Roman Reigns has truly been in demand as of late. The former Shield strongman was booked for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, first at Money in the Bank on June 29 and then at Battleground on July 20. And while he came up short at both events, the fact is that his star is definitely on the rise.
But the road to the top for Reigns will be a long one, and he is really just getting started. Many factors must come into play for him to be successful in Vince McMahon's company. Chief among them is the quality of opponent he will face on his way to main event stardom in WWE.
From the moment that The Shield debuted in 2012, fans knew that WWE had something special. The combination of Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins was built for success from the ground up. Each man seemed so focused on bringing his best every time he was in the ring. There was nothing halfhearted about what the three men did individually or collectively.
The Shield was all business, and they proved it every time they stepped into the ring.
And as they were working to establish themselves, fans saw very early that there was potential greatness evolving right before them. Ambrose had the charisma and was the powder keg. Rollins had the daredevil attitude and was the architect.
Reigns had the intensity and was the strongman. That was how it broke down, and that was how many fans saw it. But it ran much deeper than that.
That was because Reigns began to emerge from the group. He was perhaps not as polished as his Shield teammates, but he definitely seemed to possess all the traits necessary to get over in a very big way in WWE.
He had the look, the style and the ferocity it took to not only get the fans' attention but to keep it. He was very marketable and appeared to be ready for any challenge that lay ahead. His confidence grew in the ring, and soon it was very apparent to many that Reigns was headed for big things in the company.
But being booked in title matches is one thing; getting over with the crowd is something else altogether. And in that respect, Reigns has done pretty well so far.
The fans have responded very positively to him. They chant his name, pop when he goes into his routine in the ring, and when he growls into the camera, they feel every word. Fans want Reigns to succeed; they want to see him keep working toward obtaining that brass ring. But that work starts on the ground floor.
The most basic way to build a main event career in WWE is to just win. Losing, winning by disqualification, time-limit draws—each has its benefit and each serves its purpose. But it's all about who has his arm raised in the end. That is what WWE fans ultimately care about. It's what they believe constitutes true success.
But those wins must come over quality opponents. Only by showing what he can do against top-tier contenders will Reigns truly be seen as an elite star himself.
And opponents of that type are typically very capable of not only calling the match, but making the other guy look good as well. This is especially important for Reigns, whose ring work has been called into question by some fans who believe Ambrose and Rollins are much more suited to be workhorses.
If Reigns is paired with Superstars who can lift him up, however, fans may very well change their tune on him.
There are two obvious choices when it comes to the wrestlers Reigns should work with right now to prepare for the immediate future. Those are Kane and Randy Orton, both of whom Reigns has had heat with for quite some time now. Since the moment that The Shield split from The Authority, they have been targets of Triple H. And since Rollins turned heel, Reigns has had issues with Kane and Orton.
Reigns has become the anti-establishment hero fighting against the establishment of Triple H and the McMahon family. And The Game has sent his two best soldiers to stop Reigns before he can get any further.
Working Kane and Orton would definitely go a long way toward helping Reigns become more of a viable main event threat. Actually defeating each man in a feud would do even more for him, as he would be one step closer to beating a Superstar of John Cena's caliber.
Some fans have questioned how capable Reigns is of succeeding in singles matches without Ambrose and Rollins there to lean on. Standing toe-to-toe with Orton and Kane and looking great while doing it would perhaps end much of that doubt.
The fact is that by the time Reigns is at the point that he could become the next face of WWE, his win-loss record should be littered with victories over top stars. And if it's not, then fans could very well not take him seriously as the next big thing.
In the world of WWE, a guy is only as good as his last match. And if Reigns is to reach that top level, then every match must eventually be very good and be against quality opponents. It's the only way fans will truly accept him as the top guy, and it's the only way he will really succeed in that lofty position.