The Big Dog is coming home. WWE has announced that Roman Reigns will appear on the February 25 edition of Monday Night Raw. Reigns is expected to provide an update on his physical health following a four month battle with leukemia.
Roman has not appeared on WWE programming since October of 2018 and since that time, the company has attempted to move on without him. It hasn’t been an easy prospect, however. Without a marquee star at the helm, Raw’s ratings have stumbled. Some fans believe that one has nothing to do with the other. But there is no denying that Monday Night Raw is a different program with Roman on top.
So what will he say? From the moment he left, the WWE Universe has been clamoring for his return. The immense throng of critics that typically despise everything about him have changed their collective tune and that’s understandable.
Pro wrestling is a fantasy world after all. That world has little to do with reality, tough the lines between the two are often blurred. A Superstar’s health should be of primary concern. There’s no way that a rational, intelligent person would ever wish harm on anyone in WWE and that includes Roman Reigns.
Relive Roman’s last promo in 2018:
But while the outcry to see him come back healthy and strong definitely exists, there’s always the question of what kind of shape WWE will be in when he returns. Raw is not the same as when he left it in terms of the overall storyline. But how much of that will directly impact how he’s booked, assuming he’s coming back at full strength?
Braun Strowman is not the main event powerhouse that he was in the fall of 2018. At any given moment, The Monster Among Men was an immediate threat for the Universal Championship. But now Strowman’s true role as a spoiler in WWE has become apparent. Braun is not a full-time top guy candidate. He’s the roadblock on the way to other guys getting to the top.
Then there’s Finn Bálor, who is essentially the same man he was in 2018. The only difference now is the Intercontinental Championship that sits around his waist. However, the title’s presence is not exactly a direct statement from WWE regarding Finn’s overall importance. Indeed, WWE has done nothing but mishandle Bálor from the beginning.
But the biggest difference between February 2019 and October 2018 is the relationship between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. This is one of the most bizarre angles that WWE has perhaps ever attempted, due to its obvious lack of direction and poor planning. It’s as if Ambrose was turned just so WWE could heat him up and fill the void left by Roman’s departure. But then it all fell apart when the company couldn’t decide where to go from there.
Dean was positioned to be the top heel on Monday Night Raw and in WWE. But he had an amazing amount of heat for turning his back on Rollins the same night that Roman left. There was massive potential to create perhaps the most hated antagonist that WWE has seen in years. He was so close to assuming that role.
Watch Dean Ambrose betray Seth Rollins:
But the company resorted to cheap heat in order to get him over. Rather than focus on his problems with Rollins, Dean instead kept using Roman’s health to draw the ire of fans. But the move backfired, as the WWE faithful saw through it and realized that the company was lacking in creativity. Dean’s rise as the next great heel was doomed from the start.
Of course Seth’s current position in WWE must certainly be addressed. The Kingslayer will challenge Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania 35 in a match that many fans believe is a must-win for Rollins. Seth has been the top hand on Raw for the past year and that hard work appears to be paying off now. So how will that affect Roman’s attitude on February 25?
Roman is a babyface of course and he left Raw in Seth’s hands, which means that The Big Dog should have nothing but praise for his Shield brother. Roman has had his fair share of WrestleMania moments, as well as main event spotlight. This is Seth’s turn and Reigns will surely acknowledge that.
But there is a contingency of fans who believe that Roman will return as a heel. While this seems to defy all logic, there is no doubt that the groundwork has been laid to tell that exact story. After all, Roman was the most hated man in WWE before he left, though he never set out to play that role. Reigns was supposed to be a hero and a role model. But once again, WWE’s booking never seemed to be on point for him. So could Reigns come back with a massive chip on his shoulder and call out the WWE faithful for their hypocrisy?
Watch Roman backstage after his announcement:
Of course Roman’s heel and babyface status will be of little consequence if he’s coming back to announce his retirement. While there’s been nothing to confirm that possibility, the fact is that Roman is booked to appear on Good Morning America on the day after Raw. What are the chances that he’s going on the talk show circuit to discuss his condition and his premature departure from pro wrestling?
But that is certainly not the news that the majority of WWE fans want to hear. Roman may have been the most hated Superstar in the company, but with any luck, cooler heads have now prevailed. Fans have had enough time to process the situation and to understand that in the grand scheme of things, pro wrestling will never be as important as a man’s mortality. Roman Reigns deserves the right to either come back, or move on, in his own way. WWE is providing the platform for him on February 25. What happens from that point on is anyone’s guess.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes,YouTube, iHeart Radio, boinkstudios.com and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live