The 6 WWE Stars Who Could Dethrone Roman Reigns in 2022April 13, 2022
The 6 WWE Stars Who Could Dethrone Roman Reigns in 2022
Roman Reigns has reached a point in his dominant run as universal champion where he feels virtually unbeatable.
Since capturing the title almost 600 days ago, The Tribal Chief has run roughshod over the entire WWE roster. The likes of Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, John Cena, Edge, Rey Mysterio and many more have all fallen victim to his ruthless reign.
As brilliant as his booking has been, there must come a time where Reigns gets his comeuppance and loses the belt. WWE has thankfully resisted the urge to have him suffer his first defeat since 2019, but looking at the landscape of Raw and SmackDown, a case can be made for it happening around SummerSlam season.
Coming out of WrestleMania 38, there are several Superstars who have a legitimate shot at being the one to dethrone The Head of the Table. The rules of the brand split seem to have eased and Reigns is able to defend the belt on both brands, which creates more options as well.
Now that he's hit his peak and doesn't have much left to conquer in his current reign, his days as Undisputed WWE Universal champion are undoubtedly numbered, and any one of these six names could take the titles from him before the year is through.
Cody Rhodes' rumored WWE return was always expected to be a big deal, but no one could have imagined the moment being as perfectly executed as it was at WrestleMania 38.
The former All Elite Wrestling executive came off as a top-tier talent at AT&T Stadium in Dallas despite never being positioned as anything more than a midcarder during his original run with WWE.
On the subsequent edition of Raw, The American Nightmare made his intentions clear of wanting to win a world title in honor of his late father, Dusty Rhodes.
Rhodes doubled down this past week on Raw when he told The Miz that his sights are set on the prestigious prize. Although he'll have his hands full with Seth Rollins at WrestleMania Backlash, the seeds have been planted for a future face-off between him and Reigns.
At this point, The American Nightmare should be considered the front-runner to beat The Tribal Chief for all the gold. It would have been unfathomable even a few months ago, but with the way he's been booked since 'Mania, he has a serious shot at fulfilling his destiny and becoming champion.
WWE may not have been responsible for making Rhodes the star he is today, but the least it can do is capitalize on his current momentum by pushing him to the moon.
A win over Reigns would establish Rhodes as main event material and ensure he stays at that level.
Reigns went undefeated on pay-per-view for a solid stretch of two years before finally losing to Seth Rollins by disqualification at this year's Royal Rumble.
Granted, he still walked away as the universal champion that night, but Rollins technically had his hand raised in victory despite not pinning or submitting The Tribal Chief.
Going into the event, The Visionary boasted about how Reigns could never beat him whenever it mattered most. That claim remains true, though The Tribal Chief doesn't seem to be too concerned with righting that wrong at the moment.
WWE inexplicably dropped the feud without paying it off properly. Rollins' string of losses in recent months has only made him that much more desperate, so WWE must revisit this rivalry and have one of them win decisively at some point this summer.
Reigns retaining is the likelier outcome, but Rollins came closer than just about anyone else to ending his title run in January. If WWE wants to cement his seemingly inevitable face turn, having him be the one to take the Universal Championship from The Head of the Table would accomplish that.
Rollins won his first two WWE titles by pinning Reigns, and the same could soon be said for his third.
Speaking of unfinished business, Drew McIntyre also has a score to settle with Reigns.
The two had a series of matches in 2019—including one at WrestleMania 35—which were all won by The Big Dog. They rekindled their rivalry in a battle for brand supremacy at Survivor Series in 2020, and although it appeared the Scot had the match won, Reigns emerged victorious thanks to interference from Jey Uso.
It wasn't until October last year that they found themselves back on the same show, with McIntyre being drafted to SmackDown. He started feuding with Happy Corbin almost immediately upon arriving on the blue brand, so they have yet to cross paths again.
McIntyre bested Corbin at WrestleMania 38 to put that rivalry to rest, and now he's able to enter Universal Championship contention at any time. That said, it would be best to save his colossal clash for later in the year when it would mean more as opposed to a random PPV such as WrestleMania Backlash or Hell in a Cell.
Interestingly, WWE announced on Tuesday that the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales will host a PPV this September. That would be an ideal time for McIntyre to avenge his many losses to Reigns and regain the gold on his home turf (of sorts).
The Scottish Warrior has yet to win a world title in front of fans, and that crowd would surely explode if he ended Reigns' run almost two years removed from when it began.
Believe it or not, Reigns was only the second star AJ Styles feuded with in WWE, and even more unbelievable is the fact that was six years ago.
Styles rising up the ranks as quickly as he did in 2016 took everyone by surprise, and it led to two terrific back-to-back bouts between him and The Big Dog at Payback and Extreme Rules, respectively. Both were won by Reigns, but The Phenomenal One's stellar performances earned him plenty of credibility in defeat.
For whatever reason, WWE never had them interact again after that, at least not in a one-on-one capacity. Part of that was due to the two of them always being on separate shows, and while that's currently also the case, Reigns holding both the WWE and universal titles renders the brand split irrelevant for the time being.
Styles has had several shots at the top titles in recent years, but November 2018 was when he was last WWE champion. In other words, he's long overdue and there can be no doubt he has at least one last great reign in him before he calls it a career.
Similar to McIntyre, Reigns is the one name Styles has never defeated. Thus, it would be a spectacular story if he ended the record-setting reign of The Tribal Chief.
For as much as Reigns has evolved into one of the best in the business these past few years, the same can be said for Bobby Lashley.
The All Mighty went from being just another guy on the main roster to a recurring highlight on Raw throughout the pandemic period. He and the rest of The Hurt Business made those shows watchable and provided fans with plenty of quality entertainment.
Prior to his shocking return on the Raw before WrestleMania 38, Lashley was last seen at Elimination Chamber in February. It was there that he suffered a storyline concussion and had to be removed from the match despite never actually being beaten for his WWE Championship.
It may no longer be in the possession of Brock Lesnar, but Reigns is an equally exciting opponent for the former champ given their history. They first faced off in the summer of 2018 and split singles wins against each other, so a rubber match with both belts up for grabs is needed.
Lashley has successfully transitioned into a babyface role and is now flying solo but is expected to be dealing with Omos and MVP for the foreseeable future. Once that runs its course, he should target Reigns and give fans the clash of titans they've been waiting for.
From a sheer size and strength standpoint, The All Mighty is as legitimate of a threat as they come.
In the span of six months, Bron Breakker has taken NXT by storm and is well on his way to attaining WWE superstardom.
From winning the WarGames main event to capturing the NXT Championship twice, his NXT stint has been a resounding success so far. He got a taste of the main roster when he teamed with Tommaso Ciampa on Raw in March and regained the NXT title on the post-WrestleMania Raw last Monday.
There's still room for improvement as far as his in-ring and work and mic skills are concerned, but beyond that, he has all the tools necessary to be a cornerstone of the company once he gets called up. He could well be main roster-ready by SummerSlam on July 30, and having him challenge Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship right out of the gate would be massive.
Whoever unseats The Tribal Chief as champ should benefit hugely and have their star status solidified. WWE can easily make a name out of Breakker if he's responsible for handing Reigns his first loss in nearly three years.
It would be understandable for fans to feel like he's being rushed into the spotlight, but as with Brock Lesnar 20 years ago, there may not be a reason to wait to pull the trigger on him as a main event player.
Fresh faces are desperately needed on top, so if the opportunity arises with Breakker, WWE would be foolish not to take it.
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.