Now that it is officially WWE WrestleMania season, it is also time for a brand new State of the Roman Empire column (4.0). You all remember who Roman Reigns is, don’t you? He is not a bad guy, he is not a good guy, but he simply is THE GUY. Or more like Vincent Kennedy McMahon’s guy to be exact. I was more of a Reigns’ hater back before it was the cool thing to do. I actually did not like Reigns all that much when the Shield was still together, which is probably because Ambrose and Rollins are so talented. As a matter of fact, I have always been a Dean Ambrose (Jon Moxley) guy and eventually grew to like Seth Rollins (Tyler Black). At first, I did not like Rollins being the one to turn heel on his fellow Shield members because I thought that should have been Ambrose’s opportunity. I just think Ambrose is the best natural heel of the bunch. However, I grew to appreciate and respect the decision of WWE giving that spot to Rollins. Also, somewhere along the way, when the IWC officially turned TROLL on Reigns, I started to appreciate Reigns. For some reason, I tend to like the things that many others do not like. Yeah, I am one of those fans. Call me CRAZY because I know you will, but Reigns being successful as the top guy matters to the WWE both financially and creatively. It also matters to all the fans who despise him. The better the top guy does for WWE, the better the rest of the roster does by default, and the better the product becomes. In turn, this makes the fans ultimately much more satisfied. Don't believe me? Just look back at the Golden Era of the late 1980s-early 1990s, as well as the Attitude Era.
Here is a quote from the professional wrestling mind of Joe Dombrowski (Twitter @joe_dombrowski). I asked him this question: What are your thoughts on Roman Reigns? Joe’s response, “I think he’s doing great but is suffering because of some timing issues creatively over the years. Hate is totally undeserved, but I get why it’s there.”
Well said Joe! We all know the best opportunity to get Roman Reigns over was if he was booked to win the 2014 Royal Rumble instead of Batista. That would have most likely been the right timing. However, WWE did not do that and suffered the initial wrath from the fans by having Batista win it. For the first time since I can remember, WWE had to do an immediate course correction and ended up getting Daniel Bryan in the spot to be the guy at WrestleMania 30. Even though Bryan’s moment at WM30 was one for the ages, the Batisa Royal Rumble win simply left a sour taste in many fans’ mouths. By the time Reigns was booked to win the Rumble in 2015, it was too late. Thus, the negative reaction he has received since was inevitable. By 2016, WWE tried to use the disdain that many fans have for Triple H as yet another course correction attempt. However, this time WWE tried to use a legendary heel such as Triple H to get Reigns over as the top baby face. Um, it did not work.
Now let’s fast forward to present day. At the 2017 Royal Rumble, Roman Reigns lost his match against Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship earlier in the night. He then proceeded to come out as the #30 entrant in the Rumble match and of course to a plethora of boos. It came down to Reigns and Orton, and I know WWE was thinking that if Orton won by eliminating Reigns, it would get Orton over in a big way with the fans. Again, WWE was using Reigns in a way that helped absolutely nobody, especially Orton. WWE would have been better off by not having Reigns come out in the Rumble match. At this point, it would not matter if he beat Owens for the Universal title or not. The Rumble could have then come down to Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, and the Undertaker. A great finish would have been Wyatt and Orton eliminating the Undertaker, then Orton could have sacrificed himself to put Wyatt over. If WWE ends up having Wyatt win the WWE Championship in the Elimination Chamber so he can face Orton at WM33, I will find it acceptable. However, I think if the story unfolded as I just mentioned, it would have been much more compelling. WWE could have then booked Orton to win the WWE Championship in the EC match. Or they could have had Orton and Cena finish via a fluky draw. This would allow WWE to vacate the title until WM33, where Wyatt Vs Orton Vs Cena could take place.
But what would this all mean for Roman Reigns and WM33? Well, we know WWE is probably going to give us Reigns Vs Undertaker and/or Braun Strowman at Mania. Nothing necessarily against this booking, but I feel Strowman Vs Undertaker would be perfectly acceptable for WM33, with Undertaker going over of course. This would then free up Reigns to be in the Universal title picture against Kevin Owens and/or Chris Jericho. Let’s just assume Finn Balor will not be back until after Mania. Since he has been off TV for months due to his injury, it is only fair to the other talent that Balor be held off the WM33 card. His return would be perfect for the Raw after WM33. We know the Raw brand is going to give us Goldberg Vs Lesnar and a match involving Rollins (if healthy), Triple H, and Samoa Joe. Hell, if Balor does get healthy and is cleared to compete, and WWE feels the need to book him for Mania, he could replace an injured Rollins against Triple H and/or Joe if need be. At this point, it makes all the sense in the World to have Reigns in the Universal title picture. The downside to this is since Owens has his IWC fan following, and Jericho is always adored by a majority of the fans, it would most likely still create negative fan reaction for Reigns.
It seems like we have talked about Cena needing to turn heel for years and years now. Oh wait, we have. Now the same thing is happening to Reigns, where he should be booked as a heel, but he is not because Vince McMahon wants him as the superhero baby face with merchandise all over the WWE Shop and in retail stores. Regardless of how Reigns is booked for WM33, I am backing him 100% and hope he wins his match in Orlando. Whether he defeats the Undertaker, Braun Strowman, or Kevin Owens, I look forward to reviewing his big Mania match. Likewise, I am sure all the Reigns’ haters are hoping he is booked to lose at WM33. If you really think about it, having Reigns lose a hard fought match on the biggest stage is definitely one way WWE can manufacture cheers for him. I know, that is a weird concept, but it technically could work. I just hope WWE continues to push Reigns hard, as well as Ambrose and Rollins. I just know that one day, the Shield will reunite and all the fans will rejoice. BELIEVE THAT!
INDY WRESTLER OF THE MONTH (FEBRUARY 2017)
MARTI BELLE (@MartiBelle)
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