Roman Reigns is the best wrestler in the WWE.
Don’t believe it? Well, it doesn’t matter because Vince McMahon owns professional wrestling in the United States, and if he says that fans will watch Roman Reigns as the top guy then they will watch him.
As most predicted months ago, Roman will officially challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal title at Wrestlemania 34 after he won the Elimination Chamber match to become the number one contender. The eventual victory for the belt at WM will be yet another culmination of the Reigns super push that has continued over the past four years. In the expected fashion, Braun eliminated the competition from the chamber, implying that he’s the unstoppable monster, but that build up was simply to further highlight Roman as the only one in the field of top stars that could pin the monster.
Very similar to the way Braun was built throughout the chamber match to be fed Roman, the Universal champion is on the same path. After Lesnar beat Goldberg, who had an unexpected run as a result of the tremendous reaction he received during his return, at WM 33 to claim the championship, he was promoted as the unbeatable champion. Brock beat Samoa Joe, Strowman, and Kane in various matches throughout the rest of his current title run to emphasize his dominance. The momentum that both Joe and Strowman had earlier this year were used to build the status of Brock, who will ultimately be used to push Roman with the title win at WM 34. The conclusion of Wrestlemania will be a plan that was a year in the making, an aspect that further demonstrates the glass ceiling that exist within the WWE landscape. An athlete can work their way to the spot of the most over star on the roster, the way Braun is right now, and it will be secondary to the plans for Reigns.
WWE brass is “all-in” on Roman Reigns, and no amount of booing from the fans will change that plan.
The reason why is very simple, until it affects revenue, and it won’t, there’s no reason for management to change their path. It’s common knowledge to even the most casual fan that Roman Reigns is the featured WWE star, and earlier this month during a conference call, management touted record-setting revenue of $801 million and profits of nearly $40 million. Clearly, Vince is doing something right. At the very least, Reigns isn’t enough to make fans decide to stop spending money on the product. So, from a business prospective, the Roman Reigns push is successful. Keep in mind, drawing money is the entire point of any business. Vince doesn’t care if fans pay to cheer Reigns or if they pay to boo him, as long as they buy tickets and network subscriptions, the goal is accomplished.
Granted, the direction of sports entertainment industry was dictated by the fans in the past because they voted with their dollars. If fans didn’t approve of what they saw on Raw, they could change the channel to Nitro. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the lack of competition within sports entertainment led to complacency for the WWE. If Vince still battled Ted Turner for ratings and pay-per-view buys, would Roman get another WM push after three failed attempts? It’s a harsh reality, but if the general public wants to watch pro wrestling then they will watch WWE. Yes, there are independent promotions, but casual fans are a different demographic and the WWE has 95% of the market. Now, management tells the fans what product is there, and in most cases, wrestling fans will find something they enjoy to justify the time they invest in the product.
The most vocal objections to Reigns are from the diehard fans because those fans are the most aware of the reasons why he gets the forced push. However, their objections are moot because diehard fans follow the product regardless so until the general public rejects Roman, there’s no reason to halt his push. Again, business is about money and WWE just had the highest revenue in the history of the company so why change anything?
The other major factor is that Roman Reigns is the prime example of the WWE system because he was trained from scratch after he signed a developmental deal in 2010 because of his last name. If management throws in the towel on Roman as the next John Cena, what does that say about their system to build talent? An entire performance center was built with the theory that the WWE machine can make stars.
So, make no mistake about it, “Big Dawg” will beat Lesnar for the title at WM and he will continue to be the most pushed competitor on the roster. Will the fans suddenly embrace him? Probably not, but it won’t make a difference. You can’t blame Reigns either, he works hard and he’s just doing what he’s told, and it’s disappointing that the writing team doesn’t help the situation. At the same time, the fans have every right to be hostile as well because they’ve made it more than clear that they don’t approve of the anointed champion. It doesn’t matter how many scripted matches he wins, the fans don’t think Reigns has “earned” his spot. If he has or not depends on who you ask, but if Joe Anoaʻi didn’t fail at a football career, would Roman Reigns be granted the top spot? His last name is legendary, but the bottom line is, Reigns is only a sports entertainer because he didn’t make it in the NFL.
Braun might be the most over star on the roster, but it doesn’t matter because he’s not Reigns. As mentioned, the company is making major cash so Roman at the top isn’t a problem now. But, if missing the boat on several talents during the super push leads to a lack of money-drawing stars in a few years is a different situation. Essentially, the opportunity cost to force the Reigns push is the chance to capitalize on the popularity of other stars when they have the momentum to be elevated to the next level. Strowman got over organically and spontaneously, which is the exact opposite of the road that Roman took to the top spot. Arguably, it’s Braun’s time to become a big star and he should be the one to take the title from Lesnar at WM 34. On the flip side, WWE brass has too much invested in Reigns to change plans and at this point, if he doesn’t work the main event scene, what else is he going to do? He already had the “consolation prizes” of the US and IC belts between main event title runs. Plus, the Shield reunion already happened to try to build him up just prior to the start of the road to Wrestlemania.
The demand might be to see Braun vs. Brock, or maybe anyone else that was in the chamber to get the main event spot of Wrestlemania, but Vince McMahon decided that Roman Reigns is the “best” option for the company so there will be another lackluster conclusion to the biggest show of the year.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
E mail firstname.lastname@example.org | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta
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