Erick Rowan will face Roman Reigns at WWE Clash of Champions on Sunday, September 15. The match is the culmination of a storyline that’s played out over the past several weeks on SmackDown Live, in which The Big Dog has been personally targeted by an unknown assailant.
That assailant is none other than Rowan, Daniel Bryan’s right hand man. Now he and Reigns will face off in a major confrontation on the main event stage. But for many fans who have followed along with this story, the journey has been a rough one. The plot has been weak at best and the events of the past month have been highly forgettable. However for Erick Rowan, this is his time to step up.
While it’s indeed not been the most well received angle of all time in WWE, the fact is that the outcome may be the high point of the drama. The driving belief of this entire story was that it would end with Bryan versus Reigns. It seemed to be the most logical destination, especially with the history between both men.
Roman was in the midst of his WWE rise when Daniel returned from injury in 2015. The Big Dog was on his way to becoming the face of the company, but the WWE faithful were not all that interested in The Shield strongman. The situation worsened with Bryan’s return, when the extremely popular Superstar was not elevated to his former main event spot. WWE had made the turn from Daniel to Roman and from that point on, Reigns was blamed for the move.
Watch Rowan take out Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns!
The foundation for a great feud was definitely there and the only thing WWE had to do was make it happen. But like many other curious angles, Vince McMahon’s company took a different direction. Of course it’s entirely possible that Daniel Bryan versus Roman Reigns will be the endgame here and if so, then hopefully WWE will bring it all together in the end.
But in the meantime, Erick Rowan has been given what could very well be a career defining moment. The former Wyatt Family big man has always been portrayed as a vicious thug, a wild dog who attacks on command. He’s never been the man behind the operation, he’s always been the enforcer to carry out the man’s orders. But that’s apparently changed now.
Erick Rowan is firmly in the spotlight as the main antagonist of the story. He’s the primary heavy, the one that orchestrated the attacks on Roman and the one that now wants to put The Big Dog down. Rowan’s promo from the September 10 edition of SmackDown Live was a chance for him to make a statement and to seize the moment, which he most certainly did.
Watch Rowan’s promo and brawl with Reigns on SmackDown Live!
But his work has only just begun. If WWE fans are to take him seriously, then he must deliver in the ring. The match with Roman Reigns must be much more than just the typical big man versus big man bout with some high spots thrown in for good measure. This must be Rowan’s most impressive match to date, which means he has to truly make an impact.
The timing of this match is perhaps perfect, as Rowan has improved his game over the past year. He’s no longer a one-dimensional tough guy as he was before. He’s much more cerebral in his approach and he’s also more comfortable between the ropes. While many fans didn’t expect it, the fact is that Erick Rowan has become one of the best big men in WWE today. But that was likely never the prediction when Rowan first came to the main roster.
That’s because he came to WWE from NXT with Luke Harper. Harper has been compared to Bruiser Brody, because of his athleticism in the ring, as well as his character. Harper was never the wild man that Brody was, but he did have that look and he certainly had the talent. For many pro wrestling insiders, it was believed that Luke Harper would be one of the company’s next big main event stars.
But Harper never fully realized that top star status. So while his WWE fate is unknown, the fact is that Erick Rowan’s time is now. Working Roman Reigns may not necessarily provide Rowan with a ticket to the WWE Championship, but it may open the door for him to be considered in the main event conversation. If that is the case, then Rowan should be in good hands with Roman.
Relive Rowan’s NXT debut!
Reigns is a pro, a guy who always gives in the ring. The perception that he was pushed at the expense of others is behind him now. It could even be argued that Seth Rollins, not Roman Reigns, is now the face of WWE. If so, then Reigns is just another top star who will add his own touch to the career of a guy who’s worked hard to get a shot.
Erick Rowan has always done everything that’s been asked of him and he’s done it while getting better everyday. He’s not the same man he was before and he’s made every effort to succeed in WWE. All of that hard work appears to be paying off and Rowan will indeed step into a new environment when he squares up against The Big Dog on September 15.
If the two men mesh well together and if Rowan delivers at Clash of Champions, then WWE may find itself with a new major player in the big man category. Rowan has sat back in silence and observed, learning all he could from those around him. Now it’s time for him to take that knowledge and put it to the test. Erick Rowan may not be the star that fans expected, but he may just be the one that WWE could use at a very high level.
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