Finn Balor earned himself a shot at the Universal Title after winning two matches on this week’s RAW. He will be facing Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble on January 27th.
On Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer noted that the plan was always for Finn Balor to replace Braun Strowman in the match. Apparently, this was planned long ago as WWE wanted a big match to boost Royal Rumble ticket sales. Then as they get closer to the event, the switch was made.
“This was the plan all along. So here’s the basic situation because I think everyone is going to say that his elbow wasn’t healed and that’s why they did this. Brock Lesnar vs Finn Balor was always the main event of the show.”
“At the Crown Jewel pay-per-view. Lesnar and Strowman wrestled and Baron got involved in that match the idea was to in fact to set up Brock Lesnar vs Braun Strowman at the Royal Rumble at that time.”
“What happened was Vince started thinking about it and he had already had the storyline started and everything like that and at some point Vince McMahon started thinking ‘What do we do?’”
“The idea was for Brock to go over and the Braun to face Seth Rollins [at WrestleMania]. At one point, Vince thought this wasn’t a good idea because [Strowman] just lost, he’s hot but he just lost. Then they had to do the injury angle so the idea was that kinda hurts him. So he basically felt that he couldn’t afford to beat him again.”
“So the choice was to let him win the title which was not in the cards, beat him again which he didn’t want to do, or don’t have the match which ended up being the choice. With him out it’s like who do we put Brock Lesnar against?”
It was noted that WWE did not have enough babyface replacements at that time and they did not know back then when John Cena would be available. Brock Lesnar wanted to face Finn Balor a year ago and so he is finally getting the match now.
While things could change once again, it is unlikely that we will see Braun Strowman compete at the event as he is still not medically cleared. So WWE promoted Braun Strowman vs Brock Lesnar for the Royal Rumble as they knew it would increase ticket sales, and had intended to change the match anyway.