The current WWE Universal Champion is Brock Lesnar. The last time he defended his title was at September’s No Mercy event, when he beat Braun Strowman clean in under 10 minutes. Lesnar also beat WWE Champion AJ Styles at Survivor Series two weeks ago, but that was a non-title match. If you’re wondering about the “all champions must defend their titles within 30 days” rule that WWE sometimes enforces and other times ignores, they are currently in the “ignoring” phase.
There were reports a few months ago that Lesnar was going to face Finn Bálor, likely at the Royal Rumble on January 28 in Philadelphia. You may recall that Lesnar’s advocate Paul Heyman made it a point to put over Finn Bálor in promos earlier in the year in order to build him up as a future contender. The idea behind that was Lesnar has already beaten Samoa Joe and Strowman in singles matches (at Great Balls of Fire and No Mercy respectively), so Bálor was another top Raw talent that he could beat before the eventual WrestleMania showdown with Roman Reigns that has been the plan since March.
However, last week we reported on the story from Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer, noting that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon doesn’t feel like Bálor is over enough and that the plan for Royal Rumble has changed.
Bálor has responded to the “he’s not over enough” stories on Twitter over the last week with various tweets where he mentions the word “OVER” repeatedly. He also included a WWE.com poll where he had overwhelming support as the answer to a fan question of who the WWE Universe wants to see Brock Lesnar face next.
In the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer wrote that poll results like that don’t really mean anything, because WWE’s decision makers (namely Vince McMahon) are going to do what they want. Meltzer also noted that it’s not known who the Lesnar opponent for the Rumble might be, and that it’s not a 100 percent guarantee that Lesnar will even be defending the Universal Championship at Royal Rumble if he does have a match (although he will certainly have a match). If WWE does have any plans or ideas for him, they’re keeping quiet about it.