WrestleMania is only days away and while everyone will do their best to capture a memorable moment, the evening will belong to Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar, two enormously physical superstars, colliding for the Universal Championship on WWE’s biggest stage.
It’s a story that has been three years in the making. After winning the 2015 Royal Rumble, Reigns earned his chance to face Lesnar for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 31 and despite what the smarkiest smarks predicted, the match was an incredibly brutal match that felt like a legitimate fight–multiple finishers, painful bumps and even some blood.
Ultimately, Seth Rollins would cash-in his Money in the Bank briefcase to everyone’s surprise and pin Reigns to walk out with the title and leaving no closure for Reigns and Lesnar.
Sure, they have been involved in a triple threat and four way matches the last two years but never in a one-on-one battle. Even though this match has been rumored for a year and the most obnoxious fans cry about predictability (as if WrestleMania has not always had predictable conclusions to stories), it’s a match that we need. It’s the match that needs to close the show. Sorry, Nakamura and A.J. Styles, your build has not come close to being the show closer.
Then there’s the connection the two competitors have with each other in being the only men to defeat the Undertaker at WrestleMania. Reigns seemingly put an end to the “Dead Man’s” career last year in Orlando and Lesnar now returns to the same stadium in New Orleans where he ended the streak to everyone’s surprise.
The build for this match has been a step above the rest. As good as that in-studio interview was to build for their 2015 showdown, this has surpassed it. From Reigns channeling the frustration fans and the locker room have with part-timers to Brock no showing and threats to go to UFC and multiple weeks of beatdowns on Raw. Plus, when you have Paul Heyman as a hype man, how can you not be happy with the result?
There feels like a genuine dislike between the two and you know there will be some real punches thrown. This isn’t going to consist of lots of flips and spots you’d expect in the independents between guys who are 5-foot-9 and weigh 190 pounds. This is a heavyweight bout between a “Beast” that’s a former UFC champion and a very athletic big man that was an All-ACC defensive tackle. As fun as WWE is with its blend of realism and silliness, moments like this need realism and this accomplishes that.
Some will complain about Reigns possibly being in the main event of WrestleMania for a fourth straight year. It’s important to know that it was without a doubt the right call to make in 2015 and 2016 when he was the biggest star and squared off against Triple H in an injury-riddled WrestleMania. However, when it came to his match with Taker, that was more about the Undertaker’s retirement than it was about Reigns.
Lesnar has only lost clean two times since 2013–Triple H at WrestleMania 29 and Goldberg at Survivor Series in 2016. But after defeating Goldberg at WrestleMania last year for the Universal Championship, Lesnar has had his way with the cream of the crop in WWE. He has victories over Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman, pinned Reigns in a four way and even defeated WWE Champion A.J. Styles.
Reigns, on the other hand, has been trying to get back to the top of the mountain after dropping the WWE title at Money in the Bank back in the summer of 2016. He took a suspension, ate losses to Dean Ambrose and Finn Balor, went down to the mid-card with the U.S. title and I.C. title scenes. Now it’s his time–to win the one title that he has yet to win against the monster that no full-time member of the roster has been able to do in years.
Rise up, Roman Empire, this is your time to shine. Three years ago, Reigns defeating “The Beast” was supposed to be his “WrestleMania Moment” before WWE gave in to the Daniel Bryan smarks who hijacked the storyline. But good things come to those who wait.
Reigns not winning didn’t stop the hardcore critics from complaining. These are the same people that will never give credit or acknowledge talent regardless of how Reigns is booked. If they want to rob themselves of being able to enjoy this epic clash, let them.
But the roller coaster that Reigns has been on since 2015, makes this more iconic. It added to what a victory over Lesnar will mean for his legacy and after it’s all said and done, the WWE Universe will know…that’s he’s “The Big Dog.”
And this is his yard now.
Photos by WWE
- WrestleMania will be live from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA on Sunday April 8 and streamed around the world on WWE Network.
- Alexa Bliss will defend her Raw Women’s Championship.
- Triple H & Stephanie McMahon team up to take on Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey, Roman Reigns challenges Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title, WrestleMania will host the first ever “Fabulous” Moolah memorial battle royal and much more.
- WrestleMania is a week-long celebration and will include WrestleMania Axxess, The 2018 WWE Hall of Fame induction Ceremony, NXT TakeOver, Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live all at Smoothie King Center.