To no one’s surprise, Brock Lesnar left the premiere episode of Friday Night Smackdown with the WWE Championship in his possession.
Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone predicted how he won it to cross the minds of creatives, that being squashing former champion Kofi Kingston in just nine seconds with the F5. The WWE Universe suffered through Lesnar’s part time schedule as Universal Champion, damaging the prestige of the short-lived belt to the point it’s still not quite there. This can’t happen to the ‘richest prize in sports entertainment’ – he has to be on TV more than he previously was, otherwise the WWE title will mean nothing.
One way to keep him on TV, and to keep the prestige that comes with the title is to keep him in extremely interesting feuds, utilising Heyman to keep us fans interested. With Smackdown now being the ‘A show’ and the Draft happening this Friday and next Monday, we could see some old feuds refreshed and new feuds all of us want to see. We know of one for sure, thanks to the ending of Smackdown in Cain Velazquez. This list will only consist of feuds we haven’t seen before, so no Big Dog… sorry!
5. Big E
I can picture it now. Big E confronts Lesnar after Kofi’s loss, steps up and is given the main event push we all know he deserves. You could also have him turn on The New Day which would definitely spice things up and make his reign even more interesting. Big E completely deserves the shot, both his abilities in the ring and his character work makes him one of the most captivating competitors WWE has on its roster. E vs Lesnar would be incredible, a clash of two strong men but one has the agility of a cruiserweight is a ready-made main event. The best thing about this feud is its freshness, it’s something we haven’t seen before in terms of the competitors.
I would personally absolutely love to see Big E in the main event picture, I would love to see him with the title and I think he could be the face of Smackdown as either a face or a heel. Even though they are trying to change to a sports-based program and you’d expect they would want someone like Lesnar or Matt Riddle as a face, but E is an all-rounder. Prior to The New Day, especially back in his NXT days, his gimmick was demanding a five count as he used his power lifting background in his gimmick. Something like returning that would be perfect for E, the title and the brand.
4. Kevin Owens
The hottest babyface on the roster at the moment, coming off the back of a win against Shane McMahon to rid Smackdown of the latter. Another competitor, like Big E, who is larger but has the move set and the abilities of a cruiserweight. Kevin Owens is another person who can be the face of Smackdown, the new age Stone Cold. The only problem is there is no confirmation that Smackdown will have an authority figure, which has been Owens’ strong point over the last few months. Despite this, he has proven he can be the top guy in NXT and ROH and we all know when given an opportunity with a title in WWE, he can do it here. I don’t really count his Universal Championship match because other factors overshadow his reign, which was completely the fault of the creative team.
Now that he has finished his feud with Shane, he is left without anything going forward. We all know that he and Lesnar would kill it in the ring and he and Heyman would kill it on the mic – Owens portraying the ‘every man’ to take down The Beast. The other aspect of this, which WWE may not pick up on but us fans will, is that Lesnar is the WWE guy and that he came straight into the company at a young age and was given everything he wanted. On the flip side, Owens had to scratch and claw through the indies to get to this point. If they did incorporate this into the storyline, it’d make it even more interesting.
3. Erick Rowan
I think I’m putting this in here for Dan Lloyd, but I can see this happening. Rowan has been receiving a monster push recently, coming out of the shadows of Daniel Bryan and realigning with Luke Harper to absolutely destroy Smackdown. Yes, he and Harper did lose to Bryan and Reigns at Hell in a Cell but that’s not going to stop his momentum; he is going to continue to wreak havoc across the brand until he comes face to face with Lesnar. It’s another big man vs big man situation, but another big man who’s more athletic than others and could create a decent feud.
The only downfall with this is that it would be a heel vs heel dynamic, unless they got Lesnar to the tweener stage we’ve seen him at many times in his career. It would take a bit for Rowan to climb the ladder and be presented as a credible challenger, but it can happen. He’s got everything to be a main event star: his move set, look, character and promo skills (now he’s being given the chance to use them). His push completely revolves around how long they drag out this Bryan and Reigns storyline, the outcome of it and if they bury Rowan and Harper to elevate Reigns and Bryan.
2. Aleister Black
A man who hasn’t been on our screens for a while, until last night’s RAW (which was confusing). WWE would have to change his current situation in which he is sat backstage waiting for someone to pick a fight with him, he would need to either be in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ to tick off Lesnar, or confront him when Heyman announces that Lesnar has ran roughshod through the whole roster.
A different dynamic to the previous three entries as Black is smaller than Lesnar but has the same sort of background in mixed martial arts which, for me, would be the best feud out of this entire list. Black needs something to do, he’s been floundering since coming over from NXT. I know a jump to the main event scene is unheard of but when you’ve got a competitor like Aleister Black, he is 100% deserving of this opportunity, being one of the best and most criminally underused talent WWE has in its entire roster. Look at him in NXT: he was unstoppable and feared by everyone. WWE need to bring this Black onto the Smackdown roster and into a feud with a big name to get the best out of him.
Black is also another person who can have a brilliant vocal joust with Heyman. He hasn’t been able to show it, but his mic skills are very good and would match us against the loud and brash Heyman with his subtle and articulate promos.
1. Daniel Bryan
Technically, not a feud Lesnar has already had. The one match Bryan and Lesnar had at Survivor Series 2018 was possibly one of the matches of the year, even though Bryan won the title two days before the event. It would seem this would’ve been in the works for longer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Vince changed his mind the day of Smackdown and gave Bryan and Lesnar two days.
Bryan recently turning face as well would increase the chances of this feud happening, and if WWE return him to his underdog persona, it would increase it even more. Looking at Lesnar’s previous matches against the likes of Seth Rollins, Finn Balor and Bryan himself, he works perfectly with men smaller than him and sells their underdog attacks like his life depended on it.
Bryan, another competitor with legitimate MMA background in the form of his submission abilities, would be another brilliant face of the brand. He is a competitor loved by the fans, heel or face, a fantastic competitor, a veteran of the business and someone who WWE can rely on when it comes to leading the line. I wouldn’t be shocked that this would be first feud following the rumoured Lesnar vs Velazquez match at Crown Jewel, and could easily be set up with a number one contender match. We all know that Bryan’s time is slightly numbered based on his previous injuries, but we would all love to see him as champion one more time, with a repeat of the ‘Miracle on Bourbon Street’, overcoming The Beast on the big stage of Wrestlemania.
We all hope Lesnar doesn’t hold the title hostage and doesn’t show up to any events except PPV’s where he’ll be paid an extortionate amount of money to appear. If he does, WWE are putting the prestige of the title at stake; if they don’t, they will create some instant classics with members of the roster, including these five men who I believe fully deserve an opportunity.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @George_Geal_. Thanks for reading!