Brock Lesnar has held the WWE Universal Title for over 340 days now. Does it really matter than the “Beast Incarnate” holds such a distinction?
Old school professional wrestling dictated that the world champion or the regional title holder appear on television weekly and either defend the strap or cut a promo to entice fans to come out the arenas, gyms and fairs where matches were held. Today’s business has gotten away from the “rules” of engagement. The title has no real meaning since it is not visible on a weekly basis.
The contenders fighting to face Lesnar for his strap, which in this case is Roman Reigns, is more important. I remember Gordon Solie once saying the man chasing the title is in a better spot than the one wearing the 10-pounds of gold. His words are more prophetic than ever with WWE in a pickle as to what happens at WrestleMania 34. Will Reigns take the title, which will get a lukewarm reaction from the crowds in New Orleans, or will Lesnar win, which will infuriate the fans if Braun Strowman does not walk into Raw the next night and obliterate the champion and his advocate, Paul Heyman.
The company that has allowed Lesnar the part-time schedule and given Reigns one more push created this situation. Strowman is the hottest thing going on the men’s side of the locker room and he isn’t part of the title picture. Something just isn’t kosher.
It seems Lesnar isn’t going anywhere and wants to remain part of WWE for a longer period of time. As Marc Middleton of wrestlinginc.com writes, “Regarding speculation on WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar returning to UFC once his WWE deal expires after WrestleMania 34, Dave Meltzer reported in The Wrestling Observer that from within WWE, it appears that Lesnar is very interested in staying with WWE and that officials expect the same “photo finish” that they had a few years back when his deal expired and a decision was made right before or after his last date.”
For some fans, that’s news to their ears – as long as he drops the title to either Reigns or Strowman. For others, it’s a continued opportunity to despise how the company has booked the Universal Title for almost the past year.
There are a few scenarios that could develop from WrestleMania 34. Reigns could win the title and turn heel, which would delight the fans. Lesnar could win and then hibernate until SummerSlam, dropping the title to Strowman. Strowman could beat Lesnar after New Orleans and Heyman could jump ship, siding with the “Monster Among Men.” Or, in a move many may not see, Samoa Joe could eventually return to the ring and take the title off Reigns, joining forces with Heyman which sets up a feud with Strowman.
The key here is the Universal Title must become a fixture of Monday night television.
WWE has done a good job with SmackDown Live to feature AJ Styles and the company strap on a weekly basis. While he does not defend the title every time he steps in the ring, just walking into the ring with the belt on his shoulder is enough of a statement for fans to support their favorite wrestler. For now, fans don’t have a connection to the Universal Title. A change of champion could help – but it must be the right champion to walk into Monday nights and woo the fan base.
There is a little less than a month until WrestleMania 34. WWE still has plenty of time to change the direction of booking. Nothing, however, will change Lesnar’s part-time status. As long as he still holds the title and Reigns is the heir apparent, an opportunity is lost. The company did a solid job with its recent Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. Lesnar wasn’t needed then. But he is needed now. He must become a fixture each week on televisions leading up to April 8. If not, the championship Raw claims is so value is nothing more than a belt with a cause.