There hasn’t been a truer statement made than the one a friend of mine uttered on Monday night when Roman Reigns answered Rusev’s challenge.
“The United States Title has not become more important than the WWE World Title.”
My friend, who shall remain nameless, tends to spout off every once in a while about a wide variety of minutae, but this comment was right on the money. It took am Anti-American heel to finally make Reigns a superhero.
One by one, in ant-like fashion, WWE has lined up opponents, and each one has failed to put the Big Man over as the face of this company. Bray Wyatt, Sheamus, Triple H, Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles and Seth Rollins. That’s a murderer’s row in any professional wrestling promotion. None got the job done – and it wasn’t their fault. Now, the one guy everyone loves to hate could become the hero we have all wanted to see.
If you know anything about professional wrestling, the Anti-American angle has always worked. The Iron Sheik, Ivan and Nikita Koloff. Even roles sympathizer roles like Sgt. Slaughter has been involved in – they all help the opponent on the other side of the ring.
Reigns finally has a program he can pull off and win. With the United States Title in tow, fans will root for him to defend the red, white and blue. The move is brilliant, and if pulled off correctly, Vince McMahon can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
In decades past, it was Dusty Rhodes defending America. Then it was Hulk Hogan. We all got behind Kurt Angle and his Olympic gold. Then came John Cena. All big time baby faces. All with thousands of adoring fans.
Reigns has a lot to live up to.
WWE must capitalize on momentum. Reigns needs to come out with both barrels, preaching how he loves his country, how Rusev (and Lana) are a disgrace to the belt he wants to win and defend. In essence, he needs to become John Cena-like. Vince must be smiling at the prospect. Finally, he gets his wish of “his guy” taking over the role he wanted for him in the first place.
If you look at Reigns now and where he was a year ago, his body of work is solid. Main event matches on Raw, headlining pay-per-view events. There are few in this company who has been able to support that kind of schedule for 12 months. We all may criticize him, but he has paid his dues. Taking him out of the main event title picture was the right move. It gives Finn Balor a chance to share the spotlight with Rollins while WWE rebuilds him as the superhero of the future. Rusev has been dynamic since winning the US Title once again. Finally, he has met his match.
Reigns can do what Titus O’Neal and Zach Ryder couldn’t do – he can beat the mighty Russian.
I applaud WWE for taking a step back and using a theme that was so popular when there were true heels and true babyfaces. No matter how blurred the lines are today with good guys and bad guys, we can all agree that defending America is the rallying cry all fans get behind. Fans have had heroes in the past they have loved and adored. Now, it’s time to get behind one they must grow to love. This isn’t about having Reigns and his three title runs thrown down someone’s throat. It’s about getting behind the good guy in the battle versus evil. Rusev will do his part and sell the spot for Reigns.
Now, all Reigns has to do is win, and convince his detractors that he finally is the champion and hero we all wanted him to be.