As WWE prepares to embark on new challenges and create new stars in 2018, its first significant booking decision of the year should be to begin a fresh era with the Universal Championship.
The rumors circulating online, per Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Randall Ortman at Cageside Seats), call for Brock Lesnar to defend that title in a bout against Braun Strowman and Kane at next month's Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
As bizarre and strange a main event that sounds like given how it will be 2018 by that point, it creates an opportunity for WWE it cannot squander.
While Brock Lesnar was an obvious choice to beat Goldberg at WrestleMania 33 and capture the Universal Championship for the first time, it is painfully obvious he and the title are ready to part ways for a number of reasons.
It's time for only the fifth man to be given the prestige of winning Raw's premiere belt—and that man should be Braun Strowman.
First of all, there's Lesnar's own standing within WWE to consider. Still working a heavily weighted part-time schedule on Raw, it goes without saying that Lesnar does not need a championship around his waist to be considered a threat to the rest of the locker room on Monday nights.
They have no long term booking at all other than Reigns winning that Title. When did they decide this Brock Rumble match?— PWM (@ProWrestlingMag) December 11, 2017
Given how WWE is building up to WrestleMania season, Lesnar dropping the Universal Championship at this point is also a smart move because it frees the company up to have Brock work a high-profile match elsewhere on the card, away from the title picture.
That gives WWE another huge name to build another match around, bulking out the Mania card in encouraging fashion.
Then there's the issue of the Universal Championship itself. Per ProFightDB, Lesnar has defended the Universal Championship just four times on television since winning it at WrestleMania 33.
That is just not enough for a title that needs as much exposure as possible. With Lesnar barely around to work feuds, the title is hardly ever seen on WWE's main show. How can that be a good thing for the title, or indeed the people who intend to hold it in the future?
There's so much talent on Raw at the minute, and you sense they'd be better served with the title. The Shield, Sheamus, Cesaro and Samoa Joe have a great thing going on at the minute—putting the Universal Championship at the heart of that feud would have made fans care just that touch more on Monday night, for example.
Finn Balor rightly deserves his opportunity to win back the title he never lost. Joe himself feels like a champion in the making, while Strowman—another huge success story in 2017—is ready for the main event scene on a permanent basis.
And that brings us neatly to The Monster Among Men. Braun cannot afford another defeat to Brock, no matter how valiant and impressive an effort he put in at No Mercy earlier this year.
Sure, Kane may well wrestle at Royal Rumble to take the pin if rumors are to be believed, but does that really help Braun at all? The fact is, he will still have another loss to his name on pay-per-view, and Lesnar will take the title off TV again until around WrestleMania 34.
WWE cannot afford to wait until WrestleMania for someone like Roman Reigns to dethrone Brock Lesnar. The title needs a new owner as soon as possible—and WWE has a ready-made replacement in Braun Strowman.
Now is the time for WWE to roll the dice.