Just in case there wasn’t enough news this week with the official announcement of the WWE Draft and the two new WWE World Champions, you might have heard about Roman Reigns being suspended for thirty days for a Wellness Policy violation. This actually doesn’t shake things up as much as you would think but there are some things that need to be done and others that need to be avoided upon Reigns’ return.
Now for the most important thing for WWE: they absolutely cannot put the title back on Reigns and continue down the same path they had been going down during his title reign. This should be obvious but Reigns needs to seem like he’s actually being punished and not just delayed for a little bit. Basically it would amount to a month’s vacation for Reigns before he gets the title back, which is downright insulting not just to the fans but to the other wrestlers involved.
Think about that for a minute. If you’re Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins, how would you feel if you were just the person to babysit the title while the great and mighty Reigns was gone? It’s not like either of them are incapable of carrying the title for longer than a little bit and it’s certainly not like the main event needs Reigns to carry things (more on that in a little bit) so keep him away from the title for a long time.
If nothing else, can you imagine the reaction if Reigns is suspended for a month and then it’s just a Superman Punch and a spear to give him the title back? If you thought the fans hated Reigns already, just imagine what happens if he pins Ambrose and does that smirk of his. Again, it would be a big insult to the wrestlers and the fans who already can’t stand the sight of Reigns.
So what should happen once Reigns gets back? Aside from him taking the pinfall in the triple threat match, Reigns needs to drop down the ladder for a long time. What people are forgetting in this is how beneficial it might be to have Reigns drop down to the upper midcard and just freshen up a little bit. Fans haven’t exactly been enamored with Reigns in the first place and a big reason for that is his lack of character development.
Simply put, Reigns hasn’t really faced any adversity. Occasionally he’ll be presented with a problem and it’s just a matter of how many Superman Punches and spears it would take to get him out of trouble. That’s not any sort of development because it’s the same thing over and over. At some point Reigns needs to fail so we can see how he reacts to it and changes as a result.
If nothing else it could help people relate to him a little bit. Look at Ambrose for another example. One of the reasons people responded to his title win so strongly was how many times he had lost big feuds but kept going. It’s really easy for fans to relate to someone like Ambrose who is basically the common man, similar to so many people watching. On the other hand, how many people out there watching were born into a wrestling family and are basically handed the top spot in the company based on a year of pure dominance after debuting in the main event of Survivor Series?
Now for the first time, Reigns looks human. He looks like someone who has screwed up and is being punished as a result. Reigns has been humbled a bit and it could be really beneficial to his career to see him work his way back up the roster. Can you imagine the reaction if he comes back and is just inserted into the main event scene all over again like nothing ever happened?
That brings us to the other point: the main event as a whole needs a break from Reigns. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the majority of the fans seem to be a bit tired of Reigns and I can’t say it’s hard to disagree. Reigns has been involved in the last eight consecutive pay per view main events and it’s just time for something fresh. It’s not like Reigns on top was leading to great business for WWE as I’m sure you’ve seen the plunging numbers for “Monday Night Raw” (which of course weren’t all Reigns’ fault but the champion always gets a big chunk of the blame).
The other major change that WWE probably should go with is the long awaited Reigns heel turn. He’s one of the most natural heels you’ll ever see and one of the worst natural faces you’ll ever see and now he’s done something to get himself in somewhat major trouble. It’s the most natural way to have Reigns turn on everyone and act like the jerk that so many fans want to see him become.
Just picture that smirk Reigns does in a suit as he talks about how he would do whatever again because it made him money and gave him the fame that his family is entitled to. If that’s not the most natural heel character in the world that people would LOVE to boo out of the building (yet would likely cheer because he would be awesome at it in a completely non-shocking reaction), I don’t know what is.
However, you know full well what this is likely to turn into. Reigns comes back, says he’s here for revenge on Rollins for taking the title from him, and then spears one of them to get his title back so we can move on to Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar II at “Summerslam 2016” because that’s the way to get Reigns over: have him beat one of the biggest smark favorites in the company in front of the biggest smark crowds at one of the biggest shows of the year.
That’s what WWE needs to avoid out of all this: making the same mistakes they’ve made several times over with Reigns. No matter how you look at it, Reigns is someone that has to be presented in a certain way or the fans aren’t going to react well to him. He’s not the most charismatic in the world, meaning he can’t talk his way out of problems like a John Cena or the Rock, leaving him with only his character (also fairly weak) and in ring abilities (underrated) to change the fans’ perception. We’ve seen how well that goes, so it’s pretty clear that a change is needed. What better way is there than this?
Then again, this is WWE we’re talking about so you can probably just leave Reigns’ customized plates on the side of the title for when he comes back. I get what WWE wants to get out of Reigns but it’s pretty clear that it’s not going to work as well as it seems, especially when WWE has spent so long telling the fans that it’s about what they want and all the effort put in (See also Daniel Bryan’s rise to the top of the company.). Reigns needs to go down a little bit from this and just trying to move forward like nothing changed would be the worst possible thing that WWE could do here, which is why I expect it to happen.