Roman Reigns’ Inaction Has Hurt the Value and Prestige of WWE’s Championships
WWE has had a title problem for a long time now and it’s an issue that has finally made its way to the main-event scene via Roman Reigns.
On paper, Reigns winning and “unifying” both of WWE’s top men’s titles wouldn’t be a terrible misfire. It was the organic peak for his historic run since returning as a heel, with there being plenty of outs for getting at least one title off him at a later date.
Instead, WWE has thrown both men’s main-event scenes into holding patterns and hasn’t told much of a story around Reigns while blatantly dragging feet until the next WrestleMania to do anything of note.
Case in point, according to Sports Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso, Reigns is no longer scheduled to appear at Money in the Bank on July 2. That means no men’s top title defended, nor an appearance at all from the face of the company. Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Michael Perry of Ringside News) reported Reigns won’t defend a title until SummerSlam, all the way on July 30.
Meaning, since April 2 at WrestleMania, Reigns has appeared in one televised match that was merely a tag-team affair. He’s otherwise flirted with solo feuds but there’s little to nothing doing there. If WWE ends up throwing fans a bone and makes him defend a title on a weekly broadcast, it’s pretty blatant his opponent would never have a chance of winning.
Interestingly, we might be at a point where if a Superstar does upend Reigns for one of his titles, it might just feel like the company overreacting to the worsening problem. There isn’t really a good way out of the corner. It’s likely going to come down to either a dusty finish that could be unsatisfying or downright not believable since Reigns has been on a tear, most recently taking down one of the best of all time.
Back in the day when Brock Lesnar was a part-time champion, there was an expectation that, while at least somewhat annoying, that was the exception for the company’s top champion. It made him feel a little more exclusive and his appearances more of the must-see variety.
But Reigns isn’t a part-time Superstar, at least not in the eyes of fans. That makes this sporadic booking and lack of stories for two top titles all the more jarring when say, compared to a recent run by Drew McIntyre while he carried the company on his back through the audience-less pandemic era.
This also loops back to the shoddy booking that got WWE to this point. Reigns rarely defending a title or even getting in a ring would be just fine if he only had one title. That’s one point and/or advantage of a split, right?
Instead, he’s got both, and the rest of the men’s roster is left to feud over pretty much nothing. That would normally be an exaggeration, but the Intercontinental and U.S. titles didn’t even get a spot on a two-night WrestleMania this year.
WWE can try to rectify these problems with the lower titles of course, but that might only make the actual world titles feel diminished, too. The rest of roster chasing the middle-tier titles while the very top titles are reserved for Reigns and the likes of Lesnar or even The Rock would be unappealing.
Maybe there’s an angle where WWE can salvage some of this issue by weaving it into Reigns’ character. But even that, though somewhat logical, would flirt with fans simply becoming disinterested. WWE has arguably been its best when its champions are fighting champions. Reigns shrugging off defending his title because he’s so accomplished or whatnot might create the fan backlash he and the company received all those years ago when he was in the endless babyface role.
Funnily, the fix for WWE is easy. Have Reigns take a few fights that actually matter. In an ideal world, Reigns’ eventual loss really helps put over the next top guy(s). But if the fix doesn’t happen, his losing any title would feel like a relief for the wrong reasons.
The way things continue to trend, Reigns’ historic title run might actually be starting to hurt everything it touches, not uplift it.
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