WrestleMania 39 and Triple H’s Biggest Challenge

Triple H has already done a lot to bring back some credibility to the WWE product, but the road to WrestleMania will bring his biggest challenge yet, Brandon Bethune reports.

Ever since Vince McMahon’s resigned in disgrace last August, the creative takeover of WWE by Triple H has instilled a sense of hope, excitement, and optimism into a suffering product for the first time in a long time.

This hasn’t come without its challenges, however. For every return and fun PPV, there’s been an Austin Theory cash-in or a Dexter Lumis, but largely Triple H has been given the benefit of the doubt for improving the vibes around WWE’s product. However, Triple H will soon be facing his biggest challenge, with the Road to WrestleMania on the horizon and the small task of deciding who faces the Undisputed Universal Champion, Roman Reigns.

Reigns’ stranglehold on WWE’s top strap(s) has seen him steamroll all possible challengers in his two years atop the mountain, and his main event battle at Clash at the Castle with Drew McIntyre presented the first real, viable option for Roman to lose his belts.

Despite being divisive at the time, the decision has since proved to be the right one but has in turn only added more fuel to the fire of the central question. Who is the man, and when is the moment, to dethrone ‘The Tribal Chief?’.

The answer to the latter question has, of course, been WrestleMania. WWE’s historic ‘showcase of the immortals’ is and should always be the go-to answer for any moment as momentous as Roman Reigns’ two-year plus title reign coming to a close. The answer to the former question, though, is a lot more complicated.

For years, all the talk about WrestleMania 39 has been about Roman Reigns vs The Rock.

The change in company regime from Vince to Hunter won’t (and arguably shouldn’t) change that. It’s a major money match, in The Rock’s home turf of Hollywood, that has actual storyline reason for being outside of ‘legend returns for payday’.

The entire ‘Head of The Table’ run for Roman Reigns has led up to this WrestleMania match with The Rock, which as long as The Rock can fit into his busy schedule, absolutely HAS to happen. Is The Rock the man to beat Roman Reigns for the belt though? Definitely not.

This is where the dilemma lies. Triple H’s new WWE has been about change, some gradual and some immediate. From name changes and unbanned words to superstar returns, longer matches, and character rejuvenations, the positive vibe around WWE has been all about that key word, change.

Roman Reigns going into a third straight WrestleMania as world champion in a match against an opponent you know isn’t winning that title, no matter how good The Rock is, sounds like a bit of a stale ‘Mania main event. Fans haven’t reacted too well to these instances in the past, with fresher options being overlooked in turn for a big name, leading to very sour responses. This move could send the discontent into overdrive, especially if the two other options to dethrone Roman are completely ignored.

The first is none other than Cody Rhodes.

Ever since his triumphant return against Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 38, Cody has been seen as THE guy that could ultimately dethrone Roman, and it’s not hard to see why.

A returning hero after rebuilding his career in AEW, mixed with his desire to win the WWE Championship for his family in what would present an interesting dynamic with Roman, fans anointed Cody as their choice to win the title off of Roman.

Cody going out of action following his rivalry with Seth Rollins made it even more abundantly clear in fans’ eyes that he was the one, with a returning hero story obvious, similar to Daniel Bryan.

Cody returning to win the Rumble and then beating Roman is a great story, but can arguably be done at a later time, whereas the Reigns v Rock showdown is on borrowed time due to the Hollywood star’s age and schedule. However, The Rock’s availability isn’t clear so maybe you go with Cody as a failsafe, because Seth is getting over massive as a babyface US Champion, so perhaps pushing Cody against him will do him more harm than good.

This is all speculation, that gets even further complicated when you add Sami Zayn to the mix.

Through sheer force of will, Sami Zayn has thrown his hat into contention to be the man to beat Roman Reigns. Perhaps the unlikeliest option of the three, but the fan favourite has provided some of the best moments in his role as an honorary Bloodline member.

The tension with Jey Uso and the manipulation of Roman Reigns looks set to reach its boiling point as Survivor Series approaches, and the eventual split will undoubtedly lead to a monster Sami Zayn babyface turn. Triple H has shown how to book Sami Zayn as an impeccable babyface before, and he’s doing it all over again here.

A reunion with Kevin Owens and a subsequent tag title win over The Usos would be just as satisfying a conclusion to this story, but the thought of Sami taking on Roman in Montreal at Elimination Chamber for the gold seems too good an option to pass up.

What the problem seems to be, and it’s a good problem to have, is that WWE seems to have too many viable contenders to Roman at once, with WrestleMania the logical destination for each story’s conclusion.

Triple H has some tough choices to make ahead of his first WrestleMania in charge. Whatever choice Triple H makes, it will be the most important of his creative run in WWE so far.

In choosing between each of the three options, Triple H has the chance to either alienate his audience, like his predecessor, and ruin the goodwill surrounding the product, or a chance to completely change the game by simply doing something different.

Part of the mission statement for Triple H’s WWE so far, has been (somewhat superficially) undoing some of Vince McMahon’s various tropes and pet projects. Case in point: the Austin Theory cash-in.

However, there is one more Vince project that Triple H is yet to dismantle, and that is Roman Reigns as a double champion.

Beating Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 38 to become the Undisputed Universal Champion, Roman Reigns reached the zenith of WWE and took with it both brand’s world titles.

There have been conflicting reports regarding WWE’s future intentions with Roman holding both titles, with WrestleVotes reporting Triple H was open to all options ahead of Clash At The Castle. So if Triple H is to continue his trend of dismantling Vince McMahon’s WWE in favour of his own vision, splitting the World Titles back up may be the option to go for.

Leave a Reply