For the fourth straight year, Roman Reigns is set to headline WrestleMania. The only other man to go on last at WrestleMania four straight years is Hulk Hogan.
For four years, WWE has attempted to coronate "The Big Dog" as "The Guy" in the WWE Universe. And every year, they have failed him. For the next four weeks, I'll take a look back at what has gone wrong with Roman Reigns' push leading up the biggest show of the year. For a company so desperate to make Reigns the face of the company, why are they so hesitant in going all-in with him?
Our journey begins shortly after WrestleMania 30, when Seth Rollins stabbed his brothers in The Shield in the back with a chair. While Dean Ambrose looked for revenge, Reigns had bigger fish to fry. He was thrust into the vacant WWE title picture. The explosion of his brotherhood and wanting revenge on Rollins took a backseat for over a year.
Shortly after SummerSlam, where he defeated Randy Orton, Reigns suffered an injury that kept him off of television until December. He returned to accept his Slammy for Superstar of the Year. By all accounts, voting was legitimate. The fans were behind him.
And this is where the ball was dropped. Instead of going after Rollins, who had mocked his injury, in his return, he went after The Big Show. He beat The Big Show in a series of matches by count out and disqualification.
Although his failure to collect clean wins over the 20-year-old veteran was detrimental to his build, WWE caught a bad break leading up to the Royal Rumble. Daniel Bryan, the guy who everyone wanted as the champion, returned from injury to reclaim the title he never lost. Reigns was never going to be accepted as "The Guy" with Bryan back in action. But WWE did him no favors.
At the Royal Rumble, Bryan was in at number 10 and eliminated in 10 minutes. The fans revolted. It was a signal to the audience that Reigns would win, which was always the plan, despite some fans hoping otherwise. Instead of going full blast with Reigns, he laid in the corner for 20 minutes. When it was finally time for him to overcome The Big Show, Kane, and Rusev to win...he needed help. The Rock had to help him overcome the odds, positioning Reigns as a weak babyface heading into WrestleMania.
A victory over Daniel Bryan at Fastlane helped build Reigns as a credible challenger. More importantly, it told fans to move on from Bryan and accept Reigns.
The weeks leading up to WrestleMania 31 were filled with video packages and promos. But the last memory everyone has of Lesnar-Reigns is the tug of war that ended the go-home episode of RAW.
The match between Lesnar and Reigns is one of the most underrated matches in the last five years. Lesnar looked motivated after signing a new contract to stay in WWE and Reigns went to Suplex City like a man.
Instead of Reigns slaying The Beast at WrestleMania, signifying that he would lead the company moving forward, WWE got cold feet. They had Seth Rollins cash in and leave Santa Clara with the WWE title.
Many were happy that Reigns didn't get the belt, but it was a short-term solution that sacrificed the long-term plan.
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