“The Architect” Seth Rollins has returned to the top of his game. This former world champion has built a mountain of momentum on the road to WrestleMania 35 where he is set to battle “The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship. Rollins has scraped and clawed his way from the upper-mid card of Monday nights back to the number one contender spot for one of the most important championships in professional wrestling. But if he is able to slay the beast on the grandest stage of them all, who will step on and challenge “The Architect” for that big red belt known as the Universal Championship?
1) Drew McIntyre
“The Scottish Psychopath” has been on an absolute tear through the roster of Monday Night Raw. Drew McIntyre has really proved his worth in the ring since his days clowning around while part of the comedy jobber trio 3MB. Ten years since arriving on the scene as “The Chosen One,” McIntyre may finally be able to lay claim to that moniker as Universal Champion. A future championship reign for him seems to be more of a “when” than an “if.” McIntyre absolutely annihilated “The Lunatic Fringe” Dean Ambrose on more than one occasion. And at WrestleMania, “The Scottish Psychopath” is looking to knock off yet another Shield member in the form of Roman Reigns.
McIntyre prides himself as the person who broke The Shield. If Rollins wins the big one this Sunday then it’s only a matter of time before “The Scottish Psychopath” steps up to the plate for a shot at the gold. If he defeats Reigns at ‘Mania, McIntyre would be on a surefire path to the main event of the red brand. He has defeated Rollins in the past and there is definitely enough tension and in-ring chemistry between the two to make for an excellent feud. Although, I don’t see McIntyre immediately knocking off “The Architect” for the gold, I can still see a promising feud in the works that will elevate both men. After a feud with Rollins, McIntyre would make a great candidate for Mr. Money In The Bank.
2) AJ Styles
“The Phenomenal” AJ Styles has done almost everything he possibly can on the blue brand, short of winning the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship. Considering that WWE does a superstar shake-up every year, Styles would be a perfect candidate to jump brands and bring new life into the main event division of Monday nights. A feud between himself and Seth Rollins would be absolutely epic, their matches would metaphorically tear down the house. Their in-ring style matches up almost perfectly. On paper, a feud between Styles and Rollins just sounds like money. Styles has already wrestled all the important players of SmackDown, it’s about time he receives a new set of performers to wrestle. Besides feuding with Rollins, I can see “The Phenomenal One” having notable matches with the likes of Bobby Lashley, Finn Balor, Baron Corbin, Braun Strowman, and Roman Reigns (who would also be a great candidate to switch brands). He’s already captured the top gold on SmackDown twice, maybe it’s time for him to switch his focus to the Universal Championship.
3) Roman Reigns
“The Big Dog” Roman Reigns was technically never defeated for his Universal Championship back in October. Considering the deep level of respect between himself and Rollins, if “The Architect” does slay the beast at ‘Mania it’d only make sense to give “The Big Dog” an opportunity at the championship he had to forfeit. This won’t be a typical good guy vs. bad guy feud, it’ll be a rivalry based upon pure respect and competition. Even though the fans are known to boo the crap out of Reigns on a regular basis, I’m sure they’ll be plenty of the WWE Universe cheering on “The Big Dog” as he fights for the championship he had to give up because of Leukemia. Cancer is certainly a sensitive topic and Reigns’ battle with this disease has certainly touched the hearts of many a fan.
4) Brock Lesnar
“The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar will probably feel naked without the Universal Championship around his waist. He’ll likely be starving to take back the gold and will look to Seth Rollins as his prime target to destroy. The feud between Rollins and Lesnar may just be in its infancy as “The Beast” isn’t so easily slain. WWE has good reason to keep Lesnar fighting for their top prize as he is known to draw a crowd and turn any match into a big money affair. A feud between Rollins and Lesnar could carry into the summer, but don’t expect “The Beast” to work most episodes of Raw or pay-per-views.
5) Finn Bálor
“The Demon” Finn Bálor became the very first WWE Universal Champion back in August 2016 by defeating Seth Rollins in the penultimate match of SummerSlam. Unfortunately, Bálor was forced to relinquish the gold a day later as a result of a shoulder injury sustained in the match. With Rollins as Universal Championship, it’d be a perfect opportunity to reignite an old feud. Bálor could play upon the fact that he won the Universal Championship in his WWE debut against Rollins. A feud between the two would also not be a typical heel vs. baby face encounter, as the crowd will likely cheer both men. Bálor vs. Rollins was a great (though short) feud in 2016 and it could be even better in 2019.
6) Bobby Lashley
“The Destroyer” Bobby Lashley has greatly improved since his first run in WWE over ten years ago. With Lio Rush by his side, he has drawn incredible heat from the crowd that could be greatly utilized in a main event feud with Seth Rollins. Lashley also has the look and physique of a champion that is only rivaled by the likes of Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman. He might even become a duel-champion with the Intercontinental Championship on one shoulder and the Universal Championship on the other. And if he doesn’t win, Lashley would just be another notable obstacle for Seth Rollins to overcome in another entertaining rivalry. Once he advances from the upper mid-card, “The Destroyer” could fit quite well in the main event scenes of either Raw or SmackDown depending on his role in the upcoming Superstar Shake-up.
7) Braun Strowman
Speaking of obstacles to overcome, what bigger obstacle is there on Monday nights besides “The Monster Among Men” Braun Strowman? A victory over Strowman will help solidify Seth Rollins as a legitimate giant killer. Strowman feels as if he’s been screwed out of title opportunities in the past, so it’s only a matter of time before he’d approach Rollins for a championship match. 2019 may just be Strowman’s year to capture the Universal Championship, but I don’t see WWE taking the title off of Rollins so soon. He would definitely put on one hell of a match with “The Architect” and come within inches of capturing the championship gold. Though “The Monster Among Men” may just end up becoming yet another beast for Rollins to slay.
Bonus: Baron Corbin
After witnessing Baron Corbin defeat Kurt Angle for his curtain call match at WrestleMania, I had to go back and edit this article and make “The Lone Wolf” the bonus potential challenger for Seth Rollins’ Universal Championship. Corbin just defeated one of the greatest and most beloved pro wrestlers of all time. Expect him to receive main event tier heat from the crowd as they vent their frustrations with Corbin spoiling Angle’s final farewell. This big win gives “The Lone Wolf” loads of momentum. It’s very likely that WWE will try to capitalize off of this red hot villain by pushing him up the card and further into the spotlight. An eventual feud for the Universal Championship seems to become an obvious outcome for this rising star. But Rollins’ star is even hotter and don’t expect him to part ways with his title so soon.
this article comes to you via Brian Dunlop