Roman Reigns is headed to SummerSlam on August 17 for a showdown with Randy Orton. The Viper has had heat with the former Shield strongman and the two men have been battling it out in one confrontation after another on WWE programming.
And while some fans may view this as just another feud to perhaps keep both men distracted from the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, the truth is that it's much more than that. This feud is about Orton helping Reigns to build his WWE legacy.
The speculation on Reigns for quite some time has been that he is WWE's next top guy, the heir apparent to John Cena. It's a notion that began as something just blowing in the breeze among the wrestling community.
However, it soon gained traction as Reigns began emerging as the unofficial leader of The Shield, the most dominant faction in WWE history. Though he, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose came in together and were equal in many ways, the truth is that Reigns is the one that eventually began to shine just a little brighter.
Reigns developed a confidence that set him apart from his Shield teammates. He had a swagger that spoke volumes about whom he was and where he was going in the company. Every time fans saw him in the ring, Reigns appeared to be more and more comfortable in his own skin. Before long, Reigns became more of the main event threat that fans believed he could be.
So when the time came for The Shield to disband, Reigns was finally given his opportunity. And it was an opportunity that he took full advantage of.
Now, Reigns is rubbing elbows with WWE's elite. To see him challenging for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is nothing new; he worked the ladder match for the belt at Money in the Bank, and then competed in the Fatal 4-Way match at Battleground. In both instances, Reigns fit right in with WWE's heavy hitters and that includes Cena.
And while many fans were likely hoping that Reigns would reach the top in one of these bouts, the fact is that it may be too soon for him to do so. It could very well be that he needs some more time and some more wins, against quality opponents.
Enter Orton, who has been in the top-three most featured Superstars in WWE over the past several years. Fans are very accustomed to seeing The Viper performing on that level and to see him now step up to Reigns is something that many of them surely expected to happen.
Again, Reigns needs wins over quality opponents. To be placed into the main event spotlight because he's supposed to be or because fans want to see him there, is just not enough. Reigns must earn everything he gets in the company and part of that comes from working Orton in this rivalry. It's the only way to up his value, to increase his standing with the fans that are paying to see him in the ring.
At the end of the day, Reigns can talk a good fight but he must back it up. Facing off against Orton is perhaps the best way WWE can make that happen right now. Cena is distracted with Brock Lesnar and Kane has once again removed his mask on Monday Night Raw; Orton may be the best choice left to help Reigns at this point.
And it's the legacy of the former Shield tough guy that is on the line. Years from now when the WWE faithful look back on his career and see the list of names that Reigns defeated on his way to the top, Orton is one name that will definitely stand out from the rest.
He is a 12-time WWE and World champion; he has been featured in main events all over the world and has headlined pay-per-views. Orton is the man that reinvented the heel character for a new generation of fans as no one has been as ruthless or as cunning in the ring. There is nothing even remotely likable about Orton when he's working heel and while fans continue to cheer for Cesaro and Bray Wyatt, there is just no reason for them to cheer Orton.
There's just nothing redeeming about him; he's one of the strongest antagonists that WWE has ever known. This is the man that is stepping into the ring against Reigns at SummerSlam. And it is the same man that will help Reigns realize his potential in the future.
This does not mean however that Orton is ready to fade into the background. His extremely strong heel persona is one that will not be denied and can be utilized in so many different ways in the company. The bottom line is that Orton still has a lot to give.
But at SummerSlam he will give to Reigns, who needs a great showing against a top-tier main event talent. This rivalry will likely not end on August 17 but a very important chapter needs to be written on that night. Reigns needs to look strong and he needs to look more than capable. He needs to look like a star.
That part is up to Orton and if all goes well, then we could be witnessing one of the most important rivalries in the career of Reigns. His legacy will definitely be affected by facing Orton and SummerSlam could be the night that his main event career gets kicked into high gear.