REIGNS-O-METER #115: Tracking the Tribal Chief’s ability to battle Owens in a cage and sustain an NFL lead-in while leaving with his Universal Title

By Tom Colohue, PWTorch contributor


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

Roman Reigns is the biggest draw in wrestling. Don’t believe me? Check out the ratings for this week’s Christmas Day WWE Smackdown. Huge. Massive. Throbbing. I’m getting sidetracked. Basically, it’s all down to Roman Reigns and is in no way related to any other factor, including Christmas Day, a pretty hefty NFL lead in, or opening with a Universal Championship cage match.

Okay, maybe it’s also down to Charlotte Flair, but I will only accept that in a minor manner.

Hollywood Roman Reigns opened the show, coming down to the ring with his title and his pet Heyman. Flanked by two Christmas trees and greeted by the most electronic of boos, Roman would be facing Kevin Owens on a card full of very high-quality wrestling. Smackdown was genuinely a great show this week. He stared down the cage, which didn’t stare back, and popped his pyro in the middle of a Michael Cole speech. Perfect timing.

Kevin Owens, as you might expect, is eager for his rematch. At TLC, Owens essentially fought a hardcore handicap match with odds stacked so high that it reminded me of when Roman Reigns faced Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho in a hardcore handicap match at the Royal Rumble years ago. The cage is supposed to keep people out, but I think it’s been a good two decades since it’s succeeded at that.

My expectation was that Jey Uso would be diving off the cage at some point. That was my first thought when the match was announced.

Cages don’t work as intended. Even the Hell in a Cell religiously fails to keep people out. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho have history with Seth Rollins on that one as well. Elimination Chambers don’t stop Shawn Michaels. The WWE might need to introduce some sort of lockdown match. Maybe slightly more lethal.

The match is a lot of fun. Hard hitting and high tempo. No messing around. I know I’m not alone in being a big fan of the Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg match for this title many years ago in which they just spammed finishers, broke things, and Brock Lesnar essentially only won because of a leapfrog. Who saw that one coming? It’s not quite that but still lots of big moves and late kick outs. There’s some added choking if you’re into that. I don’t want to judge your fetishes.

Roman Reigns kicks out of both the Pop-up Powerbomb and the stunner, reminiscent of old odds-beating Roman. I would like to say that Roman sells a stunner perfectly. Some people don’t take it well at all – see Vince McMahon – and others such as Triple H always took it perfectly. It’s supposed to stun you; go full dead fish.

Kevin Owens however, doesn’t take it lying down. With blood on his forehead – think that time he headbutted Vince McMahon because reasons – Owens proves that one spear won’t be enough to put him away. Usually this many finisher kickouts are saved for either WrestleMania or any NXT main event. This is big.

And then comes Jey Uso to stop Owens leaving the cage in what has to be one of the most predictable surprises we’ve seen. This is so WWE, it’s basically a swerve in a WWE t-shirt. Jey Uso, showing some serious strategic thinking, reaches through the cage to handcuff Kevin Owens, preventing Owens from being able to leave but still leaving him space to dangle his feet. It’s a great visual. I’ll happily forgive the obvious Jey Uso swerve just because of how clever a visual that is.

I do have to ask though: when did Roman Reigns stop being able to win matches? He used to have to overcome much greater odds than this and he reliably did so week in and week out. Nowadays he either avoids wrestling or he escapes with his title due to help at the last minute. Roman is a seasoned, experienced winner. A wry guy. A try guy. A never say die guy. Nowadays Kevin Owens is right about him; he’s a little bitch.

Owens is yet to have a clear shot at Roman. Apparently, WWE is fine with this.

The show continues without further Roman as the viewership would slowly decline, ending on a still higher-than-average number.  WWE stacked the show big, with proven draws in Reigns, Owens, Banks, and Flair early in the show, Daniel Bryan saved until late on to retain and a big feel good ending. It felt like WWE Smackdown and also a bit like Christmas. We even had a very promising run out for Bianca Belair. A very good show indeed.


CATCH UP… REIGNS-O-METER #114: Tracking the Tribal Chief’s ability to check in on KO’s family, beat the odds, and remain on top

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