Even though Roman Reigns walked into WrestleMania 39 as the top champion in WWE for well over two years, many wrestling fans were still surprised when he beat Cody Rhodes in Hollywood and retained the undisputed WWE Universal championship.
As a result of that victory, Roman’s title reign is going to reach 1000 days later this month at Night of Champions in Saudi Arabia. A lot of people are wondering how WWE can possibly stretch this out for another year. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s actually quite easy to get Reigns to WrestleMania 40 with his championship intact.
The key to this whole thing is that Roman Reigns is a part-timer who doesn’t have to defend the belt all that much. He’s been on this limited dates contract for roughly one year now, so we have a good idea of what his schedule looks like.
Let’s rewind one year ago (to just after WrestleMania 38) and look at the list of challengers who WWE lined up for Reigns to defeat on his way to WrestleMania 39, in chronological order. Here are all of Roman’s title defenses during that time (house shows excluded):
- Matt Riddle (SmackDown in June 2022)
- Brock Lesnar (SummerSlam 2022)
- Drew McIntyre (Clash at the Castle)
- Logan Paul (Crown Jewel 2022)
- Kevin Owens (Royal Rumble 2023)
- Sami Zayn (Elimination Chamber 2023)
- Cody Rhodes (WrestleMania 39)
Reigns defended the title seven times, including the WrestleMania match with Cody. In order to get Roman Reigns to WrestleMania 40 as champion, all we need to do is find seven opponents.
With that in mind, here are five possible challengers that stand out to me on the new SmackDown roster:
- Bobby Lashley
- AJ Styles
- Jey Uso
The top three names on this list have yet to challenge Roman for the title during the last 1000 days, so I definitely expect they will fall to the Tribal Chief.
Edge already had a one-on-one PPV match for the title against Reigns and might be retiring by the end of the year, so he’s not a lock for a rematch. Jey Uso has also challenged for the title, but that was at the very beginning of Roman’s title reign. The current story arc of escalating tension within The Bloodline can certainly lead to a viable rematch.
I see four or five of the required seven title matches right there. I’m going to also go ahead and pencil in Seth Rollins as the WrestleMania 40 opponent, because Seth is the one guy who Roman actually failed to beat during these 1000 days. That gives me five or six of the challengers I need.
After that, it’s not hard to come up with one or two more names. WWE’s dream scenario is still landing The Rock for a match with Reigns next year at WrestleMania, which I can easily make room for by pushing Seth’s title match up to Royal Rumble. If not The Rock, there are other celebrities or part-timers who might be in the mix, such as Bad Bunny or even Conor McGregor.
Maybe Cody Rhodes wins Money in the Bank and uses it to announce a title rematch with Reigns in advance of a major show. Perhaps Bray Wyatt returns to WWE at some point and goes right after Roman. Could Braun Strowman be traded back to SmackDown and receive a push? Maybe
Baron Corbin Omos uses his free agent status to get a match with the Tribal Chief. If none of that works out, Roman can always have two title matches against the surer bets like Lashley or Styles.
The point is, as long as Roman Reigns stays healthy, it’s pretty easy to fill out a list of the next seven wrestlers who will lose against him in title matches, and that’s all you need to get him one more year on top.
In my mind, we have reached the point where Roman is not going to drop the title at any non-WrestleMania event. WWE didn’t create a new World Heavyweight Championship on Raw just to have Roman lose the other titles this summer.
Who knows, maybe Bron Breakker is the most likely wrestler to beat Roman for the title, and we might be talking about WrestleMania 42 in that case.
How do you map out Roman’s next year (or two) as WWE Universal champion, Cagesiders?