Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
Since winter of 2013, it seems clear that WWE is keen on shoving another member of the famous Anoa’i family to the front of the line to be top dog of the roster. However, it would be wise to take a more patient approach in building “The Roman Empire”, or else risk seeing it crumble to pieces sooner than planned.
The smart analysts lately appear to agree that the match to headline Wrestlemania 31 should be Brock Lesnar vs Daniel Bryan. It is only fitting that Bryan and the fans who supported him through all of his hardships be allowed a proper reign atop the WWE mountain, something which whether by hook, crook or circumstance has been denied to them thus far.
But, if that is the case, what is Reigns to do? So much effort has been put into making the hot young stud a Samoan Superman, what will he do while Daniel Bryan headlines the show? Simple. Reigns does what any great champion does: he works.
If there’s one thing last year’s Road to Wrestlemania and the return of Batista should have taught WWE creative, it’s that the smart fans of the modern era do not like being told who to cheer for. This is an angle which The Authority played out for months, as they continually told the fans to recognize Randy Orton as the pinnacle of a WWE superstar, and that angle got major heat.
The fans like Roman Reigns, it’s true. Is he exciting to watch in the ring? Most definitely. The real question remains: Would they rally behind him as much if he were not booked as strongly as he has been? The mark of a great performer is someone who can steal the show regardless of the hand he’s dealt.
Look at Dean Ambrose. When The Shield broke apart, Reigns got the baby-face push while Rollins got the super-heel push, leaving Ambrose in relative limbo. Then, like Steve Austin almost twenty years earlier, the fans began responding to his charisma, and before I or, I’m sure, the writers knew what to do, Ambrose was receiving bigger pops than either of his former team-mates. It was a prime example of the people choosing a hero rather than accepting a hero with whom they’re presented.
The best thing bookers in the WWE can do for Reigns on the road to Wrestlemania and beyond is not to pave the road with a red carpet and rose pedals, it is to pile adversity and hardship before him and force him to struggle through it. That is how a champion is made. That is how true respect is earned. That is what made Daniel Bryan the hero he is today, and that is why he deserves every ounce of praise the people shower upon him.
As cheesy as it sounds, I do “believe in Roman Reigns”. I believe he has the ability to become the top guy in WWE. He has already proven himself talented in the ring. He boasts decisive victories over Randy Orton, The Miz, Mark Henry, Alberto Del Rio and Kane, all former world champions.
Even so, dues still need to be paid.
An excellent start would be to have the Powerhouse decisively conquer Rusev’s undefeated streak, maybe at Wrestlemania, winning the United States Championship. He could return a sense of national pride to the belt, and set out to defend it in the name of truth and justice.
From there, he could cut through all challengers until he set his sights on the Intercontinental Champion, whoever it may be at the time. Bad News Barrett or Luke Harper would make for potentially great rivals. With a victory for Reigns, WWE could take the opportunity to merge the IC and US belts – an idea that’s been thrown around periodically for a while now.
Such a dominant hot streak could not be denied, especially if it culminated in Reigns finally winning the Royal Rumble match in 2016. Two consecutive impressive displays in WWE’s premier battle royal with no win would make his ultimate victory that much sweeter.
Then he can finally begin his road to face the WWE Champion at Wrestlemania 32. If he’s done a solid job throughout the year, I doubt a single person would be able to deny him the respect such an honour deserves.
As it stands now, Roman is not ready to lead the company. If the brass does not choose to acknowledge this fact, then they risk short-selling the athlete’s true potential. If they try and fast-track him to glory, they may not be able to avoid the polarizing chants from the crowd: “Let’s Go Roman / Roman Sucks! Let’s Go Roman / Roman Sucks!”