WWE have announced that Roman Reigns will defend the Universal Championship against Seth Rollins at the Royal Rumble.
The January 7th episode of SmackDown proved to be a show of surprises, with Royal Rumble entrants being announced left and right. But arguably the biggest shock of the night was reserved for the dying seconds of the show.
Ahead of the main event between The Usos and The New Day in a Street Fight, WWE Official Adam Pearce went to see Roman Reigns to inform him he had chosen his challenger for the Royal Rumble. Reigns was typically unimpressed and unconcerned, reminding Pearce that he had beaten everyone that the SmackDown had to offer.
However, seconds after The Usos retained their SmackDown Tag Team Championships, there was a knock on Reigns’ door backstage. As the champion climbed to his feet, he was greeted by Seth Rollins, complete with maniacal trademark laugh.
Though the pair didn’t exchange words, there is history aplenty between the two men, going back almost a decade to their time in The Shield.
It's … @WWERollins!!!!@WWERomanReigns#SmackDownpic.twitter.com/6TFyQxD1s3
— WWE (@WWE) January 8, 2022
In the opening segment of the show, Reigns came to the ring to remind the world of his disgust for Brock Lesnar and a Paul Heyman. Lesnar’s advocate went to dive into his traditional introduction, but was cut off by The Beast. Instead, Lesnar picked up the baton, impersonating Heyman, before challenging Reigns to a title vs. title match.
Reigns said that it was a good idea, but it wasn’t his, so turned down the bout. In the midst of the confrontation, Heyman talked up his love for Reigns much to the annoyance of Lesnar who told him to shut up. This created an almost love-triangle-like scenario between the trio which ended with Reigns delivering a Superman Punch to Lesnar.
Elsewhere on the show the shocks kept coming. Jackass star Johnny Knoxville qualified for the Royal Rumble match while it was announced that IMPACT Knockouts Champion Mickie James will be making a stunning return to WWE.