The push for Roman Reigns is back on following his two-win night on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw that saw him become the new No. 1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. We wrote in our backstage news from WWE Hell in a Cell that Roman was once again primed for a top spot in WWE but we wanted to see the booking before a complete determination could be made. Now that we’ve seen said booking, it’s safe to say the Roman reboot has been green lighted.
The plan since 2014 was to put Roman Reigns over Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31, one that was derailed by unhappy reactions from fans that felt they were being force-fed the company's new golden boy. Now that time has passed, Daniel Bryan remains a question mark due to concussion issues and John Cena is out for a couple of months on planned time off, WWE will hope they will be able to successfully anoint Reigns as a top babyface.
It’s a notion that’s been challenged by many, including Steve Austin that stated in an interview with Sam Roberts over the summer that WWE will have to turn Reigns heel before they can get him over as a babyface. Vince McMahon remains undeterred and has kept Roman largely protected in 2015. While Seth Rollins has been the immediate beneficiary of the highly successful Shield faction, the plan has always been for Roman to develop into “the guy.”
WWE has struggled mightily in the development of new talent. It was something I found myself constantly distracted with during the Hell in a Cell match between Reigns and Bray Wyatt this past Sunday night. Why, in late 2015, are two “up and coming” superstars that seemingly have it all, still working in the proverbial undercard?
Both Reigns and Wyatt were given a daunting task at Hell in a Cell. Not only were they booked to follow John Cena dropping the WWE United States Championship to a returning Alberto Del Rio, they had to compete in a gimmick match that was going to be overshadowed no matter what due to The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar. If they were able to just make the match palatable it would have been considered a success, but they won the crowd over and put on a stellar gimmick match. That fact alone showed what Wyatt and Reigns are capable of and furthered the claims both should be further along by now.
Their hard work didn’t go unnoticed by the WWE brass either, as we noted, they received high marks backstage for their bout. The ball is back in WWE’s court as they will have to prove they can effectively book Reigns to get him where they want him to be - the next face of the company. It’s something that should have been done months ago but WWE desperately needs it to work if they’re ever going to get over relying on part-time talent and past superstars.
WWE has arguably the deepest talent roster they've ever had, even without tapping into the impressive list of talent currently in NXT. The issue is clearly not a lack of talent but a lack of knowing what to do with it. Will Vince McMahon be able to connect with his audience and give them the next top guy or will the plan be derailed due to the crowd not buying it? Only time will tell but what we know for sure, Reigns is going to get every opportunity possible.