7 Wrestlers for WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns to Feud with Long-TermMarch 12, 2021
7 Wrestlers for WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns to Feud with Long-Term
Roman Reigns has been riding high as the Universal champion since August and is arguably the best thing going in WWE today. Heading into WrestleMania 37, he's doing some of the strongest work of his career and has everybody on SmackDown hot on his heels.
In the last two months alone, he has made enemies out of Kevin Owens, Edge and Daniel Bryan. Even WWE official Adam Pearce has been caught in the crosshairs at times and has expressed interest in giving Reigns his comeuppance.
Barring any untimely injuries, it's safe to say Reigns will have a place at the top of the card for the foreseeable future. Regardless of whether he emerges from WrestleMania with the gold still in his grasp, he has become the focal point of the blue brand, and for good reason.
Thankfully, there are still so many people he has yet to feud with that his current character is bound to have a long shelf life. Even those he has crossed paths with can continue to chase his championship, as he's proved to have exceptional chemistry with just about everyone he's interacted with.
Long-term, these are the seven Superstars who will ensure Reigns' run as Universal champion is as must-see as possible. Greatness is virtually guaranteed with each one of these feuds based on the history The Tribal Chief has with all of them.
Reigns and Daniel Bryan have such a rich history that WWE can revisit this rivalry at any point and it can still be exciting.
In fact, Reigns' first feud in WWE as part of The Shield was with Bryan when he was in Team Hell No. Reigns' debut match at TLC 2012 against the trio of Bryan, Kane and Ryback was considered an instant classic, largely thanks to Bryan's involvement and the chemistry he had with Reigns and the rest of The Shield.
It wasn't until 2015 that they formally feuded following Reigns' Royal Rumble victory. Fans were so behind Bryan at that time that they rejected Reigns as a result, meaning The Big Dog can basically blame Bryan (in storyline) for the beginning of the backlash he received for years on end.
Every match they've had over the last decade has been excellent, and their upcoming encounter at the Fastlane pay-per-view on March 21 should be no exception. The only issue is that the outcome isn't much in doubt because of WrestleMania 37 being so soon after, but going back to this bout post-WrestleMania is an option as well.
Bryan has never been able to beat Reigns in a standard singles match by pinfall. Thus, there will always be a reason for Bryan to be fighting for Reigns' Universal Championship and pose as the perfect foil for his heel tyranny.
Although it hasn't been mentioned recently on WWE TV, Shinsuke Nakamura is still waiting in the wings for his rightful opportunity at the Universal Championship.
The King of Strong Style had a stellar showing in the number one contender's Gauntlet match on the January 8 edition of SmackDown, only to be outsmarted by Reigns and company. It effectively turned Nakamura face for the first time in almost three years and seemed to set him up as a future opponent for Reigns.
Although the Royal Rumble shot ended up going to Kevin Owens, Nakamura made it clear with his win over Jey Uso the next week on SmackDown that he still had Reigns in his sights. Despite that, he was left out of the Elimination Chamber conversation and wasn't in consideration for a title opportunity at Fastlane.
Nakamura has instead been slotted at the Intercontinental Championship level, which would have been fine had he not teased feuding with Reigns. At this stage of his career, he belongs in the main event picture and now is as good of a time as ever to make that match happen.
Once WrestleMania season is over, it's imperative Nakamura steps up and challenges Reigns for his prized possession. The Tribal Chief can even acknowledge that it was he who Nakamura eliminated from the men's Rumble in 2018 to earn a WWE Championship matchup at 'Mania that year.
Nakamura wouldn't necessarily need to win the title, but it would be a nice way for WWE to finally give him his moment after all these years.
Despite not being a current member of the SmackDown roster, Drew McIntyre should absolutely be considered a future foe for Reigns and a threat to his Universal Championship.
Similar to others on this list, there is no shortage of history between Reigns and McIntyre. When the two originally collided during WrestleMania season two years ago, the roles were reversed, with Reigns as the babyface and McIntyre the heel.
The two matches they had at WrestleMania and at Stomping Grounds were surprisingly subpar, but their latest clash at Survivor Series 2020 was far more exciting thanks to the different dynamic. It was arguably one of WWE's best bouts of the year and ended in a win for Reigns following interference from Jey Uso.
Fans knew as soon as it was over that a rematch was in order. It wasn't in the cards for WrestleMania 37, but even if they remain on opposite brands for the next year, they can still run it back in time for next year's installment.
With the way they've been booked lately, Reigns and McIntyre are undoubtedly WWE's two biggest stars at the moment. Another high-profile program between the two on a stage as grand as WrestleMania is inevitable.
