On a previous episode of Raw, former WWE SmackDown general manager Vickie Guerrero continued her slavish ways by embarrassingly catering to the Authority. In her defense, Roman Reigns gave her the courage to stand up for herself, using the small amount of stroke she had to place him in the wildcard Battle Royal to determine the latest qualifier for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Money in the Bank. The rally was successful, and Reigns became an entrant.
At the end of the Battle Royal, two behemoths commenced the traditional "faceoff"—Roman Reigns and Alexander Rusev. However, this one was a bit different than the those of recent Battle Royals. In fact, this faceoff oozed of comparison to the Hulk Hogan-Ultimate Warrior faceoff back at the Royal Rumble in 1990. The crowd erupted to a feverish response, as the two rising stars battled for the last spot in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder match.
This faceoff should not be a one-off exhibition. In fact, this could give Rusev a midcard push while giving Reigns an interesting feud as he methodically and gradually rises to the main-event level.
As a short history lesson, let us look at all the great midcard feuds for titles that helped a legend's career: Sting vs. Muta, Flair vs. Steamboat, Savage vs. Steamboat, Hart vs. Henning, Austin vs. The Rock, Triple H vs. The Rock, Warrior vs. Rude, Guerrero vs. Mysterio and the list goes on. Although we are in a new era, and it is difficult to consider many people as future legends, Roman Reigns has the tools to become the next centerpiece of the company.
Since Lana is so anti-America, it would make sense for Rusev to seize the U.S. title as a part of his property. In fact, he could even rename it the Russian Heavyweight Championship, similar to how Lance Storm renamed it the Canadian Heavyweight Championship in WCW. This allows the Florida-born Reigns to take back what rightfully belongs to the U.S. and continue his progress towards becoming the face of the company.
Here's the timeline: Rusev beats Sheamus at SummerSlam, runs through midcard talent for three months and then loses to Reigns at Survivor Series. Simple equation.
There have been plenty of wrestlers who started with midcard championships as they progressed to being the faces of their company, including Sting, Ric Flair, John Cena and Steve Austin.
What did they all have in common? All have been midcard champions, and had slow builds to make them top guys. They all had many midcard feuds before they became world champions, which significantly contribute to who they are today.
Roman Reigns could very well go down that same path, and Rusev could be his launchpad.
Chris Featherstone is a writer for WrestlingINC.com and WeAreWrestling.net. Follow him on Twitter @cravewrestling and Facebook. Be sure to check out the weekly Pancakes and Powerslams wrestling radio on Blog Talk Radio for wrestling news and trivia.