Historically Significant Disasters of Wrestling #75: Roman Reigns' Road to WrestleMania 32 (Part Two)

The Road to WrestleMania hits a few potholes...

When we left off, Roman had won the title finally over a more popular figure. And then Triple H attempted to once again offer Reigns an olive branch, to which Roman responded with a spear.

Then he ran into this guy's boot:


The tragedy of Sheamus is a difficult one to pin down. For my money, it has to do with the fact that ever since his world championship win at WrestleMania 28, WWE was really slow to smell which way the wind was blowing and turn him heel. Instead, for approximately two years after losing the world heavyweight championship, the Celtic Warrior drifted around and lost a lot of the impetus that made him interesting as a character.

While sometimes a turn can change all that, in Sheamus' case the persona wasn't really that different. Sure, he looked different with the mohawk and the braids and the theme was different, but it still felt...vanilla. That's been a lot of Sheamus' problem. For all of his good work in the ring (and he does do some very good work) he doesn't feel as exotic or as different as he should -- a strange complaint to have about a redheaded Irishman with a mohawk and braided beard. If you have a guy who seems generic you can't book him like a Mankind or a Bray Wyatt, where you know their charisma can help them to be seen as a compelling threat for the next feud. Instead, you really need to pile those wins on the board to make him seem credible.

Furthermore, he was against someone who suffers from his own lack of character depth...

It's quite possible WWE knew this and attempted to spice things up a bit by forming the League of Workers that had nothing else to do Nations. The thing about that was Sheamus was supposedly part of The Authority. So we now had another heel stable with an agenda out of nowhere. It's not as if Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, and Wade Barrett had really been anti-American up to that point -- Del Rio had teamed with Zeb Colter a month earlier, for God's sake! They were just four foreigners mashed together to come up with a stable so that the all-American Reigns could bowl them over.

It sucked. You have guys as charismatic as Barrett; as compelling in the ring as Rusev; as technically proficient and consistent as Del Rio; and as dependable as Sheamus and you can't even give them a good reason to get together aside from "there all not from here".

But of course, it wash't just heels that were existing to get Roman over.

Look, I get it Vince. You didn't see Dean Ambrose as the face of your franchise at the time. That's fine. I'll live with that. But would it kill you to at least acknowledge Ambrose might have other things to do? The Thursday night SmackDownafter the big Survivor Series coup, no less than SEVEN workers were used to try and make Roman look great- including the Lunatic Fringe, who lost clean along with the Usos to the New Day so that Roman could face the League of Nations alone and beat them by count out.

Yes you heard that right. Against FOUR MEN, including two multiple world champions Roman Reigns managed to win by count out- against a stable that had been made 2 days before. If you're not going to treat the adversaries of your supposed next big star seriously, why should people suspend their disbelief?

And the thing is, why should we care about a champion who looks like a noob even with 3 of his goons in tow?

I would like to say that the feud actually got better towards TLC but in actual fact it might of got worse. Not only did they have Roman pin Sheamus (admittedly in a tag match, but still) on the GO HOME episode of Raw, they then proceeded to have the two of them have a brawl in the last segment, even though we have seen Sheamus get his arse handed to him less than 3 hours before. Oh, and to make even worse, we had the return of Roman's awful stand up set. Though the material had changed from "suffering' succotash" it wasn't any better, claiming Sheamus was smuggling some "'tater tots" rather than potatoes.

It was so transparent and so moronically done that it did nothing to elevate this as a World Title feud. Instead what it was essentialy reduced to was "You're a scardy cat!" "Am not!" "Are to!" "Am not!".

And yet, in two nights...they (and when I say 'they' I really mean mostly Roman and Sheamus) did a lot to pull it back.

The first thing that must be said is that when Roman came out at TLC, he played it absolutely perfectly. Halfway down the steps (he was still coming in from the crowd in late 2015) a young lady pops out into the aisle way and takes a selfie, blocking his way. Roman, for his part, plays it beautifully, with a wry grin and a shake of the head, looking both bad-ass and laid back. He then goes out of his way to fist bump or slap hands with a lot of the crowd, despite the huge boos he was getting at the beginning of the match. He then proceeds to get in the ring, where Sheamus is pacing around furiously and just slowly methodically gets ready. It's very...Undertakery. It shows what WWE could have on its hands if they had allowed him to show his true self more often rather than the awful sufferin' succotash stuff he was given.

