On Saturday night, WWE’s Royal Rumble event kicked off the Road to WrestleMania. And while some may debate the quality of the show – personally, I and the friend who watched it with me – very much enjoyed the show. We really enjoyed both Rumble matches, and all of us were even more enthralled by the main event match between Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens, and the post-match fallout during which the cracks between Sami Zayn and Roman Reigns finally resulted in Sami’s split from the Bloodline faction.
The execution of that post-match angle was perfect, with the crowd exploding after Sami smashed Roman Reigns with a chair instead of using it to attack his best friend Kevin Owens as Reigns had ordered. The resulting beatdown of Sami had the crowd reacting just as strongly, as they hurled “F— you, Roman!” chants at the champion and his relatives.
And while normally this kind of development would logically lead to a one-on-one title match between Reigns and Zayn at WrestleMania, there are plenty of twists and turns that the Road to WrestleMania could take before we get there.
What might seem an obvious choice is to have Zayn and Owens team up and face Jimmy and Jey Uso for their tag team titles at Elimination Chamber, the company’s next premium live event. As that show will take place in Montreal – in Sami and Kevin’s home province of Quebec – them competing for, and perhaps winning, the titles would earn perhaps one of the biggest crowd reactions ever.
What potentially complicates things, though, is that Jey Uso’s loyalties to the Bloodline are potentially in question. During the post-match beatdown at the Royal Rumble, Jey left the ring while Sami was getting assaulted, seeming gripping with inner conflict. What’s even more compelling is that Jey had been the last member of the Bloodline to accept Sami. Their relationship went from major tension between them – one only need recall the legendary “Ucey” promo to see that – to a point where, after Sami’s proven loyalty won him over, Jey was the only one to come to Sami’s defense during his trial on Raw XXX.
Given Jey’s apparent fondness for Sami, would he be too reluctant to fight him at Elimination Chamber? Would he also split from the Bloodline and abandon his brother/partner and the titles? Or would they find an alternative match, like having his younger brother Solo Sikoa – who seems to be indifferent to anyone but Roman – replace him and team up with Jimmy in that match? Lots of questions there.
Or, could they instead go with Sami challenging Roman for the Undisputed Universal championship at Elimination Chamber? Should the company be tempted to actually have Sami with the title there, the Montreal fans would likely riot in celebration like when the Habs last won the Stanley Cup. But is Sami ready for the top spot? Recent internet reports suggest that neither WWE honcho Vince McMahon nor Creative head Triple H see Sami Zayn as the face of the company. Would fan demand change their minds, and potentially their plans, as was done years ago when overwhelming fan support for Daniel Bryan made them change their WrestleMania plans in order for Bryan to win the championship at that event?
Of course, if Sami challenges Roman and loses at Elimination Chamber, there may be a riot for a different reason. If Roman wins in a dominant/clean fashion, then that risks making this eight-month storyline end with a whimper instead of a bang. But if Roman wins with a screw job – a term that will be forever-linked with main events in Montreal – then how will they resolve that before WrestleMania, where Reigns is already scheduled to compete against Royal Rumble winner Cody Rhodes?
Another possibility is that they could split up Roman’s championship into two titles – the WWE Championship and the Universal Championship – like was the case before Reigns unified them. Then, both Cody and Sami could theoretically compete for one of the titles, each one taking on Roman at one of the two nights at Mania. This raises even more questions, though. Should either of them not win their match, that night’s crowd would likely deflate like a punctured balloon – not a great look for the company’s biggest event. But if both win, doesn’t that effectively kill the aura of Roman, who has been booked as virtually unstoppable for the past two years? It would certainly derail the majesty of a future dream match against Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, no?
And what about Owens himself? He certainly fared well against Reigns at the Rumble, and it seemed that he had a chance to win the championship. Does his performance warrant a rematch? Or is his time in the title hunt over for the time being while Sami is in the spotlight? Perhaps he will take on another member of the Bloodline at Elimination Chamber or WrestleMania. Or does his storyline diverge from Sami’s for a little while?
The myriad of possibilities in the weeks ahead could provide viewers with the most compelling storylines the company has had in years. Hopefully that will still be the case when the road comes to an end and the checkered flag is waved at WrestleMania.
TOP PHOTO: Roman Reigns stands above Kevin Owens as Sami Zayn considers his options. WWE photo
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