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Roman Reigns is one of the most dramatic, divisive and discussed WWE performers in history. The company makes desperate play after desperate play to make him your favourite graps guy – with limited success. How do they do it? What do they do?
I’m Tom Colohue and this is the Monday Night Reigns-o-Meter.
And you thought WWE were pushing Roman Reigns before.
Ladies and gentleman, we have finally reached peak Roman. After a sixteen month title reign we as an audience finally got so bored of Brock Lesnar that we were willing to do the unthinkable and cheer for Roman Reigns. Now the Roman Empire is in full swing. Vince McMahon has what he wants. We’re left with only one future; the era of Reigns.
Let’s start by looking on the bright side. Brock Lesnar no longer has the Universal Championship. The supposedly hideous belt that Brooklyn previously spent a whole Rollins vs Balor match booing is finally visible and on Raw week in and week out again. It is done. It’s over. Everything that we wanted finally came to pass. Roman Reigns is the Universal champion.
It makes it sound as though those two things are related, doesn’t it?
The expectation was that the main event for this year’s Summerslam would be a long, joyless affair featuring a metric ton of beach balls, sixteen Mexican waves and more CM Punk than his entire UFC career to date. Someone did manage to sneak in a beach ball, as that’s essentially part of Roman’s gimmick now, but all in all Braun Strowman’s arrival managed to keep things exciting.
Millions of beach balls, beach balls for me. Roman’s a big dog, on my TV.
Braun Strowman’s bold claim about lack of cowardice – though he was in no mood to just join the match and turn it into a triple threat apparently – meant that the crowd were hot going into this. The subsequent brief match, featuring only superman punches and spears for Roman and only German suplexes for Brock Lesnar, kept the mood going. Seven hours we were told. Summerslam will be seven hours. In the end minus the pre-show it lasted almost exactly four.
So at the end of a Summerslam featuring plenty of squash, lots of heat and some truly ridiculous spots, the night was ended with Roman Reigns waggling his crotch in Paul Heyman’s face, standing tall as the new top man of the business.
Or, you know, the same top man of the business from the last six years.
And so, as a champion, we move into Raw, where Roman once again opens the show to a chorus of boos. He drags his belt behind him in his usual smug, entitled way. He calls out Finn Balor to come to the ring and challenges him to a Universal title match in the main event. Naturally, this guarantees a high rating going into the final segments but, even more importantly, it null and voids any claim Finn Balor has to a rematch for the Universal Championship in future.
For two years, that’s been Balor’s calling card. Not any more it’s not.
Baron Corbin emerges, looking suave as always. The new hair has really taken him to the next level, hasn’t it? He speaks truth to Balor, explaining that the Demon King wasn’t planned. He speaks truth about not hearing the bell the night before – he literally didn’t react to the bell ring in any way and was attacked when he wasn’t looking – but nobody cares. He speaks truth to Roman Reigns, declaring that the only reason Lesnar lost was due to the distraction of Braun Strowman. The fans cheer as Roman tells him to shut up and that he sucks.
Do fans still cheer for faces or just heels? Hard to tell in this segment.
Most importantly though, it’s made official by Kurt Angle. Reigns vs Balor in the main event.
Shortly afterwards, Paul Heyman tries to get Brock Lesnar a rematch and he is denied. Interesting given that rematches are supposedly contractually mandated. Brock Lesnar was announced for this instalment of Raw weeks ago by the arena in a leak that infuriated WWE and fandom around the world. He didn’t show.
But that’s his gimmick now, to be fair.
Just before the main event we get a backstage Roman Reigns promo, starting with a tasty close up of his chest. The Universal title sits on a box behind Renee Young where it could easily stolen. Of course off camera Renee had to remind him that it was there in the first place. Roman’s used to having no title you see. He talks up Finn Balor’s credentials, before then dismissing him off hand entirely.
Yeah, Finn’s not winning this, is he? And you thought WWE were pushing Roman Reigns before.
Roman Reigns, the main event once again, comes out to headline a Raw so stacked that it featured Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in segments that absolutely could not have been done without them. I mean, they were definitely absolutely vital, am I right?
Balor comes out first, his beard freshly trimmed but lacking in Demon King paint, enters first to a fierce display of popularity from the crowd. Someone new at the top of the tree could be a huge deal for Finn Balor. It could open a slot for an up and comer to reach the top of the mountain and this week was heavy on pushing Balor. Sadly, their match ends up as a sideshow to another angle.
As with so many things before, everything is secondary to The Shield. The match is good but everybody was waiting for Braun Strowman.
Mid-match, Strowman would stroll down to the ring, offering a distraction that very nearly took Finn Balor straight to the Universal title. Instead, the match finished while Strowman was walking down. He slid into the ring, eager to cash in and with the whole arena behind him. Balor didn’t just have a shot, he had a fair shot. However, WWE protected Balor from taking the loss by using Braun Strowman, someone the crowd were desperate to cheer.
And then, to protect Braun Strowman from taking a near inevitable loss, The Shield arrived, something that the crowd was desperate to cheer.
Well this is a problem. Roman Reigns has got back up.
Maybe it’s not just Ambrose looking at a heel turn? A heel Shield at the top of the tree could make a whole world of difference indeed.
And you thought WWE were pushing Roman Reigns before.
– Brock Lesnar
– Braun Strowman
– Baron Corbin
– Finn Balor
– Braun Strowman Again
Did Roman Reigns beat the odds?
Looks awfully like a brand new push, eh?
Balor, no rematch.
Owens, no rematch.
Goldberg, no rematch.
Lesnar, no rematch?
— Tom Colohue (@Colohue) August 20, 2018