It finally happened. The Roman Empire has begun.
Technically speaking, Roman Reigns’ win at Survivor Series 2015 counts as his first championship reign … all five minutes and fifteen seconds of it. So his victory over former champion and Money In the Bank contract holder Sheamus during Monday night’s episode of RAW is historic for all the wrong reasons.
For starters, Reigns’ true championship run (technically his second, keep in mind) feels no where near as organic as most fans would like it or as the suits in WWE believe it to be. The character of our current WWE World Heavyweight Champion went through such a swift and dramatic change that even the most astute of analysts could’ve missed it if they blinked. Reigns went from always having his fingertips literally and figuratively graze the championship belt to being the underdog clawing his way to the top against the stifling machinations of the ever-present and always oppressive Authority. It’d be a different story and blog post if both facets of Reigns’ character fed off of one another, but they’re don’t; his inability to capture the top prize was due to the constant interference of others who were, in the grand scheme, just distractions to his superstar aspirations.
His WrestleMania championship match against Brock Lesnar was interrupted by then-Money In the Bank contract holder Seth Rollins, who would go on to enjoy a glorious reign as WWE World Heavyweight Champion up until a knee injury put him on the shelf. His Money In the Bank ladder match victory was interrupted by Bray Wyatt for no real reason other than the fact that “anyone but him” should’ve been in whatever position he was in at the time. Following Seth Rollins’ injury, Reigns would then participate in a tournament to crown a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, a series that culminated with his victory against Dean Ambrose at the Survivor Series 2015 pay-per-view last month … a victory and championship reign interrupted by Sheamus who capitalized off of a distracted Roman Reigns and won the title in mere moments.
This turn of events, a decisive strike against The Authority – one that actually simmered for quite some time – happened immediately and abruptly within a little under a month. In this time, Reigns went from having leapfrogged by opponents to facing the wrath of the Authority simply because he refused to play ball or sell out like Seth Rollins.
But things got ridiculous rather quickly. Reigns temper tantrum following his loss at the TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs 2015 pay-per-view resulted in the “injuring” of WWE COO Triple H, a man whose accolades, accomplishments and abilities as a wrestler mean absolutely dingleberries as long as he wears a suit. Reigns actions (and declining ratings) forced Vince McMahon himself to make a brief appearance on television to play the Vince McMahon to his Stone Cold Steve Austin.
What makes all of this absolutely hilarious is that the most vocal fans find it hard to believe that the star who has been featured prominently since January 2015 (at least since then) has had to face serious opposition from the ruling power in the WWE and not from the character’s own inflated sense of self. The bearded, diminutive goat-faced Daniel Bryan versus The Authority … that was adversity; the chaotic, hobo-esque lunatic Dean Ambrose versus The Authority … that was adversity …
The hand-picked, homegrown superstar born into pro wrestling royalty that represents everything anyone would want in a “face” of the company versus The Authority …
Reigns’ true championship run is historic not because it’s the culmination of a long-running, well-executed plan that has organically elevated him from obscurity to prominence over a good stretch of time, but rather because it is viewed as the pedestal upon which Reigns was hastily placed as the heir apparent in an era of creative mediocrity. And much like we’ve seen, such things go over with wrestling fans about as well as a wet fart during a silent prayer in a packed church house.
We fans tend to know what we like although we struggle to figure out how to communicate what it is we actually want. The problem is that what we fans like may not necessarily make the promotion the money it needs to thrive. Roman Reigns, at this point in time, has more than enough qualities to make the money WWE needs to thrive, but that’s at the expense of alienating those vocal fans who can and will make far more noise via social media than the satisfied ones; that’s not a good thing in today’s day in age. We can only congratulate Roman on his victory and wish him will in his second championship reign (Hi Dolph Ziggler!), but at the same time most of us are probably simply twiddling our thumbs until Seth Rollins or Brock Lesnar returns and we get that championship match we really want to pay cold, hard cash to see.