Few things in this world are as small as the list of legitimate, relevant talent that any of us could imagine toppling Roman Reigns to claim the coveted WWE Championship in this day and age. If I, or any journalist had written this list out over two years ago we could engage in a long, interesting discussion over which star should be bestowed the honor of defeating the biggest star in professional wrestling.
Nowadays, however, that list is a substantially reduced version of what was once a discussion fans went on about for months. The talent pool is spread out across multiple brands, almost every major name has fallen at the hands of “The Tribal Chief” and it doesn’t seem like any up-and-coming stars possess the value to carry a mantle on that level yet. Debating this issue can swing either way; on one hand, the company has crafted one of its most untouchable champions in history, and on the other, the option available to bring this massive storyline to a conclusion seems to be becoming increasingly difficult.
This doesn’t mean no viable options exist, in fact, that’s the point of this article. To take a look at the realistic options remaining for the legendary title run of Roman Reigns and see which of these stars have the highest likelihood of bringing it to its most satisfying conclusion.
Similar to Jey Uso, this would make all the sense in the world. Solo is part of the most grandiose, long-form storyline wrestling has produced in years. A story that has overtime built into more of a soap opera than anything, making every big moment feel generation-defining and everyone involved turning into a star as a result. While it isn’t without its fair share of hiccups, we’ll always remember it for being one of WWE’s fondest triumphs of long-form storytelling.
At the core of this story though, has been Solo himself. The right-hand man of Roman Reigns, a key to ensuring this championship reign has become what it is, most importantly though, a superstar in his own right. His in-ring abilities have come miles from where they once were. What is most intriguing, is the early planting of seeds to tease this relationship with “The Tribal Chief”. A foundation has been established to finally collapse this grand narrative, leaving Solo the last man standing to take the treasured prize that everyone is chasing.
More work needs to be done to properly establish Solo as a main event-level player, not just the sidekick of WWE’s biggest name. A reign and storyline such as this one require a name that matches the magnitude this has now reached but isn’t an impossible task. If that ambitious goal is achieved, we could be looking at a future WWE Champion down the line. Just not in the near future.
From a storyline perspective, it seems like WWE’s creative team has alternative plans for our current Mr. Money in the Bank over on Monday Night RAW and the World Heavyweight Championship. But this doesn’t completely exclude the possibility of a monumental swerve.
Damian Priest has been one of the company’s most consistent in-ring performers ever since his main roster call-up in 2021. His matches are remarkably consistent (bar an absolutely dreadful product placement-infused contest vs. The Miz), his feuds have largely worked, where he has shined brightest though has been following his heel turn and alignment with “Judgement Day” in 2022. This character change has brought out an entirely new side of him as a performer, one that feels like a true star and a threat to anyone he faces.
While his path hasn’t seen too much of a crossover with the likes of Roman Reigns, a real possibility does exist where, if booked correctly, Priest could pose a viable threat to the industry’s most untouchable force.
The match everyone wants to see. The return so many, including myself have wanted to see just one more time. The key to this entire ordeal feels missing. A match that will only ever happen once (not twice) in our lifetime. Roman Reigns vs. The Rock is without question the biggest match the entire world of professional wrestling can put on right now.
With or without a championship up for grabs, there’s no denying the sheer size this contest could bring should it be made possible. It’s a feud and match that embodies my favorite elements of the industry. A contest that will likely lead into a good old-fashioned brawl, overarching storylines colliding, the past versus the present, and what will likely be the defining match in the career, as well as the championship run of Roman Reigns.
Ranking each of these entrants from most to least likely to actually defeat the current champion for the strap, does change the narrative of this entry quite a bit. The Rock’s chances of securing a WWE belt in the next year or so are increasingly more unlikely than it was a few years ago. As wrestling grows into a new era, so does The Rock’s already megastar career in Hollywood along with his dozens of other business ventures.
Pitting Reigns against The Rock might not be at the top of this list in terms of dethroning necessarily, one could argue that this is the most compelling contest we could possibly ask for when it comes to what we want out of professional wrestling.
It feels like I speak for a very solid portion of the fanbase when I say this is the man who should have walked out of WrestleMania 39 with the WWE Championship around his waist. A select few stories in this industry are as inspirational, and tragic but also enthralling as that of Cody Rhodes‘ path out and back to WWE.
From being an afterthought with a gimmick nobody desires to reflect on positively, to rebuilding his legacy on his own in enemy territory, finally making his triumphant return on wrestling’s grandest stage. It was the fairytale story that many (myself included) thought would lead to one of the most deserving championship victories since Daniel Bryan defied all the odds at WrestleMania XXX.
Yet WWE on that faithful day on April 2nd, 2023, had other plans. It was a heartbreaking roadblock to a story that wrote itself. A tale of redemption and legacy that felt abruptly halted at a time when many were clamoring for some form of change to the main event scene. Despite backlash from fans, critics, and virtually anyone who’d followed Cody’s story, there is some optimism to come out of this scenario.
Not much momentum has been lost on his side. If anything, the character and persona of Cody Rhodes is as strong as we can remember. Each of his matches captures the energy of his character and the man was given the rare honor of pinning Brock Lesnar clean in the middle of the ring. WWE has done almost all the right things since many fans’ dreams were halted a few months ago, seemingly setup a path for us to end up right where we thought it finished.
Admittedly nothing in professional wrestling is certain, as we have learned the hard way. The reality and possibility of Cody Rhodes dethroning Roman Reigns to become WWE Champion is alive and well. If there’s a single wrestler who is more deserving of that privilege than him, you’re probably lying to yourself.
Who do you think will dethrone Roman Reigns? Let us know in the comments below.