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What if Matt Riddle was to challenge Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 35?

Mike Chin
Top 5 / Top 10
30 Jan 2019, 20:48 IST

Matt Riddle could be uniquely positioned to challenge Brock Lesnar.
Matt Riddle could be uniquely positioned to challenge Brock Lesnar.

The Royal Rumble is behind us. Seth Rollins emerged victorious and we now know that WWE is lining him up to challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 35. If WWE doesn’t go with the widely rumored first women’s ‘Mania main event featuring Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch, and possibly Charlotte Flair, and instead goes a more conservative route, then it’s fair to guess that Rollins-Lesnar will close the show.

WWE didn’t necessarily have to go this route, though. Rollins could have challenged Daniel Bryan in more of a purist’s dream match, or else someone already on the SmackDown brand like Samoa Joe or Mustafa Ali could have been placed in that position for a more aggressively experimental WrestleMania angle. That would have left Lesnar and the Universal title open.

Sure, someone like Rollins or Braun Strowman could have naturally enough transitioned to challenging the Beast Incarnate. But what if WWE had gone in a totally different direction with a fresh and legitimately shocking challenger.

What if Matt Riddle were challenging Lesnar?

#5 Earning a title shot

Matt Riddle would need to get established quickly for casual fans.
Matt Riddle would need to get established quickly for casual fans.

One of the biggest obstacles to positioning Matt Riddle as a challenger to Brock Lesnar would be the credibility gap, particularly in the eyes of casual fans.

More hardcore wrestling fans may have followed Riddle’s work with smaller promotions and developed a respect for him, and moreover been impressed by initial work opposite Kassius Ohno. However, Riddle hasn’t yet gone so far as to even appear on main roster television, making him an unknown commodity to fans who only follow Raw and SmackDown.

As such, WWE would need to both in kayfabe and the eyes of its fans justify Riddle challenging the Universal Champion, and particularly at the biggest show of the year. The most efficient way to do that would be for him to earn the opportunity on TV, perhaps as an unannounced participant in a tournament, Fatal Fourway, or Elimination Chamber match (the Royal Rumble could have been another opportunity). Moreover, Riddle would need to win in convincing fashion, not appearing to luck his way into the spot, but rather using his knockout or submission skills to immediately establish him as a big-time threat. 

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