It’s finally here! Whether it has been expedited due to the absence of John Cena or falling television ratings, Roman Reigns is back in the WWE title picture. For the WWE, it may be the last opportunity they have to shift one of the worst booking strategies since the Lex Express.
The plan going into 2015 was for Reigns to grab that brass ring and fulfil his written destiny at WrestleMania 31. A stadium-sized crowd was expected to go wild with children cheering wildly and adults in tears as their new hero slain the beast incarnate…at least that is what was supposed to happen in Vince McMahon’s scripted world. Instead, Reigns road to the crown has been arguably the biggest booking blunder of the modern-day era of WWE creativity.
Reigns is not to blame for the disaster. Sure, he has to bear some responsibility as the most successful pro wrestlers in history will say time and time again that it is up to the talent to make it happen. However, none of those legends had to endure terribly scripted promos, naïve booking, and situations that would make anyone from Stone Cold Steve Austin to Bruno Sammartino look foolish. I documented all of the booking missteps in a blog shortly before WrestleMania chronicling all of the decisions that resulted in Reigns being booed heavier than John Cena at the moment he was expected to be the most beloved babyface the company had seen in years. Rather than rehash the timeline, I’d encourage you to check out the blog for more details.
Booking pro wrestling is not rocket science. Is it easy? I wouldn’t call it easy, yet I wouldn’t put it up there with anything that requires a Bachelor’s Degree. There is so much data available in 2015, present and past, that booking pro wrestling has never been easier. Yet for some unexplainable reason, the company has botched Roman Reigns in every way possible. It’s time to get it right!
The reaction Reigns got throughout the night, culminating with his winning the Fatal Four-Way is the kind of reaction WWE officials were hoping to get when he won the Royal Rumble 10 months ago. That is the kind of reaction you generally see a guy getting when he wins his shot at WrestleMania, not at the Survivor Series. Now the sceptic in me thinks it was awfully coincidental that Reigns, who has been booed consistently the last ten months, including the night before, happens to get that kind of monster reaction on the night he wins his big match, but that is a conspiracy I’ll leave to Jesse Venture. Nonetheless, Monday night was truly a rebirth of Reigns and an opportunity the company will never get again.
Reigns getting his title shot now is a little surprising since most reports pegged him getting his first WWE title win at WrestleMania. That is what worries me. The WWE can’t afford to blow this momentum on Reigns. They can’t afford to get cute, screw Reigns out of the title, and wait until Mania to pull the trigger. The slow burn just isn’t there and it won’t be there with a guy like him. Now that the fans want what the company has wanted for almost two years, it would best be served to give it to them.
Anyone who has watched pro wrestling for any amount of time can see the foreshadowing of a Dean Ambrose turn. His erratic behavior in recent weeks is right out of the old-school playbook. If the turn is set up to be triggered by Reigns winning the title, that’s fine. A Reigns vs. Ambrose title program, possibly culminating a Triple Threat Match with Seth Rollins is a great start to the Reigns era.
Putting the belt on Reigns is only the first step. The biggest step is being the man to beat Lesnar whether it’s at WrestleMania or another event. It’s a long road ahead, but you’re never going to get there if you keep getting lost looking for alternative routes. The path is clear and the time is right. It’s time to put the championship on Reigns.