The match itself is really good, and even manages to swing the crowd due to the simple fact that the two of them beat the living hell out of each other. So while the start of it has John Cena and CM Punk chants, the end has a crowd who is excited to see Roman get the title.

Of course the League of Nations get involved and stop him (but not before a fantastic finish where Roman is crawling towards the ladder while Sheamus, on top, looks on in fear and confusion). However, in the post-match all of them eat a spear and chair shots for their troubles. This prompts Triple H to come out and attempt to restore some calm.

Now the next part of the segment has gotten mixed reviews from the Cageside community. Me, I think in the long term it may have put a crimp in their Wrestlemania feud (although to be fair there was plenty of other things that could be put down too, as we'll see). However in the short term it just felt right (it might have been even better if Stephanie had been a bit more obnoxious to start with, and if Hunter didn't oversell those chair shots like he was a soccer player angling for a penalty). This was a statement Roman needed to make, and boy did he make it. Kudos to Triple H for taking it (and for Stephanie for not getting too much in the way).

Now, they could have fired Reigns for a month and had him come back at the Rumble under some pretence. However, Vince was probably impatient to anoint the top guy and so decided on a different course of action which really didn't make much sense in the course of kayfabe.

Still, we got the return of this man the next night on Raw.


Yes Vince McMahon came back to apology from Roman Reigns? What about just firing the guy? Why are they toying around (although I did laugh when he says to Roman "now I can tell you're intimidated"). Roman Reigns' reactions during this segment are pretty good (although he goes back to the testicle material at one point) and manages to goad both McMahon and Sheamus into a title vs contract match.

Again though, why aren't we just firing the guy? Are both Sheamus and Vince that dumb? You are essentially rewarding the guy who put the COO in the hospital. It's all a bit odd.

In fact, it's all a bit...Attitude Era.

And look, I don't want to dump on all this by saying clearly this was the wrong way to go. The main event had a cool overbooked Dude Love vs Stone Cold sort of feel about it. It also helps that the both of them have an brutally stiff chemistry that is great to watch. And at the end of the match, Roman has the title held high to a cheering Philly crowd.

However, while Reigns was getting over, he wasn't Stone Cold over. And WWE made the mistake of getting too caught up in Roman punching Vince McMahon and Vince getting arrested (incidentally, when was the last time Stephanie got arrested or did something like this on TV? Two weeks back and Vince looks like a less selfish person than his daughter. Go figure). Because the thing is, while Vince was doing his damnedest to try and do a new version of the Austin feud...almost any character could punch Vince in the face and elicit a cheer. And while they could protect Roman while they had him fighting rigged matches against Sheamus with Vince as the referee, sooner or later they would have to look beyond the Celtic Warrior and the Chairman.

What they should have done is looked for good heels for Roman to get over while he got over more as a face, therefore easing him into the role of top dog and champion.

What they did instead was to completely over egg the pudding and put his championship on the line in the Royal Rumble Match in 'one vs all' showdown. Which was totally moronic.

You put Roman against Sheamus with a biased Mr McMahon and he's going to get cheered. You put Roman up against the likes of AJ Styles, Jericho, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Brock freakin' Lesnar and guess what? Roman ain't gonna be the favourite boy any more. Add to that the fact you are again treating the other competitors as an after thought with this whole '1 vs all' schtick' and WWE had essentially done their level best to put Roman right back where he was before he was beginning to get over.

Of course all of this is not helped by the fact that for the majority of the time that Roman is in the Rumble, he's in there with AJ Styles; a man whose offence is just...incredible (I will resist...). For all of Roman's virtues, and they are many, a glut of moves is not one of them. In fact, I think Roman struggles with the Royal Rumble match in general just because he finds it hard to keep busy. Too often he's in the corner rather than actually doing something.

