I didn’t watch last week’s Crown Jewel for numerous reasons, the least of which being that it aired at noon eastern time on a Thursday. But controversial pay per views and glossy packages for matches 30% of their audience didn’t watch aside, it seemed to be business as usual for WWE on their weekly programs. The number one topic was the Big Dog himself, Universal Champion Roman Reigns.
Reigns and Brock Lesnar had a possibly-no-DQ-possibly-regular-match that, again, I didn’t tune in to. But Reigns’ triumphant promo and a brief recap of the match on Friday night told me all I needed to know. It was another rousing success for the Bloodline and Paul Heyman, who is no longer torn between the two loves of his life. He’s Team Roman now and forever, til death do they part.
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On the season premiere of SmackDown, a show that literally never goes on hiatus, Reigns came out to the typical crowd boos to once again put over all the men he’s punched in the face. The champ was luckily drafted to stay on the blue brand, which saved us another segment where both belts touched the floor quicker than a five year old taking off their Party City costume hat at 10:30 on Halloween.
The Big Dog’s Forever Reign
I’m not the first to say this, and I certainly won’t be the last, but Reigns has been on another level as of late. While I’ve always enjoyed the samoan Joe in the ring, this new side of Reigns has allowed him to show off in ways he never did before. Turns out that handsome pretty boys are very good at being conceited.
Roman again called out Lesnar on Friday, and the ponytailed muscle man answered the phone while sporting a plaid vest and some great light wash jeans. I think all wrestlers should take style notes from Brock, but that’s a topic for another time. After Lesnar took out Reigns, Uso, and anyone Adam Pearce disliked enough to send into the line of fire, the Bloodline scampered away. Pearce then suspended Lesnar for breaking company cameras on Reigns’ face, giving the man some time to come up with another surprising hairstyle to debut in a few months. Of course, this leaves us, and Roman, with a different problem; who else can step up?
As Reigns told us Friday night, he’s been there, defeated that. He’s gotten around more than your uncle at an all you can eat buffet. After a victory, controversial or not, over Sable’s husband, the only question now comes from another man Reigns has defeated—who’s next? He’s smashed the current roster and stacked the legends. Is there anyone left?
A Possible New Day
I obviously don’t work for WWE—if I did my Twitter would be way less funny and my rent way more manageable—but let’s pretend I am and let me do some fantasy booking here. It’s almost November. Survivor Series is just around the corner: the one night a year where Raw and SmackDown go head to head, plus sometimes NXT but absolutely never, ever 205 Live or NXT UK. Survivor Series is consistently one of the better pure wrestling shows of the year, simply because it includes people at the top of their game. Barring some unfortunate turns of events, we’re on track to get a personal dream match for me in Roman vs Big E. While that alone should be a moneymaker, I’m playing God here so I’m gonna sweeten the pot. WWE should unify the titles at Survivor Series.
Since SmackDown became live way back in 2016, WWE has been using atwo brand system. With their insane depth of talent it makes sense to have top people on both brands, but since the inception of the Universal title five years ago, there’s rarely been a time where both men’s titles felt equal. The big red Universal belt was hot potatoed for a while, landing from part time champ to part time champ to big clown guy. I’d argue that the past year was the first time it really felt the Universal Title and the WWE were on the same page.
Reigns was the man to elevate the blue belt—not to diminish the champions who came before him. But with Reigns, the title clawed it’s way out of the Florida swamp to sit at the big table, right across from it’s less colorful cousin. While I accept the shine may have worn off for some, and the t shirts arguably make me want to eat at Waffle House more than they make me want to watch WWE, there’s no denying the magnetism of the Tribal Chief. He’s helped carry the company through some (often self inflicted) very rough times. But this takes us back to the same problem; when you’re the best of the best, what else is there to do?
Here’s where Big E takes center stage. Mr Money in the Bank, the WWE Champion, the powerhouse of positivity, and a man who’s worked his ass off to get to where he is right now. E’s cash in and victory was one of the best feel good moments of the year, and that’s shockingly something nearly everyone can agree on. On the opposite side of the spectrum from Roman, E didn’t change a thing about himself to earn this spot. While Roman embraced his inner Tony Soprano, Big E remained his goofy self, rolling down the ramp to the ring and doing exaggerated splits that no human man should be able to do. The New Day, as the most influential stable of the past decade, bar none, refused to compromise on their personalities. They didn’t want to get “serious” to get ahead. They didn’t have to beat up family members on live TV to earn respect. And a pancake slinging, hip thrusting Big E ending the Bloodline? It just makes sense.
WWE is getting trounced by their unnamed competition week in and week out, and I don’t even have to watch TNT to know that. They can pack extra minutes into SmackDown and show entire pay-per-views on Fox, but if they can’t turn it out in the ring, nothing else is going to matter. I’d never argue that the Big Dog can’t make it happen, but they’ve really backed themselves into a corner after he’s smothered and diced everybody in sight. The match is already happening—and it’s already going to be incredible—but the idea of Big E walking away unequivocal champ? I’d call that a company saving move.