"This is my yard now."
With those five words, Roman Reigns cut the best promo of his WWE career. It was short, full of confidence, and straight to the point. Now that The Undertaker is no longer in his way, it's definitely Reigns' company.
The funny part is he was booed out of the building.
It's funny because it didn't have to happen this way. The WWE could have pulled back with Reigns at any time over the past year and started over. He could have turned heel, reset his character and perhaps even turned babyface once again before taking The Deadman down at WrestleMania 33.
With tears in his eyes and respect on his face, Reigns could have helped Taker back to his feet and shook his hand. Fans would have seen Reigns' heart and would likely have loved him even more than they did before.
Reigns would be taking the place of The Phenom, but it would be a peaceful transition of power.
But, of course, none of that happened. Reigns has been Public Enemy No. 1 for quite some time, and the WWE has been perfectly happy to let it stay that way. He's fallen into the John Cena matrix, and there doesn't seem to be any stopping it now.
He's the top protagonist on Monday Night Raw, but he's also the most hated man on the roster. Cena never escaped that role and seemed all too happy to live with it. Now it's Reigns' turn.
The WWE moved ahead with The Big Dog and did virtually nothing to help him. Oblivious to the hate he was receiving, and unwilling to change him, Reigns was instead booked as the next big thing. Now that he's worked the main event of three consecutive WrestleManias, it's obvious that he is the big thing today.
If anyone doubted the WWE's commitment to Reigns, they've surely changed their minds now.
The company wants him to be a tough guy, the fearless fighter who's all man and stronger than steel. He took the WWE by force and retired its most storied performer of all time. He did so with no regret and no remorse.
That's the man the WWE wants on top, and now he is.
All things considered, he should have come to power this way. This is pro wrestling, not ballet, and Reigns is a legitimate tough guy. He can throw hands with the best talents the WWE has to offer. He's held his own against Triple H, John Cena, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, AJ Styles, Kane, The Big Show and Kevin Owens.
He stepped into the ring with The Undertaker and didn't back down. The Deadman gave all he had, but it wasn't enough. Reigns took his reputation as the hardest-working talent of the next generation all the way to the top. The fact that he's not what fans want doesn't faze him, and it hasn't stopped the WWE. A changing of the guard has indeed taken place.
The era of Reigns has officially begun.
He's reached the ultimate point in his WWE career. He has transcended the Universal Championship. He's above any main event the WWE can book around him. He's a made man—because The Undertaker says so.
Reigns has validation from arguably the most iconic star the WWE has ever known. What more could he want?
He is on top of a company that is growing and evolving. The WWE's level of talent has perhaps not been this strong since The Attitude Era, and Reigns will oversee it all. The locker room is his to lead, and it is a responsibility he readily accepts.
The WWE has its man in place, even if fans hate him for it.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online here.