Later of course Roman is 'mugged' halfway through the match by the League of Nations and put through a table. Which would be fine, except it also takes attention away from, oh I don't know, the match, therefore further emphasising the fact that this whole Rumble is essentially Roman's story first and foremost and everyone else can basically get in the queue. And even after the do the big spot with Rusev splashing Roman through the table, they still can't get the cameras off the fucking Chairman and the League. Indeed Kofi's elimination is missed with Cole laughingly saying "I believe Kofi Kingston was eliminated while all this action was happening outside here". As opposed to the boring Royal Rumble that was happening...Indeed, Byron Saxton admits that it's hard to call the match while the Roman Reigns stuff was going on.

Really Byron? Try.

And it takes an age for Roman to leave. We keep getting updates and cuts of Roman walking up the ramp. I saw the damn stretcher, can't I take it as read that he's leaving and get back to seeing AJ in his first WWE match? That sounds like it'd be cooler than seeing a guy limp up the ramp.

The middle part of the Rumble is actually quite entertaining, with some nice spots, including Zayn getting some revenge on Owens and the Wyatts dominating for a little while before Lesnar comes out and levels everyone. Although the Miz bit is really annoying, particularly since it's bleeding obvious and shouldn't really be allowed.

And then Roman comes back out and basically ruins everything. Because at the time Roman comes out you have Wyatt, Ambrose and Ziggler in the ring. All guys who are over with the crowd and all guys who people would be intrigued at the least to see with a WWE Championship on their waist. As soon as Roman comes out, that chance basically is wiped clear because everybody knows that the story is back on Roman.

No wonder Triple H got cheered when he came out. He was a big return, he came out at #30, and he introduced an alternative to Roman. And when you're #30 in the Rumble, everybody's reacting to you. You can't no-sell the guy coming down the ramp because he's the last guy. So Roman has to look concerned about Triple H while Triple H looks bad-ass and intense. It doesn't really work. If they kept Roman's return til after Triple H entered, then Triple H could sell looking worried and amazed.

And then of course they make Ziggler and Wyatt look like noobs so they can essentially (once again) show that it's all about Roman and Triple H. The other guys? Who cares.

And it's not like the ending doesn't give them hints. When Triple H comes face to face with a grinning Bray Wyatt, the crowd gasp. In fact, that whole sequence is beautiful, with Triple H trying to give instructions to Bray and Bray almost giving Triple H the Sister Abigail before Sheamus saves him and helps dump Bray over the top rope. That is a match that, from one face off, you could see screamed money. And when Triple H dumps Roman Reigns over the top rope (to the screams of "Yes!" of the crowd) the crowd goes nuts for the idea of a Ambrose WWE Title Reign.

But of course it's not to be and Triple H gets the win. Oh, and if you thought that the WWE would have some sort of commiserations for Ambrose coming out after the Last Man Standing Match and coming runner-up, the commentary do not mention Ambrose once after Triple H wins the title. Not. Once. They show the replay of Triple H eliminating Roman, but not the last elimination. They don't even cut to Ambrose looking on disappointed at the outside of the ring. It is indeed all about the game.

Between Survivor Series and the end of 2015, the WWE had taken some positive steps to get Roman Reigns over. By having the whole Vince vs Roman thing, they were trying a similar angle to Austin vs McMahon post-Wrestlemania 14. The trouble was, that there was no doubt Austin was the hottest star on the brand, cheered wherever he went. Furthermore, as much as Austin was 'the guy', there were other full time workers who were also over, or became over, who the WWE did not mess with (such as the Undertaker, the Rock, Triple H, Foley and more). Roman was never hot the way Austin was, and to put him in a match where you essentially made it all about HIS title and how HE was being treated unfairly by facing off against 29 other workers (as opposed to Ambrose, Ziggler, Styles, Jericho or Lesnar?) meant that you were trying to force something that at the beginning of 2016 may have happened organically if you gave him some quality heel opponents and just let him find his feet as 'the guy' in singles championship matches.

Instead WWE took something that felt organic, even with the attitude era booking, and went way over the top to the point where the push felt artificial, not earned, and at the expense of everyone else. Sooo what the 2016 Royal Rumble did was essentially, put Roman right back to where he was after the 2015 Royal Rumble.

Nice job guys...

So could they get Roman out of this familiar trench? They had one go at it, surely they had learned?


But that's part 3.

