The Heavy Opinion - Who could possibly dethrone the Tribal Chief?

In his first article for Real Rasslin, Hev asks the question "Who can dethrone the Tribal Chief?" and gives us his opinions on who could be the top candidates for the job moving forward as Roman Reigns continues to lead the Smackdown Roster at the Head of the Table.

The Heavy Opinion - Who could possibly dethrone the Tribal Chief?

Hi everyone, today in my first article for Real Rasslin I wanted to tackle a relevant opinion piece on the current state of the Universal Championship scene on Smackdown, and who could possibly dethrone the Tribal Chief when his time with the Blue Belt comes to an end.

Since Roman returned and defeated Bray Wyatt for the title he has been on a tear. Roman has been doing the best work of his career since his days with The Shield. Roman suffered for such a long time by being Vince McMahon’s personal pick to be the new positive poster boy for the company as John Cena’s time started to slow down. The fans blatantly rejected Roman in the spot and gave him major heel heat every time he appeared in the ring and on TV. Who would have thought all it would take for Roman’s career to really take off was to let him be what the fans wanted him to be?

WWE have let Roman roll with it, and he has done some stellar work as a heel on the blue brand. They paired him with Paul Heyman and the Uso’s which gave us The Bloodline. Roman has used The Bloodline to stay at the top of Smackdown’s roster for over a year now, but not only that he is putting in some awesome work in the ring, it’s as if this more brutal and heelish side of Roman has brought out the absolute best in him. For the first time in as long as I can remember, WWE have created a truly memorable heel champion who is not your usual Monster who comes in and cleans house, or your usual cowardly cheating heel. Roman has added layers to his character and in doing so has become the best thing WWE has going today.

While WWE have booked Roman so strong, on the other hand they have in a way booked themselves into a corner in my opinion, because by placing so much attention on booking Roman in such strong fashion they have really neglected to create that same strength in any future contenders that could fathomably take the belt off him down the line. Let’s be honest, Roman Reigns will more than likely hold the belt until Wrestlemania and we’ve all heard rumours about a possible match with The Rock, but if that’s going to happen then it really doesn’t need to happen for the Universal Championship. The Rock vs. Roman Reigns is a marquee Wrestlemania Match, a match like that does not need the title involved, so before that can possibly happen WWE need to take the Universal Championship off Reigns to free him up for a once in a lifetime match. 

Since Roman has won the belt, he has defeated everyone thrown at him in impressive fashion. Bray Wyatt, Kevin Owens, Braun Strowman, Cesaro, Rey Mysterio, John Cena and most recently Finn Balor, have all failed to defeat Roman for the belt. Roman even defeated Edge and Daniel Bryan in the same match at Wrestlemania this year before retiring Bryan some time later. Roman has taken on all challengers and defeated each one of them. Up next, he faces Brock Lesnar for the umpteenth time at Crown Jewel, because of that I do not see Brock winning the title and to be honest he really doesn’t need to either. In their lengthy rivalry, Lesnar has come out on top more than Reigns and Roman really needs to win to keep things even and to continue establishing himself as the dominant Tribal Chief we have all become accustomed too. 

So, this begs the question…

Who will eventually defeat Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship?

WWE just recently conducted their Annual Draft, and there were quite a few changes to both main rosters. Smackdown seems to have faired less but in saying that has managed to score such names as Drew McIntyre, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Jeff Hardy and Sheamus. All these men are great in their own right but by looking at their recent histories, Drew McIntyre seems like the only viable option to take the belt off of Reigns, and while that is great as he has proven to be a great main event talent, it is also a negative as it creates major predictability in the main event scene. Specifically, this would be around who will be at the top of the card as the flagbearer of the blue brand, which is something you don’t really want on a constant basis. Yes, we need stability when it comes to creating a viable main event player, especially a dominant one like Reigns, but we also need that unpredictable element where we as the fans watching the product think that whoever is challenging for the title actually has a significant chance of winning the belt in believable fashion instead of just feeling like it’s a formality until WWE decide to pull the trigger and take the strap off of The Tribal Chief.

So, what I am going to do is run down a list of names as well as some other thoughts on how WWE can get around this issue and not only take the belt off Reigns in believable and satisfying fashion, but also create an equal in the main event scene of Smackdown in the process.

Drew McIntyre: Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. Drew McIntyre is the obvious choice to take the strap off Roman currently. He is a two-time WWE Champion, he headed up RAW’s main event scene for such a long time. Drew needed to be drafted to give him some fresh feuds and match ups moving forward. While I feel that his face work is becoming stale and that they are leaning too much into his Scottish heritage, he has history with Reigns. The two men are on opposite sides of the table now and this adds a twist to the rivalry and matches between the two in 2021 and beyond. WWE won’t turn Drew now he has made the move over to the blue brand, he will be pushed as the brands top face which makes him the perfect foil for the Tribal Chief and the most obvious pick to take the belt off him eventually. 

