Goldberg vs. Reigns Makes Sense, Riddle Isn't Main Eventer Yet, More Quick Takes
The aftermath from the Royal Rumble last weekend has certainly shaken up WWE's road to WrestleMania, for better or for worse.
It was revealed on Friday's SmackDown that before Brock Lesnar will come calling at WrestleMania 38 and Roman Reigns will first have to face off with Goldberg for the Universal Championship at Elimination Chamber. Although the WWE Hall of Famer has well overstayed his welcome, it's a marquee match that makes sense for the Saudi Arabia event.
That Feb. 19 show will also see the WWE Championship defended with one of the combatants being Riddle. Contrary to what recent rumors have suggested, the former United States champion isn't remotely ready for that type of push, at least this close to WrestleMania.
Over on the All Elite Wrestling front, the company could be bringing in former WWE upstart Keith Lee sooner rather than later. He'd be joining a roster already stacked with stars, though AEW must be careful to not let him get lost in the shuffle as several other newcomers have in the last year.
This installment of Quick Takes will tackle Lee's possible future with AEW, how MJF's massive win over CM Punk should be followed up, Big E taking a step backward with his return to SmackDown and more.
Goldberg Is the Perfect (and Only) Opponent for Reigns at Elimination Chamber
Twitter will tell you that most WWE fans have grown tired of seeing Goldberg be brought back for an occasional match, especially when he's prominently featured in a top program and is handed title shots for no rhyme or reason.
The internet's disdain for the WWE Hall of Famer is certainly justified, though through no fault of his own. His matches have been hit or miss these past few years, but WWE largely deserves the blame for how he's been handled and the positions he's been put in.
With all of that being said, Goldberg challenging Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship at Elimination Chamber is the perfect way for him to close out his career—assuming this is indeed it for the 55-year-old in the ring.
The two were originally scheduled to go one-on-one for the title two years ago at WrestleMania 36 before Reigns pulled out of the pay-per-view for safety precautions. Oddly, WWE waited a full two years to revisit the rivalry, but Reigns makes as much sense as anyone to be Goldberg's final opponent ever.
Reigns has beaten a laundry list of former world champions during his historic run as universal champion. Even if their bout isn't the best, every single fan will be on the edge of their seat out of fear that the 500-plus-day reign could be in jeopardy of ending, and that sort of suspense is usually impossible to capture.
AEW Must Ensure There's a Plan in Place for Keith Lee Upon His Arrival
The newlywed Keith Lee officially entered free agency at the beginning of the month, and every wrestling company should be in hot pursuit of his services.
Of the many people WWE has cut from the company in the last two years, Lee was one of the biggest bungles of them all. This was a world champion-caliber competitor that it let slip right through its fingers, though its loss will soon prove to be another promotion's gain.
All signs sure seem to point to the former NXT champion being picked up by AEW. Several stars who have departed WWE since 2019 went on to call AEW their home and have found success, while others have unfortunately fallen by the wayside.
That's exactly why AEW must ensure there is a definite plan in place for Lee if it does wind up acquiring him.
Andrade El Idolo and Jay Lethal both came into AEW with plenty of fanfare in 2021, but neither has made a meaningful mark on the roster. The Limitless One is too talented to be underutilized any longer, so if he is AEW-bound in the near future, it's imperative the company use him accordingly and not sign him simply for the sake of doing so.
Big E Returning to SmackDown Is a Significant Step Back for His Singles Run
In a random roster move last week, Big E was inexplicably shifted to the SmackDown roster over from Raw. He reunited with Kofi Kingston to defeat the duo of Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss and then Los Lotharios on this week's episode.
If those two matches were any indication, the singles push for Big E has come to an end, just one month removed from losing the WWE Championship to Brock Lesnar at Day 1.
It's entirely possible WWE gives The Powerhouse of Positivity a one-off opportunity at Roman Reigns' Universal Championship in the spring, but fans shouldn't be holding out hope he'll be involved in a major singles match at WrestleMania 38. It's more likely he'll be back in the tag team ranks with Kingston full-time for the foreseeable future.
The decision to put Big E back on the blue brand was not a wise one. Big E had just moved over to Monday nights in October's WWE draft, and because he was away from the rest of New Day, he was able to establish his own identity and have success as a singles star.
On SmackDown, there isn't much for him to do or accomplish aside from rekindling his rivalry with Reigns, which would probably end in another win for The Tribal Chief. Someone such as AJ Styles would have been better suited on SmackDown than Big E at this point, but either way, the lack of explanation regarding the roster moves has only further devalued the brand split.
MJF Must Score a 2nd Straight Win over CM Punk at Revolution
CM Punk and MJF have been embroiled in a war of words for months, and this past Wednesday on Dynamite, they finally put the mics aside and let their in-ring abilities do the talking.
It was an excellent main event that told a strong story and featured fantastic performances from both men. Ultimately, it was MJF who had his hand raised, giving him the biggest win of his career to date.
The fact it all went down in Punk's hometown of Chicago made the moment that much sweeter.
Needless to say, their bad blood is far from over. It was a risky move by AEW to put its first-ever one-on-one encounter on free TV instead of waiting until the next pay-per-view, but it was necessary in keeping the feud fresh.
With Revolution right around the corner on March 6, a rematch is in order, and MJF should absolutely win then as well.
Punk loses nothing in defeat, and it helps MJF more than it hurts Punk. The end game should be getting MJF back to AEW World Championship contention and winning the title from Adam Page, so this program should be designed to do just that.
MJF pinning Punk on Wednesday night was the right call. Giving him that second straight victory over The Second City Saint would truly take him to that next level.
Riddle Isn't Ready to Win the WWE Championship Yet
This year's men's Royal Rumble was among the most boring Battle Royals WWE has done in years, but the one thing it did have going for it was its logical outcome, no matter how predictable it may have seemed.
Brock Lesnar winning made sense from a storyline standpoint given the long-running rivalry he's had with Roman Reigns dating back to SummerSlam. There had been conflicting reports on whether Riddle was at any point considered to come out on top, but outside of the shock factor, it would have been way too soon for that to happen.
Riddle has been a recurring highlight on Raw alongside Randy Orton for the last year, though he's been portrayed as a complete goof for their entire time together. His skills inside the ring are undeniable, and in due time he could be a world champion, but nothing WWE has done with him lately indicates he's ready for that push just yet.
This stems from a report from WWE insider Twitter account WrestleVotes that revealed some members of WWE Creative were in favor of Riddle vs. Orton being for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 38. A one-on-one match between the two at the event would be welcomed now that they've lost the Raw Tag Team Championship, but it's nowhere near being on the level of the WWE title.
Riddle should have a strong showing inside the Elimination Chamber, but to crown him champion at this stage would be premature and detrimental to his development long-term.
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.