A new report suggests that WWE made a change to what they originally had planned for Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble.
At WWE SmackDown New Year’s Revolution in Vancouver, the main event was a triple threat match between Randy Orton, AJ Styles & LA Knight. The winner of that match was supposed to get an Undisputed WWE Universal Championship match against Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble.
Just when it looked like there might be a winner in the match, the “Tribal Chief” Reigns along with The Bloodline’s Solo Sikoa, Jimmy Uso and “Wise Man” Paul Heyman made their presence felt. Reigns and his allies attacked all three men in the match, which meant it was a No Contest with no winner.
The attack by Reigns and The Bloodline ended when Reigns & Sikoa hit their Spear/Samoan Spike combo on Randy Orton at the same time.
After the match, Smackdown General Manager Nick Aldis (who was at ringside for the match) told Paul Heyman that Roman Reigns will defend the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Styles, Orton & Knight in a Fatal 4-Way match at the Royal Rumble.
On Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer reported that WWE changed the original Reigns-Orton plan for the Royal Rumble because the company didn’t want to beat Orton so soon after his return at Survivor Series less than two months ago.
“The original idea was Roman and Randy Orton for the Rumble. Essentially there were parties involved who did not want to beat Randy Orton this early and just felt that there’s money to be made with Randy Orton and Roman in a program at some point but it’s too soon to do it. But LA Knight just got beat and AJ isn’t strong enough. I think AJ was the guy that they probably would have wanted because Roman can beat him.”
“I presume AJ is the one who is gonna lose but maybe not, could be LA. But the basic gist was that AJ gives them someone that can be beat, LA gives them someone they can beat. The thing with that match watching it was LA Knight is so over right now and everything but Randy Orton, I don’t know what it was but Randy Orton’s presence is really great right now, partially because he’s so freakin huge.”
How Did Roman Reigns React To Royal Rumble Match Announcement?
In a video posted to WWE social media after Smackdown, Paul Heyman can be seen backstage with Roman Reigns telling the Tribal Chief that Aldis made the Royal Rumble match a Fatal 4-Way. Heyman said “I’m sorry” after he told Reigns. That led to Roman thinking about it for a few moments before telling Heyman: “Wiseman…fix this.” Reigns left.
EXCLUSIVE: Following #TheBloodline's beatdown of @RandyOrton, @AJStylesOrg and @RealLAKnight, The Head of the Table is riding high until @HeymanHustle informs him of @RealNickAldis' decision to make a Fatal 4-Way Match for #RoyalRumble.#SmackDown: New Year's Revolution pic.twitter.com/LGUqeCa6vt
— WWE (@WWE) January 6, 2024
During Roman Reigns’ incredible 3.5 year run as Universal Champion, most of his matches have been singles matches. By doing a Fatal 4-Way match, WWE can present the story that Reigns could lose his title without being pinned.