Brock Lesnar: I know what I said above but we are heading into Crown Jewel and the Saudi shows have a history of pushing the big names and nostalgic names within the WWE Family. We did see Goldberg defeat Bray Wyatt for the Universal Championship some time back, Brock doing the same would not be out of the realm of possibilities. Out of all my picks here in this article I really hope this does not happen. Brock doesn’t need the championship and Reigns losing it to Brock does nothing for everything they have built with Roman in the main event spot. Reigns losing the belt has to be a big deal.

Jeff Hardy: With Hardy’s high-risk style throughout his career, he has wowed fans for over two decades inside the squared circle, which has got to take its toll on one’s body. Jeff is no longer a young man and a run at the top of the card on Smackdown would be a great era in the twilight of his career. Jeff has experience as a World Champion in more than one promotion, he has the fanbase and he can still go. He would need to be booked strong, give him a series of wins to push him up the card and a big win to make him a contender. A great example would be to have him win a Smackdown vs. Raw Survivor Series Match as the sole survivor for Team Smackdown. This would be a great way to give him a title shot, especially heading into the last Pay-Per-View of the year, TLC. Having Jeff face Reigns in a TLC Match would add some much needed unpredictability to the match. Jeff was one of the men who pioneered the TLC Match and made it a cornerstone of the WWE, this would give him an edge over Reigns and really make the fans wonder if he could pull off the win and upset the Tribal Chief. That match type gives freedom for Reigns to go full on beast mode and it also gives Hardy the chance to pull out all the stops and give the fans an epic spot filled match and a call back to the prime of his famous career.

Kofi Kingston: With Kofi being in the King of the Ring tournament this could be a great opportunity to get him back into the main event scene. While the King of the Ring is not the illustrious spectacle it once was, it can still be used as a platform to get talent over and provide them the opportunity to move up the card. Kofi is a more than logical choice to win the tournament, he has the main event experience and the guy can go in the ring. The fans loved his underdog rise to the top of the card and win over Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 35. While Kofi had a decent run as Champion, it ended in such a disappointment with Lesnar mauling him in quick fashion for the win. The fans would totally get behind a Kofi King of the Ring win that would lead into a main event program for the Universal Championship. With Kofi’s recent history as a main event Champion this could add an element of doubt when facing Roman for the title, plus you know if Reigns has the Uso’s behind him that Kofi has Big E and Woods to back him up if need be.

Xavier Woods: The only member of the New Day to not get elevated up the card and win a WWE or Universal Championship. Woods winning the King of the Ring Tournament, by going over Kingston in his journey to win would be a great moment. You know the New Day love and respect each other and are always there for one another. Woods going over Kingston, then winning the whole tournament would be such a feel-good moment. While he may not have the main event experience that Kingston has, he would provide Roman with an entertaining rivalry heading into a Universal Championship program. We have seen New Day members overcome the odds before, this could plant in the mind of the fans a question of "What If Woods can do what both Kofi and Big E have done?". Plus, like Kofi, if Woods was in this position facing off against Roman and the Bloodline, you know the rest of the New Day would have his back. Woods may not be the logical choice to dethrone Reigns, but it would be an interesting feud and match, plus stranger things have happened.

As you can see, I have my obvious choices and I have some out of left field choices there. While I wouldn’t hate McIntyre or Lesnar winning the title, I just feel that Lesnar especially doesn’t really need it and I’d like to see someone fresh, or an outside contender take the belt off Reigns after a great push to the top of the card. While they are not mentioned the likes of King Nakamura, Cesaro and even Sheamus would be great outside choices to dethrone the Tribal Chief. They would provide some entertaining matches no doubt and would give Roman individual challenges, but ultimately at this time they would require a decent amount of work to get them into a position to be considered as a viable threat to the Tribal Chief’s spot at the Head of the Table.

At the end of the day, I am sure WWE has a plan in place, and it will either make perfect sense or it will profoundly disappoint fans. One thing is for sure, in my humble opinion, is that they have their work cut out for them. The choices I have picked are but only a handful of the talent on offer. If anything, WWE has proven in the past that they can be unpredictable, but they’ve also proved then can be greatly disappointing when it comes to the payoff for a huge angle. There is no doubt about it, Roman’s time at the top of the heap on Smackdown is a huge angle that deserves a huge payoff, I just hope he gets that and his hard work as the Tribal Chief has not been all for nothing.

This is Hev signing off on the Heavy Opinion, Cheers!