What's Next for Roman Reigns After Beating Drew McIntyre at WWE Clash at the Castle?
By the skin of his teeth—and with some help from Solo Sikoa—Roman Reigns remains your undisputed WWE universal champion, successfully retaining over Drew McIntyre in Cardiff, Wales.
Clash at the Castle was a major hurdle to overcome, particularly with Austin Theory's Money in the Bank cash-in an extra looming threat, but The Tribal Chief has both titles firmly in his possession and a new ally to help back him up in The Bloodline.
Effectively, while beaten up, Reigns is coming out of this stronger than ever.
But when you're at the top of the food chain, everyone beneath you is still looking at you as their ultimate goal. Reigns has no shortage of challengers eager to take those belts from him.
So what's next for The Head of the Table?
Fallout from Clash at the Castle
The next immediate thing will be taking a step back to address what happened in Cardiff. WWE usually gets part of, if not a full episode, out of recapping those events and promos about the champion successfully retaining his title.
Much of the focus will be on McIntyre explaining his loss and reiterating his promise to not stop vying for the title, how he blames Sikoa for interfering and will be seeking payback.
Reigns will be there as a presence, but not the main player. The Usos and Sami Zayn will be much more active and hands-on with Sikoa, wrestling in any tag team matches that may come out of this, in particular.
The Tribal Chief will take a back seat. Even if his next challenger is declared, significant attention will still need to be on Sikoa so he doesn't get lost in the shuffle. That will also allow WWE some breathing room to not overexpose Reigns before the next title match.
When Is the Next Title Defense?
It is highly unlikely Reigns will be wrestling any time sooner than October 8 at Extreme Rules.
Though Friday Night SmackDown has its fair share of important matches here and there, Reigns typically doesn't wrestle at all on television, let alone in a title defense with a pay-per-view just around the corner.
If he wrestles at all, it will be in a tag team match or something that limits him.
There's even a chance he sits out Extreme Rules, after skipping a few premium live events earlier this year. However, with Paul Heyman being the spokesperson for this show's advertisements, WWE is at least marketing The Bloodline's involvement.
Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia is two months away, set to take place November 5. Since those are paid shows that require the biggest names to appear, Reigns will definitely compete there.
Extreme Rules could be headlined with McIntyre against Karrion Kross in a No. 1 contender's match or McIntyre with some teammates against The Bloodline in a gimmick match, rather than Reigns defending the title. It would be a cop out, but WWE's done similar things this year.
At the very least, Reigns isn't going two full months without putting his belt up for grabs. Either at Extreme Rules, Crown Jewel or both shows, he'll need a challenger.
Who Will Challenge Next for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship?
Deciding who gets the next match against Reigns will take up the next few weeks of SmackDown, if not stretch past Extreme Rules.
A rematch with McIntyre isn't outside the realm of possibility, but The Scottish Warrior would need to first plead his case that he deserves it due to the interference, then likely win some sort of contender's match to officially re-earn the opportunity.
Kross is counting down the days—literally—to when he can take his shot. He won't sit by idly and let others cut in front of him in line.
The only other Superstars hovering the title scene and interacting with The Bloodline are Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. The latter is still sucking up to the faction and hasn't quite realized how low on the totem pole he is, but his best friend is starting to open his eyes.
There's always a chance WWE surprises audiences with a shocking return like Bray Wyatt or Braun Strowman, who could go straight for Reigns and fight him at Extreme Rules, but the safer bet is on McIntyre, Kross, Owens or, to a lesser extent, Zayn, being the next challenger.
To avoid having two heels against each other, WWE might set up a Triple Threat with Reigns against McIntyre and Kross at Extreme Rules, before moving on to a special attraction guest challenger for Crown Jewel who comes in for one night only or returns to action later in October.
The Next Big Tentpole Event: Survivor Series
WWE might not have everything up until WrestleMania 39 planned out for Reigns at this particular moment, but there at least should be a general idea of what he's doing for the next tentpole "Big Four" show, Survivor Series.
Judging by the graphics, the Raw vs. SmackDown brand warfare is set to continue, but with a few twists.
Normally, on top of the Team Raw vs. Team SmackDown men's and women's elimination matches, each brand's champions goes up against their equivalent title-holder. Intercontinental champion Gunther will fight United States champion Bobby Lashley and so on.
While holding both sets of titles, Reigns and The Usos have no parallel champions. They'll either not be having those types of matches or will just have regular challengers like any other event.
Whoever hasn't already been used between McIntyre, Kross, Owens and Zayn will have the title shot, lose, and allow Reigns to stand tall above both rosters, assuming Theory hasn't messed things up in the meantime.
Finishing out this year will be a break for part of December while WWE sets up whoever challenges Reigns for Day 1, tying that into Royal Rumble and kicking off The Road to WrestleMania 39, which all seems to be building toward a match with The Rock.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, Spotify and everywhere you find podcasts. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.