Finn Balor earned a shot at the WWE Universal Championship last night on RAW after defeating Drew McIntyre, John Cena, and Baron Corbin. Braun Strowman was taken out of the match by Vince McMahon after destroying his limousine in the storyline.
The original thought was that Strowman was replaced due to his legitimate injury not being medically cleared. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer states that this isn’t exactly the case.
Although Strowman may not be cleared, the plan was to have Brock Lesnar vs. Finn Balor for sometime now.
Here’s the breakdown of events leading to the change last night on television.
WWE Crown Jewel: Lesnar faced Strowman, Baron got involved. This match was setup Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman at Royal Rumble.
Vince Changes His Mind: The storyline was in place, but Vince began to change his mind. The idea was for Brock to win against Strowman at the Royal Rumble, then face Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania 35. Vince thought it wasn’t a good idea to have Strowman lose against Brock, and Brock wasn’t going to lose the title.
Injury Angle: Braun Strowman legitimately required surgery to remove elbow spurs, they wrote him off television so he can undergo the procedure.
Bait and Switch? WWE advertises Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman for Royal Rumble. They need a marquee match advertised, but all along Vince knows Strowman will not be in the match. Lesnar wanted to work with Finn Balor last year, and enjoys working with smaller agile guys over larger men.
Change Announced On RAW: WWE runs angle taking Strowman out of the match, and replacing him with Finn Balor after Fatal Four Way Match.
The WWE will now have Finn Balor vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship at Royal Rumble. It is unknown whether the original plan to have Brock Lesnar keep the title until Wrestlemania, and defend it against Seth Rollins is still something Vince McMahon has planned.