SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Smackdown this week featured limited Roman Reigns, but his role impacted the landscape of the WWE and its champions going forwards. Not only does Roman Reigns get to elude the Elimination Chamber himself, but he also didn’t need Shane McMahon to open his show to try and pop a rating.
Roman Reigns, you see, reads his contracts. He checks his paperwork. Or, at the very least, Paul Heyman checks his paperwork. While Drew McIntyre was walked into a title defense inside the chamber, Roman was able to use a combination of forethought and his trademark intimidation to completely dodge that bullet. Instead, he’ll be able to take on whoever wins in the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match. Sloppy seconds? Easy pickings at the very least.
Are there any winners in the Elimination Chamber? It sure seems as though anybody who walks into that match with Roman would be barely able to compete.
Roman’s issues with Edge weren’t really highlighted this week. Edge didn’t turn up. He stayed at home instead. With this in mind, the WWE reverted to type. They threw Kevin Owens back into the picture. Meanwhile, the rest of Smackdown was built around filling that chamber. Roman Reigns himself stayed out of the spotlight. He hovered backstage, aggressively hating Adam Pearce. He is likely the only person to hate Adam Pearce lately.
While not directly involved in the rest of the show, Roman did send some people out to take action on his behalf. The advice that Roman gave to Apollo Crews is certainly paying dividends. Crews is not only a stronger competitor now but he is also a much smoother talker. The feud with Big E is picking up. Apollo Crews hovered at ringside to make sure Big E and Shinsuke Nakamura couldn’t have a good match. Or maybe Crews was protecting Big E from an impending low blow. Nakamura does have a penchant for aiming low.
At the same time, Jey Uso was tasked with putting down whoever won the main event. This ended up being Cesaro and Daniel Bryan. As to whether or not that worked out, you’ll have to tell me. After one swing of a chair, Jey Uso wasn’t able to do much more. Baron Corbin and Sami Zayn would also get involved before the old fashioned arrival of Stone Cold Kevin Owens to clear the ring. The standard big brawl format is tried and true. Everybody gets to have a bit of a scrap nowadays.
As to what else happened, we may have been given a small glimpse of Roman’s destiny. The return of Seth Rollins showed us a man who thinks that Smackdown needed a leader. Smackdown already has a leader. There is already a head of the table. There is already a mafia don living large and in charge. While Seth’s return saw him treated as a top star and lined him up against Cesaro, this is yet another man potentially in line to face Roman.
How many does that make now? Daniel Bryan tangled with Jey Uso, but never really got into a feud with Roman. Owens is obviously lined up, as is anybody that Adam Pearce is working alongside. You’ll forgive me a slight watering of the mouth at the idea of Roman Reigns vs. Sonya Deville.
Shinsuke Nakamura had a moment, though it seems to have burnt out. Meanwhile, Big E has a potential feud by extension given Roman’s work with Apollo Crews. Jey Uso himself still has some lingering tension. Now we’re adding more names to the mix. Cesaro, Baron Corbin and Sami Zayn are now happily picking fights at the top level and putting themselves in the line of fire. Roman Reigns is picking up enemies. Add in Edge hovering in the background and the big dog is starting to look like the big besieged.
Roman’s WrestleMania opponent isn’t necessarily clear. That isn’t a bad thing. With the wealth of potential opponents growing, Smackdown is growing and its main event scene is stronger than ever. Thinking back even a year to Roman Reigns, we saw something very different. While everything is still built around Roman now as it was then, we’re now seeing everybody benefit. Roman Reigns is the blue kingmaker. All in his orbit are being elevated.
Someone will be stepping into the ring with Roman Reigns at the Elimination Chamber, just as someone will at WrestleMania. I wouldn’t be putting money on Edge choosing Roman just yet.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REIGNS-O-METER: REIGNS-O-METER #120: An irritated Roman Reigns face to face with Edge