It’s all starting to make sense. The shocking finish to Money in the Bank has had many questioning the new direction of the WWE. A shocking announcement by the company on Tuesday has answered most off those questions.
In what has to be one of the biggest stories of 2016, the WWE announced the suspension of former WWE champion Roman Reigns on Tuesday. The headline on the website simply reads “Roman Reigns Suspended”, a carefully crafted way to present the news without the details. However, all of the details are revealed when you click into the story.
“WWE has suspended Joe Anoa`i (Roman Reigns) for 30 days effective immediately for his first violation of the company’s talent wellness policy.”
The company also posted Reigns’ tweet…
“I apologize to my family, friends and fans for my mistake in violating WWE’s wellness policy,” Reigns tweeted. “No excuses. I own it.”
The announcement comes a few days after the shocking turn of events at Money in the Bank. All reports going into Money in the Bank were that even in the face of criticism Vince McMahon has stood by Roman Reigns. However, a few days leading into the event, reports surfaced that plans had changed, new matches were added to the main show, and Dean Ambrose suddenly became a favorite. I think it’s fair to presume that the violation influenced that decision.
The results of the show were surprising but the way Roman lost was the big story in my opinion. Reigns lost clean in the ring to Seth Rollins, which rarely happens to a guy that is supposedly the franchise player in the company. Losing would have been a surprise, but I never would have predicted he’d go down clean to a heel which is exactly how it went down.
The reaction on social media has been a lot more empathetic than I would have imagined. I have read several tweets from fans and media applauding Reigns for owning up to it and admitting his mistake. Call me a cynic but that makes no sense to me. Owning it in my opinion would have been coming out with this information before he was suspended for it. Quite honestly I don’t know what else he could have done if he had any hopes of holding on to his top babyface spot.
Reigns is the highest profile suspension due to a Wellness Policy violation in years. I will give the company credit here in that it’s there policy and they could have policed this however they wanted. They not only got right in front of it, they shifted presumably most of their plans to honor the policy.
The timeline is a key component of the story. Reigns is suspended for 30 days. The suspension brings Reigns back in time for Battleground. However, the WWE will not be able to promote one of the guys in their upcoming main-event on television. This also begs the question as to why they didn’t just shift to an Ambrose vs. Rollins match and hold off the three-way until SummerSlam.
The other critical variable here is that Reigns will miss the draft. The suspension keeps Reigns off of television during the draft, which is being pushed as a huge event for the company. One would think that Reigns would presumably be the first or second pick in the draft. That will create an awkward moment where the announcers have to explain why the top pick isn’t there.
That said, I think all of the questions as to whether he has lost Vince McMahon’s support will be answered on draft night. If Reigns is drafted anywhere outside of the top two picks, I’d suggest that this suspension will have longer ramifications on Reigns’ push. I think it’s safe to assume that he would have been drafted first if this suspension never happened. If Reigns is drafted first or even second, I’d feel real confident that Reigns’ spot is locked down upon his return.