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Roman Reigns has always been my hero. The WWE’s sizable canine used to walk down that ramp with his trademark smugness to a chorus of boos and that one loud cheer from the young whippersnapper that was your Reigns-o-meter writer. Forty years ago, my grandfather got a tattoo of Roman Reigns on his bicep and that tradition came down from his great grandparents all the way down to me.
Now though, things have changed. The Roman Empire is now bad, evil, twisted, and cool. And you love it. Fans are so heavily behind this change that Roman Reigns might be more popular now than he ever has been. Meanwhile, I cried so hard I flooded a small Welsh village last week.
We haven’t seen much of Roman recently. Since stepping away from the WWE in March, there’s been a Big Dog-shaped hole at the top of the card, particularly on the company’s flagship Smackdown show. I know some people say that Raw is the flagship show but, come on, Roman’s on Smackdown. Sort your head out. Braun Strowman was flown in late to take on Goldberg and spent four months engaged in a long-term feud with the many-faced Fiend.
These were dark times for Smackdown and for the WWE in general. Low ratings? Lack of Roman. AEW winning the head-to-head ratings war on Wednesdays? If only Roman had been there. In fact, since Roman stepped away, A.J. Styles has been buried alive by The Undertaker, and Aleister Black and Rey Mysterio were thrown off the top floor of a skyscraper never to be seen again. Those were dark times, people! We were looking at a state of emergency by the time Summerslam in the Thunderdome rolled around.
We were told we would never see it coming. What was it? Who was it? How was it? It was pretty good, I’m not going to lie. As The Fiend and Braun Strowman engaged in their third big title match of the year, tearing up furniture as they did, Roman Reigns was waiting in the wings. Had he done his oral exercises to make sure he could roar properly? Was the aim of his spear well practiced? Was his hair wet enough? Good god man, was his hair wet enough!?
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.
Roman would return with a display of delightful ferocity. He would strategically wait until the match had finished because of the reasons and then come out guns blazing, spearing through both men and making The Fiend look positively ordinary. The Monster, down. The Fiend, down. Big Dog rising. Big Dog victorious. The ghost of Big Dog yet to come.
Six days later, Roman Reigns returned to Smackdown. It was the longest six days of my life. It delivered too. I was expecting just to see Roman cut a promo talking about retiring some veteran or winning a title several times. Instead, Roman evaded the camera. He dodged the spotlight and walked away from the big storyline. WWE’s hashtag top guy hid backstage while Adam Pearce was cast out into the wilderness in search of wild signatures. Simply by being there, the Big Dog sent Retribution packing all the way to Monday Night Raw and they never returned.
Finally, the great revelation. In the final seconds of Smackdown, we went backstage to a corridor Roman was apparently using as an office and saw, via the medium of clever camerawork, that Roman Reigns had joined forces with one of the greatest evils ever known, Paul Heyman.
Dick Togo was apparently the first option but he already had something in the pipeline. A lot of Val Venis jokes were left on the cutting room floor and we should all be disappointed that it never happened.
The question since then has been the same as it has always been. Will you accept Roman Reigns as your Tribal Chief? Well, will you? In my household, Roman Reigns was a religion. We have worshiped at that altar for millennia. Thomas Jefferson ran for President on the back of his fanatical devotion to Reigns. One nation, under Big Dog.
At WWE Payback, only one week after Smackdown, Roman Reigns joined the fight late. He signed his contract right before coming down, hitting a couple of spears, and walking away as the new Universal Champion. He showed up, wrecked everything, and left. Ooh, wreck everything and leave? That’d be a good slogan, that. I should write that down.
Lately, we’ve seen Roman standing alongside Paul Heyman, reigning in his not quite manager and demanding more from his cousin Jey Uso. Through classic tactics like subtle changes in facial expression, doing a lot more talking in the middle of matches and absolutely destroying his opponents, we saw something completely new and enjoyable. We finally had a heel Roman; someone we could cheer and love and clap for. You know, a proper heel. Don’t we all want to cheer heels? That’s the point, right?
Braun Strowman on last night’s Smackdown was banished from Roman’s kingdom. The Fiend left ahead of time, knowing that his moment might never come. We all live in the world of Reigns now.
And so here we are in a new generation. Roman Reigns wants Jey Uso, and by extension all of us, to accept him as his Tribal Chief. Much like Velveteen Dream challenging Aleister Black to say his name, all Roman wants is for us all to accept the truth. To know what he has always known, what Paul Heyman has always known, and what Vince McMahon has always known. Roman Reigns is the one. Roman Reigns is the hero. Roman Reigns is the champion.
History be damned. Forget all that came before. This is the champion we’ve always had. This is what has always been in there. See him, love him, buy all of his merch.
It’s time to stop fighting it. Bow your heads. Roman Reigns is The Man.