RAW Deal: The fall of the Roman (Reigns) Empire

Joe 'the Grappler' Marsalis
RAW Deal: The fall of the Roman (Reigns) Empire
The Roman Reigns experiment as its top babyface has been a failure. Turning him heel after violating the Wellness Policy is the WWE's only option

TAMPA, USA — This week on Monday Night RAW, the WWE did something they’ve never done before — in a year already full of things they’ve never done before — by acknowledging Roman Reigns’s 30-day suspension onscreen. And not just any acknowledgment; they’ve actually incorporated it in the ongoing storyline between all 3 ex-Shield members.

And because a guy like Roman Reigns has betrayed the public trust by failing the WWE Wellness Policy, now might be the right time to finally, finally turn Reigns heel. Clearly the Reigns experiment has failed — no matter how Vince McMahon tries to deny it — and this occurrence is a really convenient out they have to take. Even if Reigns took the high road and apologized, he just doesn’t have enough support to sustain his babyface character.

And it only makes sense if they’re going to be malicious and give Roman Reigns a title shot despite getting suspended.

The only problem is that Reigns cannot turn heel if he isn’t present in the storyline. No matter how much WWE can sway public perception through the actions of others, it’s still the character’s actions that define who he is at the moment. He can only remain righteous or become a dick through his own volition, and this is where the WWE must skirt around its own rules. Have Reigns interact with his opponents via social media. Everyone already does it in 2016, but the impact will be magnified by his absence.

The best way to go about it now? Have him start leaning more into callousness from his already-aloof demeanor. Do it through tweets and short videos online. (It’s already quite easy to be a dick on Twitter.) When he finally shows up again at Battleground, that’s when he continues the mean streak he showed back at Money in the Bank, unleashing the true Big Dog.

He’ll draw (unfavorable) comparisons to Brock Lesnar, but better a budget Lesnar than a failed John Cena.

What they do with Reigns at Battleground is the biggest test WWE faces for the New Era, if he’s still the guy (or one of the guys) they’ll be leaning on to carry the next generation. It seems to be clear that he’ll never be Cena, even though Cena was much-maligned (some of the hate deserving, some of it not) in his prime. He’s not Orton, either, because that’s Seth Rollins’s role. He might as well forge his own path.

Ultima Lucha 2

The second season of Lucha Underground is finally coming to a close over the next 3 weeks. For those who aren’t aware, Lucha Underground’s season finale, Ultima Lucha, are the length of a usual special event — the hours only spread out over weeks.

It’s funny: the last time Lucha Underground was ending a season, we were all anxious about whether they would return for another. A year later, the season finale is coming around again and we couldn’t really care less if we get them back.

In growing its universe, Lucha Underground had mostly stripped itself of the soul that exacted devotion from the believers in the Temple. The original franchise player, Prince Puma, has been relegated to a bit player, even though he’s pit against Rey Mysterio in a dream match. Favorites like Drago and Aero Star have been shuffled down the card, facing guys like Johnny Mundo. Old Mil Muertes, although compelling, has been made the star of the show despite fans clamoring for other stars. Matanza is an impressive athlete, but his emergence was just not built up enough to justify running roughshod over the roster. At the very least, fan favorite Pentagon Jr. is main-eventing the show.

This is all because of the second season getting shortened; it didn’t have nearly enough time as the first season to continue building the world and pacing all its story arcs properly. They plod through half-baked angles, but not because they really want to. It’s a shame, really, as Lucha Underground’s protracted season gave the show so much promise.

Quick predictions:

  • Cage wins the 4 A Unique Opportunity Tournament against The Mack, Son of Havoc, and Texano

  • Ivelisse defeats Taya

  • Black Lotus defeats El Dragon Azteca, Jr.

  • Prince Puma defeats Rey Mysterio

  • Mil Muertes defeats King Cuerno in a Death Match

  • Sexy Star wins the Gift of the Gods Ladder Match against Night Claw, Daga, Killshot, Mariposa, Marty the Moth, and Siniestro de la Muerte

  • Drago, Fenix, and Aero Star win the Trios Championships from Johnny Mundo, PJ Black, and Jack Evans

  • Pentagon, Jr. defeats Matanza Cueto to win the Lucha Underground Championship

– Rappler.com

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