WWE has made it perfectly clear what path it wants to take at the upcoming Fastlane pay-per-view now that Goldberg will challenge Kevin Owens for the Universal Heavyweight Title.
I said I see the direction this was headed – I didn’t say I had to like it.
Once again, it looks as if the company that wants to give fans something new and exciting is reversing and will count on a part-time performer to walk into WrestleMania 33 with the title strapped to his waist before he encounters another battle with Brock Lesnar.
There are some problems that come to mind in making this kind of match at Fastlane work. While we suspect there to be shenanigans with Owens’ BFF Chris Jericho at ringside, the thought of the current champion lasting longer in the ring than two spears and a jackknife power bomb would further hammer home the notion that Lesnar isn’t the immovable object he once was. Does anyone believe Owens could withstand more punishment than the Beast Incarnate?
The other problem I foresee is the title being held hostage by Lesnar or Goldberg as part-time performers. WWE did not do well in selling The Rock and Lesnar as viable WWE Champions while they were on hiatus from the ring. Either one will walk out of Orlando with the strap and then what?
Who’s Next? Braun Strowman? Samoa Joe? Roman Reigns? Maybe Rusev? Those four men are the only performers I can see taking back the championship and legitimizing it once more. Anything else is a sham of the worst kind.
WWE must think its fans would support yet another attempt at a half-assed championship reign. There are already issues with Owens’ inability to win a match cleanly and on SmackDown Live, it would appear John Cena’s 16th world title win will be short-lived as well. The company has pretty much set its WrestleMania card in motion with Owens and Jericho, Lesnar and Goldberg, Reigns and Undertaker and possibly Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton. There are plenty of other puzzle pieces that will fit. The Lesnar/Goldberg match sells itself (with the aid of Paul Heyman). The notion of the Universal Title up for grabs kind of takes the shine off the potential barroom brawl. If this is indeed the final match between the two “beasts,” then build it up like the Battle of Atlanta between Tommy Rich and Buzz Sawyer. There were no titles, just bragging rights.
In this case, less would certainly be more.
I stand by my opinion that WWE did a solid job with the Royal Rumble, and it looks like it will follow through with a great card at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view this weekend. I still need to wrap my head around the idea of Goldberg winning the Universal Title and furthermore, I hope there is justification in anything more than a three-minute match. The McMahons have impressed me before by proving they know what they are doing, but it will take a WrestleMania-type moment to convince me this is best for business.
I just don’t think this path is going to lead the company to the goal it wants to achieve.