There are arguments for and against Roman Reigns as the hardest pushed star in WWE. As a fan of his work more generally, I take no issue with Vince McMahon putting the full weight of his promotional muscle behind the chiseled Samoan big man. It’s probably the right call for business. It’s probably right. I don’t know. Probably.
The strongest argument against him — which may actually double as the strongest argument for him, in a sense — is that he’s so divisive. It may help WWE’s bottom line for fans to get all up in arms about the validity of Reigns as the top of the food chain in the biggest pro wrestling company in the world but it robs us of that moment.
That moment is this:
That is a video of a group of Buffalo Bills fans shot earlier today. They had watched their beloved team defeat the Miami Dolphins not long before and had turned their collective attention to the Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens game, for the fate of their season rested on its outcome. The Bengals, who had blown a double digit lead and were trailing by three, were facing 4th and 12 at the Baltimore 49 yard line. Andy Dalton, who spent the entire second half under heavy pressure from a fierce Ravens pass rush, stepped up in the pocket, found the soft spot in the defense, and delivered a strike to Tyler Boyd, who turned upfield and scampered into the end zone for what would prove to be the winning touchdown.
Though you can’t see it, you know when this happens in the video above because you can both hear and, more importantly, feel their joy in two parts: the first thunderous explosion when Boyd makes the catch, giving the Bengals at the very least a first down and a shot at eventually winning the game, and the follow up boom when he broke a tackle and scored to put Cincinnati ahead.
I could watch this video a million times and never get tired of it. It is the purest expression of joy amongst a large group of people you will ever see, a collective united by a shared love for something and their happiness at witnessing the success of that something. Every single person in that video is a fan of the Buffalo Bills, and likely has been for some time, which means they have suffered for 18 years without their team reaching the NFL’s postseason. They came together here in a state of extreme tension and anxiety, entirely dependent on forces beyond their control, surely aware of the insanity of that fact but too caught up in it to care, and together they experienced the absolute ecstasy of that tension breaking with the outcome each one of them so desired.
It would certainly appear that as long as Roman Reigns is the guy Vince McMahon wants to push to the top as the standard bearer in WWE, we aren’t going to get that moment, not unlike the fact that it took a long time for John Cena to slow down just enough to give us a glimpse of it once more in 2014. That was the last time we had it: when Daniel Bryan won the WWE world heavyweight championship in the main event of WrestleMania 30 and the entire world did a “YES” chant with him.
I want moments like that in WWE again.