WOW. Just…just wow.
This floored me, and I don’t floor easily. Roman Reigns, WWE’s hand-picked heir to John Cena as the face of the company, has been suspended via the company’s Wellness Policy. It’s his first offense, and he’s out for 30 days.
WWE reportedly knew about Reigns’ offense prior to Money in the Bank, and acted accordingly. Reigns’ suspension will be up by Battleground on July 24. This week on Raw, he was booked to main event the pay per view in a triple threat match for the WWE Championship. He will, however, miss the draft on the July 19 edition of Smackdown.
Reigns had this to say via his Twitter account:
This explains the decision to not only have Seth Rollins beat Reigns for the title at Money in the Bank, but to then have Ambrose win it. Ambrose has now been established as their new babyface champion, as least until they decide what to do with Reigns.
But what do they do with Reigns? This is a major news story, and you’ve got to know the fans are going to be vocal about it when he comes back. Obviously Reigns has his haters, and this isn’t going to do anything to dispel that. Of course, so many of them jumped all over him when this happened. Who knew the internet was such a hateful place? I mean, besides everyone….
Let’s keep in mind that we know very little about the nature of Reigns’ offense. So let me emphasize that what I’m about to say is purely speculation: What if the pressure got to him? It’s no secret WWE was going against the grain with Roman as a babyface. I never faulted Roman for lack of trying. He’s going out there and doing what he’s told to do, and he’s been part of some great matches in the process. But for a huge portion of the audience, it isn’t working. That’s a lot to put on someone. I don’t say this as a slight against Reigns, but not everybody has John Cena’s resolve.
So now the question becomes: How do you handle this on television? If they knew this going into Money in the Bank, but still made that triple threat match for Battleground, that seems to indicate he’ll still be on the pay per view. But how do you address him not being on TV until then? If they came out there and said Rollins attacked him in the back or something, that would likely go over like a fart in church because it’s been so widely covered. So they almost have to acknowledge it. This isn’t like the Adam Rose suspension, where they can just pull him off TV and hope nobody notices.
Either way, WWE has egg on their face. Other than John Cena, this is the last guy they want getting bad publicity like this. Roman Reigns is their new Superman. And while the older fans may not like him, many of the kids in the audience are cheering for him. So does this derail WWE’s long term plans for Reigns as the next face of the company?
My answer: Probably not.
I’ll grant you this suspension hits WWE in the area their most conscious of nowadays: Their image. They crave “legitimacy” so bad, it’d be comical if it weren’t so frustrating. They’ve been okay with the poor guy getting booed in the main event of Wrestlemania. Twice. In the long run, this isn’t going to kill him. If they remain as committed to Reigns as they’ve been for the past two years or so, he’ll be just fine.
In the meantime, I suggest haters enjoy the break from Reigns, and all you in the “Roman Empire” can take comfort in the fact that he’s likely teflon at this point.
Images courtesy of WWE.
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