With the WWE title now over his shoulder, Roman Reigns was no longer a good guy. Or a bad guy. He was simply, The Guy.
His third title reign got off to a hot start as WWE paired him to with AJ Styles. It was the perfect first feud for Roman and the "You Can't Wrestle" crowd. The feud accentuated the positives of The Big Dog in the ring. Roman could use his power to toss around The Phenomenal One, who has been a willing bumper his entire career.
The two had a great series of matches with Reigns coming out victorious in every counter. This was the Roman Reigns title that was going to cement him as the new face of WWE. Finally, WWE was going full bore with him. No cash in to ruin his moment. No Triple H needing to be champion one more time. This was the no-nonsense ass kicking Roman Reigns that fans had been clamoring for.
And then, he failed a drug test.
Since his name isn't Brock Lesnar, Reigns dropped the title to a returning Seth Rollins at Money in the Bank. Following the loss, he served his 30-day suspension. He returned at Battleground to participate in The Shield triple threat, losing clean to Dean Ambrose.
A loss to Finn Balor in the Universal title semifinals seemed to set Reigns on a downward spiral. Now, we were getting the story of a broken man who needed to pick himself back up and re-discover the fire that made him a three-time champion.
Instead, Reigns crashed the wedding celebration between Rusev and Lana, for no reason, and constantly beat up Rusev in front of his wife. Rusev got his revenge....by losing his United States title to Reigns. But remember, Roman was the good guy in this feud.
Failure to capture the Universal title from Kevin Owens at the end of 2016 and early 2017 put Reigns in the Royal Rumble at number 30. He finished runner-up to Randy Orton, but the story coming out of the event was his elimination of The Undertaker.
You see, The Undertaker really cared about winning the Royal Rumble and challenging for the WWE or Universal title at WrestleMania. And Roman Reigns took that away from him. Thus, The Deadman looked to put down The Big Dog at WrestleMania.
Despite the short build, limited stakes, and likely poor match quality, the bout between the two men in black headlined WrestleMania 33. This match was so important that they brought back Jim Ross to call it.
For a third straight year, Reigns' WrestleMania moment ended in sadness.
Most could see it coming a mile away. With no Streak mystique, Undertaker's WrestleMania matches lost a lot of luster. And while Reigns is better than given credit for in the ring, he still needs the right opponent and the right circumstances to deliver between the ropes. Wrestling a 52-year-old in a match with a weak build and no stakes was not the right opponent or circumstances.
Reigns and Undertaker turned in the worst WrestleMania main event since John Cena and the Miz in 2011.
The goal of the match was too, retire The Undertaker? Turn Roman Reigns heel? Pass the torch?
Your guess is as good as mine as two of those things didn't happen (assuming Undertaker does something this year) and the torch was theoretically passed the year prior.
- From The Web