Ranking the 5 Best Options to Beat Seth Rollins and Win WWE Universal Title
Seth Rollins kicked off his first reign as universal champion in emphatic fashion at WrestleMania 35 when he beat Brock Lesnar in a matter of minutes. Although his time with the title hasn't been terribly exciting, he's had multiple successful championship defenses against AJ Styles and Baron Corbin.
At Extreme Rules, Rollins and Corbin will face off for the third straight pay-per-view in a mixed tag team match also involving Raw women's champion Becky Lynch and Lacey Evans. Both of the power couple's titles will be up for grabs in the bout, but Corbin and Evans would be the wrong people to succeed them as champions.
Furthermore, with SummerSlam right around the corner, it would be premature for Rollins to drop the strap at what will likely be a filler show. Rather, WWE should have him enter a fresh feud after Extreme Rules and begin building up his newest rival as a legitimate threat to the title.
With Raw's roster as stacked as it is at the moment, there are a handful of Superstars who could make for intriguing championship challengers and realistically relieve Rollins of the prestigious prize. The Architect has been booked fairly strongly as universal champion and thus it'll be a major moment when he is eventually beaten for the belt.
Rollins hasn't exactly lit the world on fire as champion and perhaps losing the title within the next few months to one of the following five competitors could help freshen up both his stagnant persona and the main event scene on Raw.
AJ Styles, the best all-around performer on the Raw roster right now, would have to be considered the smartest choice to defeat Rollins for the Universal Championship at some point.
After accomplishing all he could on SmackDown Live, he took his talents to the flagship show in the 2019 Superstar Shake-up. He immediately set his sights on Rollins' prized possession and earned the opportunity to vie for the title at May's Money in the Bank pay-per-view.
Despite a valiant effort in one of the best bouts WWE fans have seen all year, The Phenomenal One ultimately fell short of beating Rollins. Worse yet, his time in the title picture was short-lived because of an injury he sustained soon after that forced him to step away from the squared circle until just recently.
However, Styles realized during his period of inactivity that something had to change within him if he wanted to be a champion again. That led to him turning heel on Ricochet and reuniting with the rest of The Club last week on Raw, planting the seeds for an eventual rubber match between the two.
Styles may currently be chasing the United States Championship, but the universal title picture is where he belongs, especially now he has gone rogue.
Rollins has been in desperate need of a real rival since his title reign began, and not only would a rematch between these two be as exceptional as their initial encounter, it could well end with Styles avenging his loss to The Architect and taking home the title.
If WWE is still searching for a proper opponent for Rollins at SummerSlam on August 11, Styles is the answer.
Rollins and Samoa Joe are no strangers to one another, having waged war multiple times throughout 2017.
The Architect eked out a victory over Joe at that year's Payback pay-per-view before losing the rematch on Raw two months later, though a rubber match was never held.
Now would be as perfect a time as any for them to rekindle their rivalry with Rollins riding high as universal champion and Joe more dangerous than he's ever been.
Since their first face-off, The Samoan Submission Specialist has held the United States Championship twice and battled (and beaten) the best both brands have to offer.
One night removed from dropping the United States title to Ricochet at Stomping Grounds, Joe shifted his focus to WWE champion Kofi Kingston by viciously attacking him on Raw. The two are scheduled to clash for the title at Extreme Rules on Sunday, but it's far from a guarantee Joe will walk away with the gold.
If Joe is unsuccessful in his pursuit of the WWE Championship, him winning the universal title from Rollins before the year is out wouldn't be a bad consolation prize. Their in-ring chemistry combined with the history they have together would make for a fun feud on Monday nights.
Either way, Joe is due a dominant world-title run sooner rather than later.
There was a time when it looked like Drew McIntyre would be getting the first crack at the Universal Championship coming out of WrestleMania 35. After all, he is the last man to pin Rollins in one-on-one action on WWE TV back in March.
Up to that point, the Scot had been positioned strongly as one of the top heels on the Raw roster. He disposed of Dolph Ziggler with ease at the end of their rivalry, nearly retired Kurt Angle and beat Dean Ambrose into oblivion on multiple occasions.
What reason did viewers have not to believe he was a future world champion?
Somehow, WWE managed to drop the ball with McIntyre following his humiliating loss to Roman Reigns at The Show of Shows. He was eventually paired up with Shane McMahon only to lose to The Big Dog yet again at Stomping Grounds, which didn't help matters, to say the least.
Despite all the bad booking The Scottish Psychopath has endured, there's still a chance his story with Shane-O-Mac culminates with him betraying the McMahon family scion and re-establishing himself as a viable contender to the universal title. From there, he can beat Rollins to become the new champion as well as the most imposing force on the entire Raw roster.
Similar to Samoa Joe and AJ Styles, McIntyre always brings the best out of Rollins whenever they lock up. They could face each other another hundred times and their hard-fought battles would never lose their luster. Raising the stakes by putting gold up for grabs will make their matches that much more exciting.
It may seem like the ship has sailed on Braun Strowman winning the Universal Championship, but hope remains for The Monster Among Men if what he's been involved in the last two weeks on Raw has been any indication.
Strowman has gotten his fair share of shots at the universal title over the past two years, and every time it looked like he was closing in on the championship, he came up short. In addition to his many face and heel turns being confusing to follow, WWE ruined his hot streak by having him lose to Brock Lesnar whenever it mattered most.
As a result, he has spent the better part of 2019 on the sidelines, having won only one pay-per-view match in the last six months against Bobby Lashley at Super ShowDown.
On the bright side, WWE started to heat him up again by having the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal winner put The All Mighty through the Raw stage in a phenomenal feat of strength last week.
It will take time for fans to buy him as a believable threat to the title again, but in the meantime, it's encouraging that the company is taking the appropriate steps to get him back to where he was one year ago. Of course, it would be a mistake to turn him heel at this point, but a Strowman vs. Seth Rollins program over the Universal Championship could still be compelling if done right.
Rollins works well against larger competitors and would thrive off the challenge of stepping into the ring with The Monster Among Men. Strowman's sheer power could be too much for Rollins to overcome, leading to him prevailing as the new universal champion.
This would give Strowman the moment he has long been owed, hopefully to the delight of the audience (assuming they haven't already given up on him completely).
Bray Wyatt has been a hot topic of conversation among WWE fans since the debut of "Firefly Fun House" three months ago. With the weekly shows becoming less frequent, it's safe to assume he'll be back on WWE TV soon.
As entertaining as "Firefly Fun House" has been, it'll be interesting to see how he's booked upon his return and if he'll flounder the same way he has many times before. Then again, it would take a lot for Wyatt to lose the hot momentum he has at the moment, and he should capitalize on it by immediately entering the Universal Championship picture.
Wyatt has history with Rollins from their brief rivalry in the summer of 2017. Interestingly enough, The Eater of Worlds emerged victorious both times they went one-on-one, so who's to say he couldn't beat him again for the universal title at some point?
AJ Styles' recent turn helps bolster the heel side of the Raw roster considerably, but it may not be enough. That's where Wyatt comes in, and with his alter ego, The Fiend, he'd have zero problem posing a threat to the title and being a fantastic foil for the uber-popular Rollins.
Although Wyatt won the WWE Championship in early 2017, his reign was short-lived as a result of being overshadowed by Randy Orton at the time. Beating Rollins for Raw's top title and embarking on a real run as champ would give the mastermind behind the "Firefly Fun House" the opportunity to resurrect his career in a major way and turn the flagship show on its head.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.