For detractors of Roman Reigns, his championship authority, and the possibility that he may face The Rock instead of Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania for the Undisputed WWE Universal Title, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
On Friday night (Jan. 5), Roman Reigns and the Bloodline interfered in a triple threat match to determine Reigns’ next challenger at the Royal Rumble. Subsequently, SmackDown General Manager Nick Aldis notified Reigns’ wise man Paul Heyman that the Head of the Table would instead defend his title in a fatal-four-way match against Randy Orton, AJ Styles, and LA Knight on Jan. 27 at the Rumble.
The Tribal Chief is NOT going to like this... @RealNickAldis just informed @HeymanHustle that @WWERomanReigns will defend his Championship against @RandyOrton, @RealLAKnight and @AJStylesOrg in a Fatal 4-Way match at #RoyalRumble! #SmackDown: New Year's Revolution pic.twitter.com/v0r6BkygHu— WWE (@WWE) January 6, 2024
The decision by Aldis puts Reigns in a situation where he is outnumbered and doesn’t have to get beat to lose his title. That opens the door for WWE to potentially set up Reigns versus The Rock at WrestleMania in a non-title affair, fulfilling its desire to finally host that dream match. It also satisfies fans who wish to see Cody Rhodes challenge for and possibly win the Undisputed gold at the grand event.
That prospect has inspired hope within those wishing to see the Tribal Chief fall and The American Nightmare prevail as a full-time wrestler once again stands atop WWE. But as philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.”
Thus, those desiring such a dream scenario may be torturing themselves. The chances of Roman Reigns losing the Undisputed Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble are slim, nor should it happen. If Reigns is to face The Rock, whether on the Grandest Stage of Them All or possibly the Elimination Chamber in February, it will be for the championship.
Since becoming champion in 2020, Roman Reigns has defeated every superstar put in front of him, which includes present and future Hall of Famers. What he hasn’t done during this impressive run is beat an icon at the level of The Rock. In many ways, The Rock is to Reigns what Andre the Giant was to Hulk Hogan before their clash at WrestleMania III.
In 1987, Hogan, like the Tribal Chief, had been World Champion for three years. He beat every challenger that came knocking on his door. However, his victory over Andre, wrestling’s greatest attraction at that point, in front of a massive crowd on a worldwide stage, solidified Hogan as a legend and all-time great while positioning WWE to be more successful in the months and years ahead.
And he did so as the champion.
WWE and then-owner Vince McMahon could have booked a situation where Hogan lost the title beforehand, but it would have taken the luster away from the match with the Giant. A loss, no matter how it happened, would’ve lessened Hogan’s appearance as a dominant force on par with Andre. And that could’ve impacted ticket sales as a high-profile title fight between two superpowers, which this was, typically draws more money.
And that’s what everything boils down to: money. It’s in promoting such an exhibition — one that Hall of Famer Gorilla Monsoon might describe as the irresistible force meeting the immovable object — that it becomes much more lucrative.
Yes, Reigns could drop the title in a few weeks without getting beat. But that would diminish his presence when compared to The Rock. And that makes their potential match much less appealing, as promoting Reigns as the guy who was an unstoppable champion isn’t as impactful as him being this indomitable champion whom no one has been able to beat.
With the title, Reigns gains additional credibility with those unfamiliar with him and his work. That includes casual bystanders, lapsed fans, and non-fans, the audience that WWE often looks to appeal to when promoting such extravaganzas.
So, at the risk of bursting everyone’s bubble, no, Roman Reigns will not lose the Undisputed title at the Royal Rumble. If anything, as the wicked protagonist in modern WWE lore, the four-way at the Rumble is another mountain that Reigns will successfully climb to bolster his image and legacy, which ultimately will help boost ticket sales and Peacock buys as spectators come in droves to watch him face The Great One.
The irresistible force meets the immovable object for the Undisputed Championship.
And money is the name of the game.