Why Callum Wiggins feels that whilst the Royal Rumble result might sting with fans for now, they will come to recognize that Roman Reigns was the right choice…
The Royal Rumble is the biggest match of the year, and on Sunday both it’s content and outcome let a number of fans down. For me personally, I was disappointed, solely at the content and booking of the match itself. It was not the best way to structure the match by any stretch of the imagination, which became even clearer when placed opposite the masterclass in storytelling told in the Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship. The crowd’s obvious distaste for what they were witnessing for the second year running really took away from the atmosphere of the contest, making it difficult viewing for anybody. But the true victim of this was not the audience, as much as they are likely feeling sorry for themselves – it was Roman Reigns.
Let’s face it, Vince McMahon is always on the search for the next “guy”. The person that can take the mantel from John Cena and lead the company into the future. There is no doubting that Reigns fits the bill. His power is explosive and emphatic. He is extremely athletic, demonstrating an effective combination of slams and strikes. His Superman Punch is personal favorite of mine, as it makes such a brilliant freeze frame when landed correctly. And although the Spear might not be the most inventive of finishing maneuvers, the raw power Reigns gets behind it genuinely looks to take all the air out of an opponent.
His main problem has often been his promo skills. Sometimes this hasn’t been entirely his fault, as Reigns has clearly been provided scripts that are filled with mediocre buzz words and are far too short for him to present any genuine emotion. Nevertheless, he has also come off on occasion as quite nervous when speaking, thinking about things too hard to really emotionally invest the audience. Nevertheless, when Reigns is confident and feeling it in a promo, he comes across as a genuinely likable, funny and intense individual. And if you tuned in to RAW last night despite the blizzard conditions, you were able to witness the Rumble winner talk candidly about the negative reception to his victory, and recognize that he was a worthy winner.
In my mind, his victory was dealt a slightly poor hand because of the way the match played out, but also the fans not likely to give him a chance regardless. Last year, Reigns was viewed as the final great hope to overcome Batista, the man that everybody felt was a shoo-in to headline WrestleMania. He was the man the audience got behind in order to ensure that they would not have a winner shoved down their throats by the backstage officials, and when he was eliminated the crowd turned ugly. However, this year Reigns was in Batista’s boots, with many expecting his victory in the match, but not exactly fond of it.
When Daniel Bryan was cast aside half way into the match, it was always going to kill the crowd, and WWE officials should have recognized that. In the early 2000’s you wouldn’t have thrown out Stone Cold or The Rock after ten minutes unless you had a very good reason to do so. Obviously, Bryan isn’t quite at their level, but he is the most over superstar in the company at present. Maybe they will make a good story out of Bryan being taken out by Bray Wyatt, a man who he has yet to overcome in a match. However, there seemed to be little reason to eliminate him so early other than shock value.
It wasn’t only Bryan, as other fan favorites were rapidly tossed aside by Big Show and Kane to much crowd anger. Of course, being heels, that’s exactly the response they wanted. But with every Dean Ambrose or Dolph Ziggler tossed to the floor, the more clear it became to everybody that Reigns was destined to win. The reason why the greatest Royal Rumbles end with two mega-babyfaces or major stars is because it makes the outcome that little bit more unpredictable. When Reigns was left staring down Kane and the Big Show, there’s no suspense in that finish. Neither of them are going to main event WrestleMania at this stage of their careers, so Reigns went from being a contender to a certainty, which the crowd rebelled against.
Still, the crowd turned on Reigns from the moment he entered the match, trying to convince the higher-ups that they wouldn’t cheer for a superstar that has been groomed for the main event. Their fervor was so strong that they cheered for the anti-American Rusev to eliminate him at the climax. This side of the audience’s reaction was pretty harsh, to say the least. Of course, they pay good money to support who they want, and let’s face it, the heroics of John Cena have not exactly endeared him to the vocal sections of the audience. But Reigns has proven time and again that he can hang with the biggest superstars on the roster, and will do so again against Brock Lesnar.
After the awe-inspiring and dominant performance Lesnar produced last night, people would be forgiven for thinking he was the babyface in the bout. Now he is battling Reigns for the title at WrestleMania, he will likely get the support of the audience over the former Shield member. But Lesnar is a temporary fix for the crowd – Reigns is here to stay. His size and power make him the only true combatant to the dominant warrior that is the Beast Incarnate. Although many people won’t be too pleased to read that, the choice of Reigns is the correct one.
All their favorites will still be at WrestleMania. Dean Ambrose will likely be tying up with some Authority members; Daniel Bryan will battle Bray Wyatt; Dolph Ziggler will fight for the Intercontinental Championship. So why can’t a good hand like Reigns be supported in his rise to the top of the card. Though he might not be a superstar that has been naturally accepted by some in the audience, his look, ring work and heritage make him an ideal candidate to lead the company when Cena is forced to hang up his sneakers.
Give the storyline time to breathe, by making Lesnar look even more dominant and Reigns doing everything he can to prove, not only to the audience, but to himself that he can overcome the Conqueror. His journey of getting prepared to defeat what few could endure will invest the crowd as much as any other angle, and if Lesnar was to depart following WrestleMania, earning the respect of the Beast with a handshake or something of that ilk would be a great way to cement Reigns as the guy.
So whilst you can bemoan the outcome of the Royal Rumble all you like, and claim the WWE doesn’t listen to what the fans want, I’ll conclude with three valid points:
1. Roman Reigns deserves his chance to be in the main event of WrestleMania.
2. Fans are fickle beings (including yours truly) and can’t be trusted to make long-term calls for the company’s future.
3. You’re still going to order WrestleMania regardless so you might as well try to enjoy the ride there.