WWE Hot Take: Roman Reigns' Current Character Better Than Forced Champion Role

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2019


Just like that, Roman Reigns is one of the most interesting parts of WWE programming again. 

It was so simple, too. Reigns was walking backstage on the July 30 edition of SmackDown, still without much of an angle surrounding him heading into SummerSlam. 

Then, the weird happened:

And look, this was as cheesy as it gets. It was hard to see what happened as it unfolded live. The announcers seemed as confused as everyone else. Perhaps strangest of all, Reigns scampered out from underneath the...stuff and was just fine, shrugging it off. That ended the show. 

But when it comes to Reigns, this is as interesting as he's been in a long time, which is a great thing. This weird "incident" is the sort of thing that perhaps wouldn't have been possible with prior iterations of Reigns' character. 

Prior, meaning the forced-champion role, which saw Reigns relentlessly thrown at fans seemingly regardless of feedback, nevermind the WrestleMania main events. 

This backstage mystery could lead to something even better, too. WWE.com, at least for now, went with this silly explanation: "It has now been determined that the incident in question was specifically caused by a forklift-driver error."

But WWE fans know better: This is the first step in a bigger storyline. This is a way to keep Reigns from the main-event scene while still giving him a prominent slot on all programming. Maybe he's suddenly just an amazingly lucky Superstar, with WWE willing to weave in his time away for health reasons. Maybe he just had a cowardly adversary he obsesses over who—thankfully—isn't Shane McMahon anymore. 

Anything is better than pre-hiatus Reignsand really, Reigns since he's returned. Since the comeback, it has felt inevitable that he would eventually take the belt off Kofi Kingston. He was in a holding pattern with status-quo feuds, like the easy win he picked up over Drew McIntyre at 'Mania. That he's been featured on both Raw and SmackDown, a clear violation of the supposed brand split via the silly Wild Card Rule, only made this seem more inescapable. 

All the while, Reigns has just been sparring with McMahon and his cronies like McIntyre. Make no mistake, it has been nice to see him in the ring doing his thing and being looser than his main-event days, but the anti-authority role was getting stale, too. 

This is about a million times better for everyone. There's a mystery assailant Reigns has to keep ducking and eventually put down. Kingston is free to work the blue brand's top title and keep riding his unbelievable wave of fan momentum. Other titleholders can keep working angles, too.  

And does the culprit really matter? Probably not. There's Daniel Bryan to consider. Don't forget NXT callups. There's even a tag-team called Heavy Machinery. 

All jokes aside, Reigns is interesting and it's a double-whammy for WWE's future if this isn't some short feud but instead, something bigger that helps build up an up-and-coming Superstar. This feels like it has the fingerprints of the new Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff eras all over it, too, even if it really doesn't. 

Call it a testament to WWE willing to enact change, at least recently. Yes, Seth Rollins is still feuding with champion Brock Lesnar because why not, but the fact Reigns is still away from the main event is admirable in its own right. 

Eventually, Reigns will indeed get back in the main-event scene and fight for top titles. Presumably, that's going to happen around the time SmackDown transitions to Fox. But this interim period where Reigns is in an interesting situation like this is a good chance to really let him flesh out his character and groom expectations of fans who are still bitter about his last run at the top. 

In the end, this could end up looking like a blueprint. Fan backlash against Reigns during his first stint at the top was clear. If this budding storyline and his looser, say-what-he-wants character can flourish, his guaranteed return to the top of the card might be welcomed with open arms by all sorts of fans as opposed to a vocal backlash from a section of it. 

WWE has to notice the boon in regards to Reigns, too. If his changes as a character we've slowly seen continue to be a success and open up the eventual main-event push again, it can only be a positive for other Superstars who don't want to be stuck in one role or try new things. 

Barring the angle and character development is a total disaster, fans will want to remember the greater possible implications of this fresh, still-developing Reigns.