This past Monday on Raw, Kevin Owens won the WWE Universal Championship thanks to Triple H in a moment that really felt like a new beginning for WWE’s flagship show. Finally, WWE’s “new era” can begin.
What comes to mind right away are all of the interesting matches and rivalries that will come as a result of the shocking twist that put Raw’s most valuable title in the hands of Kevin Owens.
In case you missed it, check out my weekly Raw Reaction feature here on The Comeback looking at what happened. The short version is that after Big Cass was eliminated, Triple H returned, hit Roman Reigns with a Pedigree, had Seth Rollins eliminate him and then Triple H turned on his old ally Rollins with a Pedigree for him too. Hunter told Owens to cover, so he did and Owens left with the WWE Universal Title. There was so much to talk about that I had to write another column this week reacting to what took place.
Before I begin by talking about the future, it’s interesting to note that Triple H helping Owens does feel like a bit of a replay.
At SummerSlam 2013, Triple H was the referee when Daniel Bryan beat John Cena for the WWE Championship. After the win, Triple H hit Bryan with a Pedigree. Randy Orton walked in with the Money in the Bank briefcase, cashed in, pinned Bryan and became the heel champion along with Triple H to start “The Authority” angle.
In June 2014, Seth Rollins turned on Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns as a way to break up the successful Shield group. It was “Plan B” as Triple H called it. Shortly after that, Triple H had his Authority ally Kane help Rollins win the Money in the Bank briefcase. Rollins was positioned as the future of the company thanks to Triple H. At WrestleMania 31 in 2015, Rollins cashed in that briefcase to become the WWE Champion. He was forced to give up the title in November 2015 after a gruesome knee injury.
The rumor was that Roman Reigns was going to beat Rollins for the WWE Title at Survivor Series 2015 with the plan also being for Triple H to face Rollins at WrestleMania 32 earlier this year with Rollins in the face role. Instead, Triple won the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble, dropped it to Reigns and Triple H hasn’t appeared on WWE since then.
Now Triple H is back and just like he handed the WWE Title to Orton three years ago while also helping Rollins two years ago, he was back in the ring literally handing the WWE Universal Title to a new “chosen one” in Kevin Owens.
The reason I bring this up is because even though “The Kevin Owens Show” is certainly intriguing, it’s a bit disappointing that it took Triple H’s involvement leading to a major angle for the third time in four years. Can you really move forward with this “new era” if Triple H continues to get involved and basically duplicate what they did before?
The good news is that Triple H is in great shape and has had some pretty good matches in the last few years even though he’s not a full time wrestler anymore. He’s likely going to do the right thing in terms of putting over younger wrestlers. This isn’t the 2000s version of Triple H that held people down. He’s looking towards the future and that’s why he’s back on TV to help the talent get over with the crowd as much as they can.
Here’s a look at some of the rivalries, mostly centered around Owens and Triple H, that we are likely to see on Raw due to what happened in the final five minutes of Raw.
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
This seems like a no brainer. Whether it happens immediately at the September 25 Clash of Champions show or October’s Hell in a Cell or possibly even at Survivor Series, this should probably be the rivalry that carries Raw for the rest of the year.
Rollins will be the top face on the Raw brand along with Roman Reigns. Unlike Reigns, though, he should get cheered by the majority of the crowd. A lot of fans still don’t like Reigns and I doubt that’s going to change any time soon. Rollins is a cool guy and an exciting wrestler. It’s going to be easy to root for him as he fights back against Owens and Triple H to get his hands on the Universal Title.
The good thing is that while Owens has wrestled Rollins before in multi-man matches, they haven’t had a significant singles match since both guys were heels. Now that Rollins is a face, they can have that rivalry and it should be awesome.
Triple H vs. Seth Rollins
While I doubt that Triple H is going to wrestle that often, it would make sense for him to put on the trunks and boots for a match with Rollins. They have a lot of history there since Rollins was his guy. Rollins was given the Pedigree as a finishing move from Triple H and fans thought that Triple H was helping Rollins on Monday…until he turned on him.
This is a huge match WWE can do that, once again, feels fresh. That’s the positive thing about this situation because we haven’t seen a lot of these matches and when you can put on major matchups for the first time it feels special.
The fans are going to rally behind Rollins easily because Triple H has been the power hungry heel character for so long. They should have some very intense matches together.
Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns
It’s hard to know what Reigns is going to do immediately. He had that feud with Rusev around SummerSlam that didn’t really end but hasn’t included any kind of interaction in the last two weeks. Rusev isn’t going to be on Raw this week because he got married to Lana in Bulgaria (for the second time). That could mean that Reigns’ feud with Rusev is over.
