At Crown Jewel, Roman Reigns successfully defended his Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against LA Knight, who, despite the loss, proved to be a worthy challenger for The Tribal Chief.
Meanwhile, on social media, wrestling fans are having a meltdown over Reigns’ victory. Specifically, they’re upset with how he won, which was through his usual form of nefarious means.
And it intrigues me because internet wrestling fans are said to be quite knowledgeable about the industry. But in times like this, some of them may not fully understand or remember the character Roman Reigns portrays and how that’s been a recipe for success in pro wrestling for years.
Roman Reigns is a classic wrestling villain, and it’s a common trait for villains to resort to cheating in order to secure victory. In doing so, Reigns adheres to his role as a bad guy or heel. This tactic allows the babyface, or “good guys,” to maintain their strength because they have a valid excuse for losing.
And with each passing event, fans become increasingly frustrated. Yet, despite their growing bitterness, they continue to tune in, hoping to see Roman Reigns get defeated. That Reigns has again exasperated fans means that WWE is effectively engaging its vast audience, contrary to the complaints of the internet wrestling community.
It’s no different than when the National Wrestling Alliance was at its zenith, with Ric Flair as its top star. Flair’s ability to provoke fans resulted in sold-out arenas in the hopes of seeing someone, anyone, finally muffling him by winning the World Heavyweight Championship.
Going back further, the American Wrestling Association prospered from 1975 through 1980, with the sly Nick Bockwinkel as its centerpiece, as he broke rules and hearts on his way to retaining his title. Half a century before Bockwinkel, there was Ed “Strangler” Lewis, who had a literal stranglehold on wrestling’s world championship throughout the 1920s. One of his reigns lasted over a thousand days, thanks to his sneaky tactics, although they were less theatrical and more subtle. Despite this, mat buffs at the time showed up in droves to see Lewis fall.
As the attention that Reigns’ Crown Jewel victory is showing, the reliable formula of having a villainous world champion in charge is as fruitful as ever. And as Reigns accumulates more victories and WWE constantly highlights his proximity to breaking legendary records held by the likes of Hulk Hogan and Bruno Sammartino (and let’s not forget Bob Backlund), it becomes evident that the Head of the Table is far from reaching the midpoint of his remarkable championship run.
And for Roman Reigns’ detractors, that could likely mean many more spears, countless more tears, and continued box office success in the years to come.