The Extreme Rules pay-per-view is rapidly approaching, and it makes sense that the focus of the WWE rumor mill is on that event.
The show, coming from Pittsburgh on July 15, features several championship bouts and a main event pitting Roman Reigns against Bobby Lashley.
It is no surprise, then, that The Big Dog also finds himself at the forefront of a report regarding his character development.
What are industry insiders reporting less-than two weeks out from the most extreme pay-per-view spectacular on the WWE calendar?
Let's take a look.
Championship Changes at Extreme Rules
Randall Ortman of Cageside Seats reported there are no planned title changes for the Extreme Rules pay-per-view.
Already announced for the show are AJ Styles defending his WWE Championship against Rusev, Dolph Ziggler defending the Intercontinental Championship against Seth Rollins and The Bludgeon Brothers defending the SmackDown Tag Team Championships against the reunited Team Hell No.
Buy or Sell?
Buy. One of the most annoying things in wrestling is a title change for the sake of a title change. Too often they ruin storyline momentum and obliterate continuity. They hurt the overall quality of championship reigns and in some cases do irreparable damage to the Superstars who previously held the title.
If WWE holds a show that features no title changes, that does not necessarily make it a bad show or uneventful. It simply means there was no opportunity for storyline progression via championship change at that time.
Styles retaining his title, Ziggler beating Rollins and The Bludgeon Brothers holding on to the gold through some sort of count out or disqualification all make sense within the ongoing storylines and creative plans. Ditto The Woken Warriors beating The B Team to retain the Raw Tag Team Championships.
Switching any of those titles just to prevent fans from complaining about the lack of eventful occurrences would do a disservice to the stories WWE has in store for them coming out of the placeholder pay-per-view.
A Character Change for Roman Reigns
Also according to Ortman, the plan is for Roman Reigns to be portrayed "like a cool heel" in hopes that fans will finally cheer him.
The July 2 episode of Raw saw Reigns refuse to tag Lashley into the match against The Revival, an hour or so after mocking his Extreme Rules opponent by calling him "Bob."
Buy or Sell?
Sell. The key word in Ortman's report is "like." It is not inferred that Reigns is undergoing a heel turn but, rather, will be booked like one in the coming weeks in hopes of getting fans to cheer him.
That is a self-serving attempt by WWE to get what they want without giving fans what they want.
The audience is smarter now than it ever has been. It will see through an attempt by WWE to book Reigns as a cool, lackadaisical tweener in hopes of getting their cheers. It will result in more backlash and the continuation of the boos that greet him in arenas around the country.
A half-assed attempt to portray Reigns one way while keeping the core of his character still babyface is such a "have your cake and eat it, too" way of booking that those in power cannot actually believe it will work.
It has not two weeks in and it probably will not, resulting in a hostile crowd for The Big Dog in Pittsburgh for Extreme Rules.
SummerSlam Plans for Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar continues to find himself at the center of rumors ahead of August's SummerSlam, and the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter ensured it will stay that way.
Dave Meltzer reported the plans for Lesnar vs. Reigns are still on and that everything WWE Creative has done with Reigns to this point is to get him cheered and Lesnar booed, though that has most certainly not been the case.
If his report holds true, it will be the third major pay-per-view match between Reigns and Lesnar for the Universal Championship in 2018.
Buy or Sell?
Buy. Is the creative strategy working in regards to Reigns? Absolutely not. It has not worked since January of 2015.
With that said, WWE Creative has come this far with the Reigns saga. He has survived several asinine booking decisions that have left fans scratching their heads, and his willingness to continue to put Lesnar over deserves to be paid off with a championship win.
Love it, hate it or be indifferent to it, it is the logical conclusion to the story that has dragged on long enough.