To some he’s the Good Guy. To some he’s The Guy. And to others he’s the Bad Guy.
With Roman Reigns, outside perceptions of him didn’t seem to matter much to his pursuits. Whether he was cheered or booed, Roman took center stage of WWE between the tail end of 2015 and for much of 2016. Then he violated WWE’s Wellness Policy. That’s a no-no with the person whose opinion matters the most: Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
Say what you will regarding WWE and the history of substance abuse within the company. The fact of the matter is that today’s wrestlers do not look like the stars of yesteryear. Let’s just think back to all the mid-card players of the Attitude Era and how their physical statures and physiques would tower over much of today’s title contenders.
Clearly much of the sport has been cleaned up. And when superstars violate the rules they get suspended accordingly. Roman Reigns just happens to be the biggest name of all the recent violators. How Brock Lesnar was able to “pass” his wellness tests with WWE, yet got bagged by UFC, evades me, but that’s a topic for another day.
Regardless, Roman violated a rule of some sort. What exactly, we don’t know. Ever since the announcement of his violation things have been going downhill for the Big Dog.
Of course I say that with a grain of salt. Most superstars would kill to be in the spot Roman’s in now. Roman has to be judged on a different scale. I mean the guy won the WWE WHC on 3 different occasions between November 2015-April 2016. He was never pinned clean on WWE television while on the main roster. Roman’s violation of the Wellness Policy was publicly disclosed the day after Money in the Bank (where he lost to Seth Rollins). Rumor has it WWE brass knew about the violation the day of the PPV and that could have factored into his loss.
Before being pinned clean by Seth Rollins at Money in the Bank you have to go back to his NXT days to find a clean loss. The man who pinned him is no longer with the company and was also a violator of WWE’s Wellness Policy: Adam Rose.
To make matters worse for Roman, he was suspended by WWE for 30 days right after Money in the Bank. His very next match was in the main event of Battleground against Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. Once again, Reigns ate the pin courtesy of a Dirty Deeds from Dean Ambrose. That’s 2 straight pinfall losses for a guy who never took pins. If that’s not punishment I don’t know what is.
Roman was still a top-tier pick for Monday Night Raw at the WWE Draft. But the fact that the guy who was essentially the face of the company for a year was not taken in the 1st round has to be troubling.
Roman is now next in line to go after Rusev and his United States Championship. I can hardly call that a punishment, but we will have to see how the feud plays out. At the end of the day Roman would obviously like to be chasing the Universal Championship, but for now he’ll have to make the best of his situation.
This is the feud to make for right now. Rusev is an animal. He’s the Super Athlete. He’s on one of the best tears of his career. Rusev is dialed in like never before and is looking to make this US Title reign better than his last one.
Rusev and Reigns are physical, dynamic tanks that have the potential to steal the show at SummerSlam. The result will be very telling either way. If Rusev can hold onto his belt and win the feud he will gain all kinds of recognition and credibility. If Reigns loses he may get lost in purgatory and may float along the mid-card.
If Reigns wins I’m not sure what his US Title reign would look like. I do know that a title loss for Rusev would set him back after the hard work he has been putting in ever since departing the League of Nations.
Yes, Roman Reigns shot himself in the foot by violating the Wellness Policy. Yes, he irked the Big Boss of the WWE. Yes, he may have hindered his relationship with the WWE Universe.
Nonetheless, he holds all the marbles. He can restore his reputation by putting on a hell of a feud with Rusev.
All I can say is he laid down a blueprint for success by ambushing Rusev’s Wedding Celebration on Monday Night Raw last night.
by: Kevin D’Hooge