, the fun is over children. Daddy’s back home and it’s time to clean up the mess that was made while he was gone.

The mess being the crop of new (and old) challengers that have lined up to get a shot at the Head of the Table.

For well over three years the Tribal Chief has reigned supreme over WWE. First as its Universal Champion, and ever since WrestleMania 38 in Dallas, as it’s Undisputed WWE Universal Champion.

1139 days and counting with no end in sight. Until now?

While the quantity of his title defenses may not be as vast as some would like, over the last year plus, there’s no arguing against the quality of his opponents.

WWE has done a tremendous job of building up credible challengers ahead of their biggest Premium Live Events. Or at the very least, taking the temperature of the crowd, and riding the hot hand a la Sami Zayn.

I can take it all the way back to Drew McIntyre at Clash at the Castle. Roman’s had the Universal Title for over two years at that point. The Scottish Psychopath is wrestling in front of thousands of his countrymen. First major stadium show in the UK in decades. Cleary WWE HAS to give Drew his moment to win the Championship in front of the fans.

Nope. Solo Sikoa debuted and Roman smashed Drew in the UK.

That’s ok. Sami Zayn is hottest babyface since another certain red head took over the entire industry back in 2019. Elimination Chamber is in his hometown of Montreal. That crowd is going to be electric. Clearly WWE HAS to have Sami shock the world and create a moment that will stand the test of time.

Nope. Roman wins.

No worries, no worries. They didn’t give Sami his moment in Montreal because the plan has been all along to anoint Cody Rhodes in the main event of WrestleMania 39. Kudos to Triple H. He devised a plan and he stuck to it. Rhodes is CLEARY going to finish his story in Los Angeles and finally win the Title his father never did.

Wrong again. The reign of terror continues.

At this point fans were, justifiably, pissed. Until the rise of Main Event Jey Uso! Roman CLEARY will want to put over a member of his own family and help make a new star. YEET!

To be fair. He did do those things, but he did so without losing his WWE Universal Championship.

Four different times in the past year WWE has presented fans with a challenger that many believed HAD to be the man to dethrone Roman Reigns. That’s four of his last six opponents, by the way.

I’m here to tell you, they’re about to do it to the WWE Universe once again — starting with LA Knight.

You can’t argue with what LA Knight said last night. It is his game and he is the fasting rising Superstar on SmackDown. You cannot go to a WWE event without hearing chants of “YEAH!” inside the arena, outside the arena, and in the downtown area of what ever city the show happens to be in that night, hours before the doors open.

The man is hotter than a firecracker. LA Knight takes over whatever city he’s in and he has more than earned this opportunity to step up to big dog.

Friday night was a great first test for Knight’s ascension to the main event scene. There will be plenty of opportunities for he and Roman Reigns to get into some epic verbal sparring contests ahead of their inevitable physical showdown for the title. This show however, was all about LA Knight passing the eyeball test and he did so with flying colors.

Knight felt like he belonged in that ring, standing right in between two of all-time greats in Reigns and John Cena. Nothing felt awkward or forced. There was no square peg in a round hole type situation as we’ve seen with some Superstars in the past.

As he has done time and again these last few months, Knight proved there’s no spot too big for him.

Unfortunately for fans of the Megastar across the globe, WWE already foreshadowed his fate when it comes to challenging for the WWE Universal Championship and they did it with a stare down six months in the making.

Many people wondered why Cody Rhodes would care enough about Jey Uso that he would ‘cash in all his political chips’ to keep him in WWE and bring him over to Monday Night Raw. After all, he was one of the men who cost him the WWE Universal Championship.

This is why.

Cody Rhodes is many things. A dummy is not one of them.

Ever since his loss to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 39, The American Nightmare has been on a raft in the middle of the ocean. Floating further and further away from the Island of Relevancy. He found his way back to mainland by throwing a lifeline to Jey Uso.

That’s right. You cannot convince me otherwise. There’s no doubt in my mind that, all around good guy, Cody Rhodes had ulterior motives when he made the move to save Jey Uso’s WWE career. He knew getting involved with Bloodline business, would eventually put him on a collision course with the Head of the Table once again.

That’s the story I believe WWE is telling with Cody Rhodes, and I hope those motives come to light and become canon one day.

Jey Uso is already about to go down a rocky path on Monday Night Raw, now that we found out his trade compensation. New SmackDown GM Nick Aldis made it a priority his first night on the job to complete the trade involving Jey, by acquiring Kevin Owens for the Blue Brand.

This is most assuredly not going to sit well with one man in particular. The same man who was the first person to welcome Jey Uso to Monday Night Raw with open arms - Sami Zayn.

How receptive is Zayn going to be with Jey moving forward, now that his mere presence cost Sami his best friend and tag team partner? Not to mention the fact that Sami now has to watch Jey carry around the two Tag Team Championship belts that he was personally screwed out of, while he laughs it up with his new drinking buddy Cody Rhodes.

How long is Sami going to be able to hold on to that resentment before it boils over? How long before he reveals his beef with Jey Uso, and by association, the American Nightmare?

Now imagine at the height of this conflict with Sami Zayn, Jey Uso discovers the true intentions behind Cody’s actions that brought him to Raw.

Oh, the betrayal. Oh, the drama. Oh, the options.

Triple H has done a masterful job of setting up options surrounding his top players right now.

  • Roman Reigns vs. L.A. Knight.
  • Jey Uso vs. Sami Zayn
  • Cody Rhodes vs. Sami Zayn
  • L.A Knight and John Cena vs. Cody Rhodes and Jey Uso
  • John Cena vs. Solo Sikoa
  • Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa vs. Cody Rhodes and Jey Uso
  • Cody Rhodes vs. Jey Uso
  • Jimmy Uso vs. Jey Uso
  • Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes

Where does Kevin Owens fit into the equation now? What about AJ Styles once he’s back from his storyline related injury? What about The Rock?

We’re still CLEARLY getting The Rock at WrestleMania 40, right?

After what we’ve seen play out of TV this week, I don’t think so. I have to give credit to my good friend SP3 who brought up two scenarios to me last night.

• Either WWE got the call from the Rock this week that he’s decided against competiting at WrestleMania 40, or...

• The Rock vs. Roman was Vince McMahon’s match, and now that Triple H has full control, WWE is back on the path to finishing the story.

Who doesn’t love some fun reckless speculation?!

All I know for sure, is that Reigns vs. Rhodes II is going to happen. That stare down did not happen for nothing, folks.

The question isn’t if that match is going down, it’s a question of when is it going to go down.

Smart money, right now, has to be on April 7 in Philadelphia.

If you look closely enough at SmackDown last night, you’ll see Roman’s path through WrestleMania season (as plans stand now), as it was laid out right before our eyes.

My theory, and granted it’s gonna be a popular one, is we see Roman Reigns vs. L.A. Knight in Saudi Arabia, some form of Tribal Warfare (WarGames, maybe) at Survivor Series, AJ Styles get his shot at the Tribal Chief at the Royal Rumble and then the epic rematch with Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania 40.

Clearly... if this turns out to be the case... than Cody Rhodes HAS to beat Roman Reigns in the rematch right? Right?!

I’ll say this much. If we’re not in the end game now, than we may be in the 3rd inning for a long, long time.

You can follow Rick Ucchino on Twitter and subscribe to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcast Channel for more of his work.

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