On the top, I have to say I’m all for anyone who makes their bag while exposing their bodies to less and less risk. If Roman Reigns wanted to keep making millions by wrestling just 20 times a year, you’d get it, my friend. If he wants to do it by removing all the stakes and is just going to be making movies from now on, that’s great too (same goes for Sasha Banks, who likely will, but my sadness of never seeing her in the ring again would be unmanageable ).
I was also one of the biggest fans of Reign’s repackaging, which is now nearly two years old, as a compelling and gorgeous heel that didn’t have to do anything else. It’s what it was always made for, and it only took a pandemic and a lack of risk thanks to no live crowd for Vince McMahon to find out.
But everything has a shelf life, and this Roman run feels over. It only won’t stop for a little while now, maybe even longer.
We know that Vince has desperately wanted Reigns to take over the company for years. Which is why he blacked out at Mania main event after main event even though fans don’t really want any part of it. But now that Vince has got what he chased after, he makes it clear that he’s going to sit on it. and sit on it. And still.
Now that Roman has held both titles (both Raw and Smackdown), WWE is facing the same problem it had when Vince allowed Brock Lesnar to sit on the title for over a year. It’s not on TV. That doesn’t mean Roman has to wrestle on both shows all the time, nor anything close. But Raw happened last week without any mention of the title or Reigns. She felt so pointless, even more so when the main event was one of the irrational and stupid “championship competition” matches that force a champion like Bianca Beller to face a non-title match to see if she has to wrestle a title match. road. Even Becky Lynch said she was stupid on the show. And of course it had no end, which made the entire show so pointless.
But Roman must be present, and he needs someone to chase after him to play with. He hasn’t had that since Mania, and even this Mania build was perverted because, as fun as Brock was, no one thought he’d win for a second. And the actual mania match came out extremely cold, whether it was due to injury or not. There was no glow from him that Reigns could use to shine through in the aftermath. He was just sitting there.
There is still some confusion about what exactly Roman’s schedule will be now. He started the fifth rumor about his gear at a home show in New Jersey, hinting he might not be back. Some thought he would leave altogether. Some thought he was just canceling house shows most of the time. It appears to be the latter, with Reigns only actually entering the ring on PPVs (or PLEs, Premium Live Events, to use the parlance of our time). And again, that’s good. It must be a big deal when Reigns wrestles. It has to be an event, which means it doesn’t have to happen very often.
But you still need constructions, you still need anticipation, and you still need a story. WWE doesn’t have one, and Roman’s presence going through everyone has left the field disadvantaged by credible competitors. It looks like New York starts Drew McIntyre on the road this Sunday in the PLE in a six-man card with Reigns and Usos, along with WWE’s most popular entertainers at the moment Randy Orton and Matt Riddle. It was a chance to show a crack or two. Reigns didn’t even have to eat the pin, but it was all too easy to start the empire’s downfall with the loss of Usos while pairing up with Reigns, his resentment and paranoia starting to crumble and create cracks. Instead, Roman Riddle commented. We are back where we started.
There’s still time here, of course, if Orton and Riddle have to unite the tag titles on Usos, but why not start on Sunday? Losing the title must be a big deal, built over months, so why not take some small steps? Reigns won’t be around when the Usos loses, and neither will McIntyre.
All this ignores is that New York avoided its best angle with Reigns in their desperation to put him up with Brock. This is his feud with Seth Rollins at the Royal Rumble. That match was brilliant on the frontier, and Infinity worked because it exposed the holes in Roman’s armor – his insecurities about his history with Rollins and the Shield, his inability to reconcile that his former comrades always had him beat up, and he can’t actually face loss and panic. It’s also what Kevin Owens put into it in his dying days of the Thunderdome. It was all there, and that unscalable monster that Reigns had become seemed to be invincible, if only for a moment.
WWE went ahead and ignored it, throwing it in the trash in service of more Brock-Roman matches. I never heard of her again. Which brings Roman back to the same thing we’ve seen for over a year, “I’m the best anyone can beat me, that’s my ring.” There is no difference in personality. It’s little more than a piece of cardboard. You do it long enough and your fans stop buying it or caring about it. And they can’t ignore how McMahon fiercely wanted to cement Roman as the next Hogan, which is all Lesnar used to do. It’s very cute now.
Seth was no longer likely, and WWE never bothered to call his history, even recent history, to build a match. They probably line up McIntyre to win it in Wales, while ignoring that MacIntyre is Scottish (there’s little chance of Vince knowing the difference between Wales and Scotland). However, this crowd would be semi-riot and Drew’s win there would feel massive.
But not having Roman around much isn’t going to help with that. And not having a change in his personality won’t help with that either. There’s four months to get McIntyre back into a true giant again, but that’s still a man who’s spent the past few months chasing Baron Corbin and Madcap Moss with a sword. She doesn’t exactly scream “wrestling icon.” Is Drew a strong enough promo to build this partly, or mostly, on its own? Doubtful.
Maybe Cody Rhodes, another guy who’s just happy to ignore giving his character any flaws or depth and could be face-to-numbers to counter the heel of paint Reigns has become. Rhodes is definitely a good enough promo to do as much work as it would take on his own, and WWE fans are more tolerant of someone being so far off his ass that they’re back again.
What is clear is that this has taken a long time. Reigns having 1st place on the card just to get Reigns to take 1st place on the card has led to her being rinsed out. McMahon got his credit, got his award, but now it’s time to move on.