At the inaugural edition of the Fast Lane pay-per-view, Daniel Bryan will square off against Roman Reigns for a shot at the main event of WrestleMania 31 against WWE world champion Brock Lesnar.
The WWE has been subtly teasing a possible heel turn for Reigns for weeks, and the key to a successful character change if the company decides to go in that direction would be the interaction with Bryan over the next month.
Following the 2015 Royal Rumble match, the crowd in Philadelphia voiced its disapproval of the decision to launch Reigns into the upper echelon because many fans think he is far from ready. Not only does he struggle on the mic, but he has also failed to live up to expectations in the ring.
There is a vocal portion of the crowd that absolutely adores Reigns and wouldn’t mind seeing him at the top of the WrestleMania card. There is another portion of the WWE Universe, though, that flat-out rejects anything he is doing because they feel the Superstar is being force-fed to the fanbase.
On the other hand, Bryan is the quintessential face and has the support of the vast majority of fans. As arguably the top babyface in the company, the WWE has the chance to use Bryan as the main cog in a heel turn.
As seen on Monday’s episode of Raw, Bryan and Reigns had a tense backstage segment that featured the Royal Rumble winner verbally attacking his Fast Lane challenger. While Reigns may have appeared in the final segment to help Bryan earn the victory over Seth Rollins, it could be a red herring to throw the fans and Bryan off the trail of a possible heel turn.
The fans see the chance that Bryan could return to the main event of WrestleMania, but there are few fans who think Reigns will take the loss at Fast Lane. Beating Bryan a month before the biggest show of the year will have many of the fans who supported Reigns turning their back on him for being personally responsible for the porous booking of Bryan.
Add in the possibility of using a dirty tactic to beat Bryan behind the referee’s back—i.e. a low blow or a roll-up with a handful of tights—and the bout between the two men should be the start of the official heel turn.
With the WWE Universe fully supporting Bryan, Reigns beating him with heel tactics would ensure the majority of the crowd views the Royal Rumble winner as the bad guy.
In interviews, such as the one he conducted with Sam Roberts (h/t WrestleZone.com), Reigns is already saying things that further hint at the possibility of a heel turn:
It’s one of those situations where obviously the company is gonna do what the company does and the fans are definitely gonna do what they do. That’s what’s so great. The fans have to realize that as opinionated as y’all are in the way you want it, the company is the same way and they’re gonna do what they wanna do…at the end of the day I’m just a guy getting rich.
Bryan shouldn’t just be the key to the start of the heel turn. If Lesnar leaves the WWE for MMA after WrestleMania, as many suspect could happen, Reigns will need a marquee storyline coming out of WrestleMania. Bryan is still owed a title shot after being stripped of the belt, and the feud between the men should continue at Extreme Rules.
The WWE is always more entertaining with the face chasing the championship, and the idea of a heel Reigns carrying the WWE title and Bryan chasing him would be the perfect usage of both men following the biggest PPV of the year.
There is a serious lack of top heels in the company, and Reigns would be instantly catapulted to the top of that list with the departure of Lesnar and a feud against Bryan. Seth Rollins, Rusev and the other heels on the roster have been great, but Reigns and the WWE must embrace the hate he is receiving and add fuel to the fire by constantly thwarting Bryan’s attempts to win the belt.
Another possible addition to the feud between Bryan and Reigns that could be the ultimate difference-maker is Paul Heyman. During the snowed-out episode of Raw, Heyman talked about Reigns being “the next big thing” in wrestling. That subtle tease may be enough to warrant Heyman seeing the chance to align himself with the future of the company and screwing over Lesnar at WrestleMania to help give Reigns the victory.
With Heyman as his mouthpiece, Reigns would be the No. 1 heel in the company, and the subsequent feud against Bryan leading into Extreme Rules would be the biggest angle in the WWE. Seth Rollins and the Money in the Bank contract is the ultimate trump card, but he can hold on to the briefcase until Bryan ultimately overcomes Reigns and wins the title.
A Triple Threat for the WWE Championship between Reigns (with Heyman), Rollins (with The Authority) and Bryan (with the support of the WWE Universe) would be one of the biggest possible matches heading into the summer.
Turning Reigns heel would be a genius move for the WWE following his negative reactions, but the only way the character change would have the full impact that it needs would be several attacks and cheating against the top face in the company, Bryan.
Bryan deserves something huge, and being the one to help Reigns become the top heel in the company would be a marquee storyline that would help elevate both men. Reigns would be the ultimate bad guy for attacking Bryan, and the fans could show even more support for Bryan after they see him being held down again.
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