HEYDORN’S TAKE: And the man who should dethrone Roman Reigns is?

Analysis of the WWE Raw hits and misses

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Bron Breakker.

*ducks*

Ha! I was ready for that slap in the face to wake up. I’m not dreaming though and this is as real as it gets. Bron Breakker needs to be the guy that dethrones Roman Reigns. I get it, you might be kicking and screaming, but come along on this journey with me anyway.

Roman Reigns is synonymous with big business in WWE. He’s held down the top spot in the company during a time where they’ve altered the business model and leveraged assets, content, and live entertainment ratings to secure gargantuan rights fees for their product, leading to record revenues. The alteration greatly distanced fan appreciation from business success and Reigns was the face of that divide too, being pushed as a babyface for years against overwhelmingly negative crowd reactions. Business may have boomed regardless of whom had been at the top of the food chain during this period, but Reigns was and at the very least didn’t mess anything up. He was safe.

As we enter 2022, Roman Reigns still is synonymous with big business in WWE, but not just because he’s the face a company raking in millions. Roman Reigns equals big business because of the body of work he’s compiled since returning at Summerslam 2020. Reigns found a nuanced heel character that comes across as genuine and presents itself as the star of stars in WWE. He hasn’t lost a match since 2019 either and his run as WWE Universal Champion has heat, which has elevated the aura and credibility of the title.

There is business equity in the Reigns character, but the equity only matters if you cash in on it effectively. So, who gets the rub? Who does the win over Reigns do the most for? Who beating Reigns helps the company more?

Well, first you look toward upcoming talent. Not just young talent in terms of age, but talent that isn’t yet annoyingly planted in the main roster doldrums. Why? Those crops of guys are too defined already. They’re made, but only in the light that Vince McMahon sees them and it’s nearly impossible to pry them out of that definition once caged in it. So, sorry Bobby Lashley, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Xavier Woods, A.J. Styles, Kofi Kingston, Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, and others on that level. It just ain’t happening.

Drew McIntyre? Ehh. There is a story there to be sure, but McIntyre defeating Reigns doesn’t elevate him all that much. He’s a top guy and beating Reigns won’t make him more of one. Damian Priest? I will play the age card there. Priest is 39 years old. Beating Roman Reigns sets up that lotto winner for big paydays and big matches for years to come. That’s how big it is. At almost 40, father time doesn’t allow Priest the time to realize the full potential of that win as a full-time performer.

It can’t be now, but could it have been Adam Cole? Absolutely. He fit all the criteria, except a major one – Vince McMahon’s obsession with size. Cole had the tools, but wasn’t a realistic option given the fact he didn’t have obvious traits McMahon looks for in his tip top stars and beating this Roman Reigns will make said star exactly that.

Then there is Brock Lesnar and The Rock. Both have big business on the table with Roman Reigns. Like Drew McIntyre, though, what does beating Reigns do for either of those guys? Like really. Would it be fun to see? No question it would. Does it help the company? Not really, because what comes next? Both go away and things on Monday’s and Friday’s each week are the same. I’m yelling to go the other direction. WWE must book Lesnar vs. Reigns and Rock vs. Reigns before Reigns drops the title — Just too many zeros on checks available not to do those in a major way on a major show. Reigns winning those matches builds even more equity into the eventual Reigns loss. The guy who takes him down does what The Rock and Lesnar could not do and there’s money in that.

So, we’re running out of choices. Except for one.

Bron Breakker.

*ducks*

Ha! I was ready for it again. I’m not crazy. Breakker checks off all of the boxes that are important. He’s brand new and doesn’t have main roster booking baggage tearing down his perception among fans. He’s entering his prime and has many years left in him with which he can take advantage of the rub beating Roman Reigns would inevitably give. Breakker is also a guy that Vince McMahon would look at and say “Bron Breaaaakkkkerrrrr haugh, haugh, haugh, what a staaarrr.”

Breakker is rough around the edges, but that isn’t a bad thing. Within that roughness, Breakker has shown an innate alpha charisma that top WWE stars have historically had. The guy looks like he’s out there for him and not like someone happy to just be a part of the traveling theater troupe of NXT – an attitude that plagued the old version of the brand in a negative way at the end.

In NXT’s heyday, talents completed their journeys toward championships in that space and in the NXT ecosystem. Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens, Bayley, and others all reached the mountaintop of being a scorching hot NXT act, but were unable to maintain the heat on the main roster. Main roster booking is absolutely to blame for most of that problem, but part of the blame resides in paying off those journeys in NXT and not on Raw or Smackdown. Bayley’s transformation from shy fan to champion was a story the NXT audience was invested in. When paid off in full on NXT, the character had nowhere to go on the main roster to hook the significantly larger audience. NXT 2.0 has pivoted 180 degrees on damn near everything. A change to this booking philosophy needs to pivot too and it can start with Breakker. Breakker running through the NXT roster, building momentum, and then confronting Roman Reigns and winning the championship leaves Breakker’s boiling point as an act intact until the most impactful moment possible and the most money on the table for the company.

Are you still kicking and screaming? Look, Bron Breakker is going to be a player in WWE. He’s the face of NXT’s reimagined presentation and whether we want to admit it or not, has delivered well in that role thus far. Sunday at NXT War Games is a big moment for him, as he’ll have an opportunity to shine and deliver in a main event with talented performers all around him. He’s got some growing to do and some green to knock off, but can be star if handled effectively.

Half the battle is done. Roman Reigns has a lot to give once his shoulders stay on the mat for a three count. Let the sirens blare and the bright colors glow. Bron Breakker is the guy.


CATCH-UP: HEYDORN’S RAW RECEIPT 11/29: Liv Morgan steps up with big promo opposite Becky Lynch

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