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Let’s not forget about Roman Reigns...

Roman Reigns

Last time on “Matthew Rants About Things” we discussed which of the two more-likely contenders to the Universal Championship should get the ball and run with it. And while you all offered many good supporting arguments between Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman (and the votes were pretty split between them), only very few of you mentioned Roman Reigns. Granted, he wasn’t included in the article but I thought more people would discuss him since, for the past four years, he’s been the focal point of discussion when it comes to “future champions.”

And yet, since Greatest Royal Rumble (which saw Roman challenge for the title again, and lose...again) and subsequent wet fart of a match with Samoe Joe, Roman has quietly slipped off the radar. That might be by design; it certainly wouldn’t be the first time WWE pushed Roman hard for ‘Mania season then backed off him when fan unrest peaked (only to bring him back for another monster push for the next ‘Mania). This one feels different, however. Other than a passing reference from Michael Cole about how Roman considers himself the “uncrowned Universal Champion” Roman’s basically been booked and treated like every other midcarder. Might this be the end of the Roman Reigns experiment?

Is the Pope Lutheran?

So while we debate Seth or Braun and wonder about the next six months of WWE main-event booking, let’s not sleep on the guy who is just one Vince McMahon whim away from being right back in the Title hunt. The real question is not if Roman will return to the main-event, but what WWE will do with him when he does. Will they continue booking him as they’ve done in the past, unconcerned about the mixture of unhappiness and apathy that such booking entails (a far cry from the mixture of euphoria and frustration that followed Cena around four years into his main-event push) or will they go in a new direction?

Maybe they should just pick a story and stick with it. So far they’ve struggled even doing that one basic thing.

Over the past six months Roman Reigns has gone from being “loyal company man” who is here every week unlike that jerk Brock, to being a mistreated employee who isn’t given opportunities to compete for and lose the title.

Over the past four years he’s gone from being a John Cena wannabe, cracking corny (Vince McMahon-esque) jokes and making goofy faces, to being a Stone Cold wannabe, talking little, kicking names and taking ass.

What is Roman? Is he Superman or Batman? ‘Cause those are two very different people. Is he a knight in shining armor or a mercenary? Is he too cool for school or someone who awkwardly says the words “too cool for school”? Pick a lane, WWE.

Half of Roman’s problems would be solved if WWE would just commit to him one way or another. If they want him to be the guy against the fans wishes then do it. If they want to listen to the fans and push someone else then fine, but don’t bring him back and push him every ‘Mania season and then drop him like a luke-warm potato. If you want him to be Cena 2.0 then lean into that, stick with it and let him organically develop his character around that template. Instead, the constant character resets and soft-reboots have only consistently stalled him during what should have been the first half of his decade-long run at (or near) the top.

As stated a while back, Roman is four years into his main-event “push” (start and stop though it may be), and yet he feels just as stuck in first gear as he did when his push started. Contrast that with Cena who, four years after winning the title at WrestleMania 21, was the established face of the company, to the point where it was kind of a big deal that he wasn’t topping the bill at the 25th (Anniversary of?) WrestleMania. Cena also was a different character after four years of main-eventing, but those changes came subtly and naturally, the way all TV show characters evolve within the framework of their archetype over the course of multiple seasons. It’s only when a character jumps back and forth from one character persona to another that fans notice and react harshly.

WWE needs to decide who Roman Reigns is and stick with it. They certainly have enough money not to care, so why not absorb the initial speed bumps that come with an initially-disliked character and let him slowly develop into something worth rooting for. Granted, I’d rather they just turn him heel and turn him loose, but that’s too crazy an idea even to consider, apparently.

I mean, come on: Vince McMahon has money but that doesn’t make him rational.

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