Where Roman Reigns stands as SmackDown moves to Fox is one of the most interesting things on WWE programming other than The Fiend.
Much of this simply stems from Reigns' usage as of late. He's taken a backseat to champion Kofi Kingston, instead getting involved in side feuds with guys like Shane McMahon and now Daniel Bryan (sort of) and others.
These have been and are still big programs, undoubtedly, because whether hardcore fans like it or not, Reigns is a massive draw. But it is a sharp change from what most fans probably expected given his past usage in WWE before his time away for medical reasons.
That is probably going to change once SmackDown moves to Fox.
As of right now, Reigns is still working through the "whodunit" storyline with Bryan, Erick Rowan and a surprise returning Luke Harper, who showed up at the Clash of Champions pay-per-view to help Rowan secure a victory.
In the short term, this one is probably going to play out for a while still. Reigns has to get his revenge on the former Bray Wyatt understudies and figures to do so with an interesting tag partner. That will probably be either Bryan or someone interesting like Samoa Joe.
But looking to Fox, there are some obvious names for Reigns to clash with:
- Kofi Kingston
- Brock Lesnar
- Seth Rollins
And that's just the short list. But WWE isn't going to keep shoving Reigns, one of their biggest draws, to the side while trying to woo new viewers while Fox organically pulls in more eyeballs than usual for the first few weeks.
They all make plenty of sense, too. Kingston has enjoyed a long title reign without Reigns getting involved. He's deserved it and is still a fan favorite. Partially, though, it feels like WWE has been saving a Kingston-Reigns feud for Fox, and it doesn't take much in the way of setting up. Kingston has run through most of the blue brand expect for the Big Dog.
Then there's Lesnar. Some fans might not be a fan of the idea. But rest assured Lesnar is going to be back on his SmackDown stomping grounds to draw an even bigger audience than usually possible for the Fox debut.
While hardcore fans have seen plenty of this already, including WrestleMania main events, the fact it is a 'Mania main-event rematch has massive, perhaps without comparison, mainstream appeal. The fight for the "yard" on a Fox program is a fun idea, no matter how fans feel about either Superstar.
Either of these ideas can take place right after the big showdown just announced for the first show:
Let's not forget Seth Rollins in all of this, either. There is a scenario where Rollins goes to Hell in a Cell and loses his title to Bray Wyatt's The Fiend character. He's had a longish run that has mostly fallen flat with silly feuds, and now he's up against the hottest thing running in WWE today.
Falling short of an interference by The Undertaker now that The Fiend attacked Kane, it is hard to see how WWE can justify having Rollins emerge the winner.
And maybe that is part of the long-term plan. Presumably, Fox wants SmackDown to be a more sports-centric program with world-class athletes and less of the classical WWE storyline like The Fiend. It doesn't get much better than the CrossFit savant Rollins himself in that regard, and if he's without Raw's top title, he's a candidate to get drafted to the blue brand.
Rollins against Reigns on Fox? Brilliant, really. There is plenty of backstory there between the two. They put on good matches together. They're also top dogs in the company and massive draws outside of it in the name-recognition department, so it isn't something to discount right now.
There are always other possibilities for Reigns on Fox. Those seem like the big-ticket items that would fit the WWE mold for an event like this. The company will want to pull out the biggest stops possible for a one-time thing like this, so Reigns will be in the spotlight.
It will be a welcome return to the spotlight, too, given Reigns' rather quiet, humble positioning lately and how fun these potential feuds sound. Rollins as the first opponent in the early goings of the Fox days should be the official prediction for now, though it wouldn't be a surprise to see the other two happen quickly.