In one of the biggest victories of his solo career, Roman Reigns left Kane unable to stand and too ashamed to continue wearing his mask.
The climb from rising star to WWE's top tier continues for Reigns. The resume-changing impact of outlasting Kane in such a physical battle on Monday's Raw, combined with a strong, attention-grabbing performance, will help the black-clad juggernaut make that journey.
Monday's Raw had a gap at the top.
The show airing from the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas, featured, Brock Lesnar and John Cena in video recap form only. That meant men like Reigns had a larger share of the spotlight. The night offered the powerhouse the role of providing the opening bout.
His Last Man Standing match against Kane showed off just how far Reigns has come as a showman.
Early in his days at WWE developmental, he struggled with the nuances of selling and in-ring storytelling. He was a fantastic athlete but raw and inexperienced.
On Monday's Raw, he looked ready to be a part of higher-profile matches. After knocking Kane to the ground, Reigns glared at him. When Kane cracked a Kendo stick or steel chair across his back, he took the shot from his knees, his face exuding pain.
Those moments of excellent selling are becoming more common for him.
They add empathy to his matches, making him a more effective babyface. It was easy to pull for Reigns here as he played the valiant warrior gutting it out in a battle with a monster.
Each performance like this is proof that Reigns is deserving of his current push and that WWE may well have a new headliner at the ready.
WWE presented Reigns to be powerful against Kane, which will aid him as he approaches that status.
The announcers played up how often Kane has been in these types of clashes and that it was the first for Reigns. Despite his inexperience, he matched Kane punch for punch in the early going. The Big Red Monster smashed the ring steps into Reigns' head and chokeslammed him through a table.
Each time, Reigns rose.
Superstars aplenty have been defeated with a standard chokeslam. Even with a wooden landing spot under him, Reigns wouldn't let the move finish him.
He instead sat up out of the debris, much like Kane and The Undertaker have done so many times in their careers, and he eventually earned the win. He didn't need any interference, distractions or even a steel chair shot to do so either.
A spear left Kane writhing on the mat like a fish in a boat. That move alone was enough to keep the big man off his feet for a full 10-count.
WWE likely wouldn't have many of its wrestlers finish off a former world champion in that fashion. It's hard to imagine Big E's Big Ending or Dolph Ziggler's Zig-Zag being devastating enough to fell a giant for that long.
The company, though, has made Reigns' spear a mighty weapon.
He now enters his SummerSlam match with Randy Orton and future battles having created images of him being an incredible force. Fans will have no trouble believing that Reigns can defeat his opponent, be it Orton or Cena.
The spear may now be the blow that sends Kane spiraling into an existential crisis.
After losing to Reigns, Kane appeared before Triple H and Stephanie McMahon wearing the posture of the defeated. He had no words for his superiors. Instead, he slipped off his mask and handed it to McMahon.
Should Kane become a new version of himself, should he move away from his latest run as a vicious villain, Reigns will get a good chunk of the credit for inspiring the change.
That's the kind of accomplishment that is wise to add to a man's resume as he heads for the mountaintop. As he has done several times recently, Reigns emerged from this battle with fists full of momentum.
Building a marquee star takes time. WWE continued that construction project with Reigns on Monday's Raw as he continues to charge upward.
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