Why Stone Cold Steve Austin Is Wrong Choice to Face Roman Reigns at WWE WrestleMania

Erik BeastonJanuary 24, 2023

Credit: WWE.com

Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful Select reported Monday that WWE officials reached out with a big-money offer to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin over a WrestleMania 39 match against Roman Reigns.

Austin last competed a year ago in The Show of Shows against Kevin Owens, his first match in 19 years. He earned rave reviews for his performance, and his recent Instagram posts have depicted a man dedicated to his daily workouts.

That he beat Owens, the current No. 1 contender to Reigns' throne, gives him all the credibility he would need to justify a championship opportunity. Even if that wasn't the case, he's Steve Austin and can get by on his name alone.

After all, the 58-year-old is the biggest star in pro wrestling history and the face of WWE's most successful and creative era.

But is The Texas Rattlesnake the right opponent for Reigns at The Showcase of the Immortals on April 1-2? In short, no.

The Obvious Choice

While WWE could put Austin on the posters for WrestleMania across from Reigns and be sure the event would be a blockbuster success, the correct choice for that spot has been front and center the whole time: Sami Zayn.

For months, Reigns has taken a guy who was so desperate to belong in The Bloodline and manipulated him. He has been the grand-master chess player, insulating himself with yet another source of help in retaining the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.

He has used Zayn, just as he uses his real family, and enjoyed success because of it.

Lately, though, we have seen increasing paranoia cause cracks within Reigns' typically cool demeanor. He has lashed out at Zayn, accusing him of wanting to be The Tribal Chief. He put him on trial Monday night on Raw and threatened to have him beaten down by Solo Sikoa.

Later in the show, he watched Zayn celebrate a victory with Jey Uso⁠—the man who came to his aid during the trial⁠—and realized the grip he has had on The Bloodline may be loosening.

Eventually, there will be a betrayal on the part of Reigns, who will become as despised as ever for mistreating Zayn and booting him from the group. Should the storyline dictate that it happens between now and WrestleMania, there is no better option than The Honorary Uce to slay The Tribal Chief on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

Some will balk at the idea of Zayn being in that spot, but he has built the same groundswell of support we have seen in the past with the likes of Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston.

The audience has fallen in love with the Canadian and, while some will question his star power, there is no denying that fans will create a special environment should he have the opportunity to dethrone the man who has put him on edge for the last eight months.

Not going with Zayn could create dismay on the part of the WWE Universe and, as we witnessed in the case of Bryan in 2013-14, a backlash that threatens to overwhelm the show.

However, The Master Strategist is not the only option to face Reigns at 'Mania.

Family Feud

There is also Jey Uso.

He stood up to Reigns in 2020, producing compelling television and two Match of the Year candidates before falling in line and acknowledging The Tribal Chief.

Recently, though, we have seen him show his allegiance and support for Zayn, most notably in Monday's excellent "Tribal Trial" segment.

For two years, Reigns has convinced Uso to buy in. He had an iron-like grip on his cousin that has slipped in recent weeks. Perhaps Zayn is the key to reminding Jey who he is and that he does not need to live his life at the behest of another man.

There was something in the way Reigns watched the TV screen Monday night as Uso celebrated a victory with Zayn that portrayed a man watching a key member of The Bloodline fall from his control that would make for a compelling secondary story or even the headliner.

While there would be a few steps that would need to be taken to get to Uso, including the loss of the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships with brother Jimmy, it is another angle that is right there for the exploring, thanks to the layered storytelling that has gone into this Bloodline epic.

Whether it is Zayn or Jey, they represent the best option for Reigns at WrestleMania. The fans have ridden this emotional roller coaster for the last year and, while Austin and Cody Rhodes are bigger stars, they deserve an apropos payoff.

Zayn overcoming the seemingly insurmountable, or Uso knocking off the man whose stranglehold on the top spot in WWE intensified by defeating him, are two organic outcomes that audiences have earned and will create the magical moments a setting like WrestleMania demands.

Austin is a legend, perpetually over thanks to an iconic character and a bond with audiences that has never been broken. Why risk bringing him back and facing the bitterness of an audience that is so behind Zayn right now? WWE should not want that and nor should the man himself.

Sit this one out, book that match for WrestleMania 40 if it is so important, and let the best storyline of the last decade have an appropriate conclusion.