As seen on WWE Raw this week, Vince McMahon made a major change to the WWE Universal Title match at the Royal Rumble PPV when he pulled Braun Strowman from the bout as a result of The Monster Among Men damaging Mr. McMahon’s limo.
The end of Raw then saw Finn Balor win a Fatal Four Way match to become the new #1 contender to Lesnar’s Title, and Balor vs The Beast will now take place at the Rumble PPV on January 27th.
Following the main event of Raw this week, we dispelled a rumor that Finn Balor was being given a push in WWE due to the announcement of All Elite Wrestling and potential interest in Balor from AEW.
According to PWInsider, the decision to pull Braun Strowman from the Royal Rumble Title match was based on a number of factors, the primary factor being that he is not yet 100% cleared to return to the ring following elbow surgery back in December.
There was also a feeling in WWE that given Braun Strowman’s current momentum on the Raw brand, now would not be a good time to have him lose to Brock Lesnar, which could possibly impact Strowman’s longterm viability as a top contender on Raw. Lesnar previously defeated Braun Strowman in a Universal Title match back in 2017.
Additionally, the report notes WWE officials actually made the decision to pull Strowman from the Title bout and replace him with Finn Balor several weeks ago, as the idea of going with a “David vs Goliath” match in Lesnar vs Balor seemed more attractive for the PPV.
Finally, the report stresses the decision to insert Finn Balor into the Title match at Royal Rumble was not made at the last minute, and was not a case of WWE second guessing. The move has been in the works for weeks now, which is why WWE has been slowly building Balor up on Raw in recent episodes, and to help bolster the babyface side of the red brand.