If that is the case, then they could go with Owens vs. Reigns for the title while Triple H vs. Rollins is another match at Clash of Champions. While Owens has wrestled Reigns a few times before, they haven’t had a singles match on a PPV together, so this would also be a new feud for fans to get into.
The difficult thing about this match would be that fans are cheering for Owens quite a bit as a cool heel while a lot of them are booing Reigns, so it would be tough to get the reactions that WWE wants. Then again, this is WWE and they are stubbornly keeping Reigns as a face no matter what, so they’re probably okay with it.
Triple H vs. Roman Reigns
When Triple H showed up on Raw, he entered through the crowd and dropped Roman Reigns with a Pedigree on the floor. Reigns sold it like he was knocked out, Hunter rolled him back in and Rollins covered Reigns to eliminate him. While fans are going to be supportive of Rollins, it was Reigns that Hunter targeted first.
Their match at WrestleMania was the main event of the show and it was a bit underwhelming, yet it’s very possible that they will have another big match at some point. Why not? Raw needs all the star power it can get with a guy like Finn Balor on the sidelines with a major shoulder injury. Reigns vs. Triple H again seems very likely to happen.
Kevin Owens & Triple H vs. Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins
Tag matches don’t headline PPV events often, but in this case we might see it on the Raw brand. Obviously with Night of Champions on September 25 they should have Owens defend the Universal Title against one of these guys, but after that they could do a tag team Hell in a Cell match to headline the October Raw PPV titled Hell in a Cell. They could do a stipulation where if the face team wins then whoever gets the pinfall gets the Universal Title shot against Owens at Survivor Series. That way, there’s something on the line in the match instead of just trying to get revenge against Owens and Triple H.
Fans will want to see Reigns and Rollins team up again at some point. A mini Shield reunion would probably lead to more fans cheering Reigns too. It would be the best thing for all of them.
Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho
— Chris Jericho (@IAmJericho) August 30, 2016
It may not happen right away, but the two “best friends” are likely going to have a split soon just because that always happens in wrestling. Jericho’s better as a heel than he is as a face, but if they need to give Owens a win in a PPV match then Jericho isn’t a bad choice.
Jericho’s tweet about how “we” became Universal Champion is cheesy, but also something Owens can complain about leading to a fractured friendship. The sad thing is that Jericho is so entertaining as a heel that a face turn would probably hurt him. It just seems like something that they will have to do.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
Don’t forget about this rivalry. The last time they had a match was at July’s Battleground event when Zayn beat Owens in the biggest win of his career on the main roster. Since that time, Zayn hasn’t had much to do while Owens has ascended to become the Universal Champion.
While WWE may want to go away from doing this match in the near future because they wrestled so many times this year, fans know that they always have great matches. That Battleground match was one of the five best matches of the year. Seeing them do battle for the richest prize on Raw would be awesome because of their history. They could make it a stipulation match too.
Zayn is somebody that WWE should think about elevating now that Owens is holding the Universal Title. Rollins and Reigns are ahead of him in the babyface pecking order at the moment, but if he’s built up right then Zayn will show he belongs in the mix too.
Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor
— Finn Bálor (@FinnBalor) August 30, 2016
This is for down the road around WrestleMania time. Balor is out of action with a torn rotator cuff that required surgery and he’ll be out for at least six months, which means the end of February. It could be more than that, but I think he’ll be ready for WrestleMania in seven months. If you watched NXT in the last couple of years you know that Balor was the one that beat Owens for the NXT Title and they had several great matches.
Balor vs. Rollins seems less likely now that Rollins will probably be in the face role next year when Balor comes back. That’s why they can turn the focus to Owens vs. Balor as a possible WrestleMania match next year. Even if Owens isn’t the Universal Champion at that point, they could still do a match like that too.
Triple H/Stephanie McMahon vs. Mick Foley
It likely won’t be a match, but with the way the angle took place on Raw, both Stephanie and Mick were shocked that Triple H was there. In Stephanie’s case, it will likely be revealed that it was all a ruse as a way to screw over Rollins. Foley’s the babyface Raw GM though, so he should be upset that Triple H blatantly interfered in the main event of Raw.
All of it could lead to some angle at Survivor Series where Foley picks a team of wrestlers against Stephanie’s team of wrestlers with some sort of stipulation to make the match more interesting. There are a lot of ways they could go with it.
There are a lot of possibilities that were opened up after the major angle that took place on Raw. Now that Triple H is back in the mix with Owens as his handpicked top guy, Seth Rollins as the face, and Roman Reigns as his ally, suddenly Raw feels fresh again. Whether it means that Raw will be a consistently good show again is something that we don’t know at this time, but the optimist in me thinks that the rest of 2016 will be very good for the Raw brand.
Welcome to the Kevin Owens Show. Just remember, it’s only the beginning. The best is yet to come.