Although they're currently slated to go one-on-one at WrestleMania 37, Reigns and Edge can continue to feud well beyond The Show of Shows given how well they've worked together up to this point.
The story for their 'Mania match writes itself: Edge wants back what he never lost, while Reigns is the seemingly unstoppable champion standing in his way of achieving that dream. Edge's mic work has been on another level since returning, and Reigns has been firing on all cylinders as a heel, so it's no surprise they've made magic every time they've come in contact with each other.
The two exchanged spears shortly before Elimination Chamber, and that was what prompted The Rated-R Superstar to choose Reigns as his WrestleMania opponent following his Royal Rumble victory. Their bad blood has been put on the back-burner heading into Fastlane, but expect the rivalry to rev up again in the weeks preceding WrestleMania.
Regardless of whether he wins at WrestleMania, Edge should remain on the SmackDown roster. He was synonymous with the blue brand prior to his retirement and the babyface side could use additional depth.
Edge is the ultimate opponent for Reigns at the moment, and a series of matches over the Universal Championship in the remainder of 2021 would be welcomed. That could entail Edge capturing the title at 'Mania only to lose it right back to Reigns at the next pay-per-view, but either way, this should be a long-running rivalry.
Of everyone on the current WWE roster, Seth Rollins knows Reigns better than anyone. While they haven't crossed paths in some time, it's more a matter of when and not if they'll do battle again, especially now that they find themselves on the same show for the first time in two years.
That isn't to say they haven't had their fair share of scuffles already. Following the split of The Shield, they briefly feuded in late 2014 before running it back over the WWE Championship in the summer of 2016.
Both were babyfaces from that point forward but still waged war on occasion from 2017 to 2019. They've been positioned as the two top heels on SmackDown since Rollins' return at the Royal Rumble, but Rollins will revert back to his babyface roots much sooner than Reigns.
It won't be for some time, but that eventual Reigns and Rollins feud is bound to be money. Rollins thrived as a babyface when working with the right heels, and Reigns' current character is one he would have outstanding chemistry with.
Rollins hasn't held world title gold since October 2019 and is going to want a crack at that championship held by Reigns before long. WWE needs to save that storyline for down the road when it means as much as it should and to give it the proper creative attention it deserves.
One year ago, the idea of Big E challenging Reigns for the Universal Championship seemed far-fetched. It wasn't that he wasn't capable of big things, but rather he had been firmly positioned as a tag team player for so many years and nothing suggested WWE was interested in featuring him on his own.
It took Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods getting hurt in the summer of 2020 for WWE to experiment with Big E as a singles star, and he immediately flourished. He stacked up several impressive wins over The Miz, John Morrison and Sheamus before securing his second Intercontinental Championship on Christmas night.
His current rivalry with Apollo Crews over the title has made for terrific television, but Big E shouldn't be long for the midcard scene. Once he is free and clear of that championship, he should be in contention for the Universal title soon after seeing as how he'll be fully ready for the main event by that point.
The seeds for a Big E vs. Reigns rivalry have been planted on Talking Smack in recent months, with Paul Heyman teasing that Big E could be a threat to Reigns' title. Of everyone on this list, Big E is the freshest face and therefore has the best chance of unseating Reigns as champion when the time is right.
Big E's success story as a singles star has been fun to follow for the last year, but it won't be complete until he's wearing world title gold around his waist, and The Head of the Table would be the perfect person for him to take it from.
The recent singles push for Cesaro on SmackDown has given fans faith that WWE has finally realized what they've had with him all along. It isn't guaranteed to last, but as he makes the most of every opportunity he's given, the more likely it is he'll be a mainstay toward the top of the card for longer.
For the past month, he's been embroiled in a rivalry with the returning Seth Rollins, who he's expected to face at Fastlane next Sunday. That will probably pave the way for Rollins vs. Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania, but where that would leave Cesaro is unknown.
Ideally, WWE can work Cesaro into the match and make it a Triple Threat, if only to keep his momentum rolling beyond WrestleMania season. A win over two top talents there could set him up for a feud with Reigns over the Universal Championship, something that Cesaro has been clamoring for for many months.
There's plenty of history to explore there between Cesaro and his former manager Paul Heyman, who serves as the advocate for Reigns. Furthermore, Reigns' has had some of his best bouts with Cesaro, and those two would certainly kill it if they were to face off at a pay-per-view.
If the groundswell of support for Cesaro continues, he could—and should—be looking at an eventual opportunity at Reigns' coveted title.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.