#1 Owen Hart vs Stone Cold @ Summerslam '97

#2 December to Dismember 2006

#3 The Fingerpoke of Doom

#4 The Scott Steiner vs HHH Feud

#5 Ryback vs Mark Henry @ Wrestlemania XXIX

#6 Bret Hart vs Vince McMahon @ Wrestlemania XXVI

#7 The Jerry Lawler/Michael Cole Feud

#8 The Curtain Call

#9 Bash at the Beach 2000

#10 Royal Rumble 2014

#11 Warrior/Hogan II @ Halloween Havoc

#12 The Cena/Laurinatis Feud

#13 The Firing of Ric Flair From WCW

#14 The Brogue Kick of Doom

#15 Lesnar vs Goldberg @ Wrestlemania XX

#16 Immortal Revealed @ Bound for Glory 2010

#17 Sting vs Hogan @ Starrcade 1997

#18 Triple H vs Booker T @ Wrestlemania 19

#19 The Corre

#20 The Undertaker vs Big Boss Man @ Wrestlemania 15

#21 Jeff Hardy vs Sting @ Victory Road 2011

#22 Road Wild 1999

#23 The John Cena/Kane Feud of 2012

#24 Hulk Hogan's Mancow Interview of 1999

#25 CM Punk vs the Rock @ Elimination Chamber 2013

#26 The Reign of Bill Watts in WCW

#27 The Claire Lynch Affair Part One And Two

#28 Triple H vs Kevin Nash @ TLC 2011

#29 The Cactus Jack Amnesia Angle

#30 Hulk Hogan Leaving TNA

#31 HBK vs Hulk Hogan @ Summerslam 2005

#32 David Arquette: WCW Champion

#33 Katie Vick

#34 nWo Souled Out 1997

#35 The Vampiro/Sting Feud of 2000

#36 Once in a Lifetime, Episode II

#37 The Angle/Jarrett Feud of 2010/11

#38 The McMahon/Lashley Feud

#39 The Shockmaster

#40 CM Punk vs Ryback @ Hell in a Cell 2012

#41 Hulk Hogan vs Roddy Piper @ Starrcade 1996

#42 The WWE Championship Reign of Diesel

#43 Cena vs the Wyatts

#44 The Main Roster Run of Emma

#45 The WCW Run of Bret Hart

#46 John Cena vs the Miz @ Wrestlemania 27

#47 The Lone Wolf AJ Styles

#48 Alberto Del Rio vs Jack Swagger @ Wrestlemania 29

#49 The Transition of Mike Awesome from ECW to WCW

#50 The Dolph Ziggler Conundrum Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five

#51 The Rise and Fall of Damien Sandow/Mizdow Part One and Part Two

#52 DDP & Jay Leno vs Hollywood Hogan & Eric Bischoff @ Road Wild 1998

#53 Triple H vs Randy Orton @ Wrestlemania 25

#54 Lord Tensai

#55 LOD 2000

#56 Sid Vicious vs Scott Steiner @ Starrcade 2000

#57 Bret Hart vs Yokuzuna (feat. Hulk Hogan) @ Wrestlemania 9

#58 Royal Rumble 2015

#59 The Crucifixion of the Sandman

#60 Brock Lesnar's First Year Back in WWE

#61 Bo Dallas' Main Roster Run

#62 Vince Russo vs Booker T for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

#63 Randy Orton vs the Big Show @ Survivor Series 2013

#64 AJ Styles vs Abyss @ Destination X 2010

#65 EV 2.0

#66 The Summer of Punk Part 1; Part 2; Part 3

#67 The Lex Express

#68 Goldberg's first WWE Run

#69 Paige's Main Roster Run 2014-2016

#70 Seth Rollins' First World Title Run

#71 Hulk Hogan vs Sgt Slaughter @ Wrestlemania VII

#72 Sting vs Abyss in a Last Rites Match

#73 The Undertaker vs Big Show in the Punjabi Prison

#74 Ric Flair vs Hollywood Hogan @ Uncensored 1999

#75 Roman Reigns' Road to Wrestlemania 32 Part One

The InVasion Saga

Article One: Shane has a surprise for Daddy

Article Two: Booker T vs Buff Bagwell and the Temple of Boos

Article Three: Daddy's little Girl Gets in on the Action


The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.