The Reigns of Joe: Is it killing WWE’s Momentum?

Share

By Ron Johnson

On August 30, 2020 Roman Reigns made his official return to in-ring competition by defeating Braun Strowman and “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt to become Universal Champion. At the time, the attitude, demeanor and mindset had changed on him as he embraced more of his Tribal side than ever before.

Almost three years later, it appears that is not set to change anytime soon.

On August 30, 2020 Roman Reigns made his official return to in-ring competition by defeating Braun Strowman and “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt to become Universal Champion. At the time, the attitude, demeanor and mindset had changed on him as he embraced more of his Tribal side than ever before.

Almost three years later, it appears that is not set to change anytime soon.

WWE

WWE Payback: The Beginning

Due to COVID and with the global lockdown taking place, a highly anticipated showdown at WrestleMania 36 between Reigns and WWE Hall of Famer Goldberg was put on the shelf. In reality, the wrestler known as Leati Joseph “Joe” Anoa’i is a leukemia survivor and fighter. Due to COVID, he opted NOT to take the risk of endangering his health and pulled out of the competition, which no one can really fault him for at that time. 

Not even me.

At that ‘Mania, Strowman would go on to win his first singles championship in that match with Goldberg and hold it for five months before losing it to Wyatt. After the match, however, Reigns would return and proceed to decimate both men making it clear that this new persona as well as a new era was about to begin in WWE.

48 hours prior to WWE Payback, Reigns embraced his heel* side by aligning himself with ECW Founder and top manager, Paul Heyman (or Paul E. Dangerously if you are as old as I am). 

In a weird loophole, Reigns would only sign the contract for the Universal title at Payback once the actual bout between Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman was underway. There, he captured his second Universal Championship—a title he still holds to date. (Nath, 2021)

At the end of Payback, the above photo was the start of this new era in WWE.

The List of Joe: Acknowledgement Man!

During his second reign as Universal Champion, Reigns has defeated a who’s who of wrestling royalty, hall of famers and first ballot hall of famers. He started this reign with a defense of the championship against his cousin Jey Uso a month after winning it.

He then defeated Braun Strowman in a Braun’s rematch for the title on SmackDown before battling his cousin Jey again inside Hell in a Cell in an ‘I Quit’ match. It was here that Uso was forced to join his cousin’s ranks as the birth of The Bloodline was slowly beginning. 

Following that Hell in a Cell Match, we started seeing Jey Uso blossom from tag team specialist to main event status as he would do anything and everything to ensure his cousin’s stay at the top of the mountain was guaranteed.

This included a trifecta of battles with Kevin Owens to end 2020 followed by a slew of title defenses against the likes of Bryan Danielson (aka Daniel Bryan) and WWE Hall of Famer, ‘The Rated R Superstar’ Edge. 

Following a triple threat match at WrestleMania 37 in Tampa, Florida, Reigns walked up the ramp, looked straight at the camera and said simply two words that would resonate and be spoken almost weekly since: ACKNOWLEDGE ME!

Following that night, he would go on to “end” Daniel Bryan’s career in WWE (this would lead to Danielson debuting in AEW in September of that year), followed by wins against Cesaro, Rey Mysterio, Edge, John Cena and both personas of Finn Balor.

During this time frame, a familiar foe returned to challenge this new persona as Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins both came calling for the Tribal Chief’s head. ALSO in the middle of this, the match that was supposed to happen at WrestleMania 36 with Goldberg finally happened, but it fell flat. 

This would lead to one of the biggest matches in WrestleMania history as it was set to be Lesnar vs. Reigns in a WWE/Universal title unification match, a match that was ultimately won by Reigns himself. pastedGraphic_3.png

The Rules Have Changed

This was back in 2022, and Roman has not looked back since. After defeating Matt Riddle, Reigns would survive a Last Man Standing Match with Lesnar at last year’s SummerSlam, where there was the added stipulation that if Lesnar did not defeat Reigns, he would not be allowed to challenge for the title so long as Reigns held on to it.

Following Lesnar, YouTube icon Logan Paul and “Scottish Warrior” Drew McIntyre competed for the title only to fall short. However, during McIntyre’s match at Clash at the Castle (a match in which no member of The Bloodline was allowed at ringside), the final piece of the puzzle at that time arrived on the main roster** in the form of Solo Sikoa, brother of The Usos. 

With this, The Bloodline was complete and all ahead full. Should be smooth sailing from here…right???

The Downfall of The Bloodline

One can say that while the story of The Bloodline has been entertaining, it does appear that they are running out of options as far as challengers to the throne. At the tail end of the summer of 2022, Sami Zayn was incorporated into The Bloodline as someone who was just needing a place to belong.

During this tumultuous relationship, Sami was the bulletproof vest for anyone looking to attack anyone from The Bloodline as he took a lot of hits during his tenure with them…but he gave a few hits as well.

One of the best ones was from this episode of SmackDown in which Zayn introduced the world to a new kind of mood: Feeling Ucey.

This was a moment in which every member of The Bloodline, even the stoic Solo could not keep a straight face.

But not everything in The Bloodline was sunshine and roses as we found out at The Royal Rumble. When tasked to eliminate his “brother in arms” Kevin Owens after a match for the title with Reigns. Rather than deal the death blow to Owens, Zayn chose to bring back a Shield flashback and whack Reigns in the back, leading to a beatdown from Jimmy Uso and Solo.

On this same night, AEW founder Cody Rhodes won the Royal Rumble Match to earn a shot at Reigns at WrestleMania. Between Rumble and ‘Mania, though, Reigns had unfinished business with Zayn and defended the title against him at Elimination Chamber in Zayn’s hometown of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. But who was missing from this onslaught was Jey himself as he felt conflicted about attacking Zayn at the time. 

That would change a short while later as The Road to WrestleMania would indeed begin. 

After reuniting on an edition of SmackDown prior to WrestleMania, Owens and Zayn decided to turn their attention to the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships. A match was set up for ‘Mania, accepted by Jey Uso himself. While the Maple Leaf Mayhem celebrated a tag team championship victory on night one of WrestleMania, Cody fell short of his goal to dethrone Reigns, thanks in large part to interference from all the members of The Bloodline. 

While Rhodes’ attention was now focused on Lesnar (for…reasons), Owens and Zayn were informed that they will defend the tag team championships against Solo and Reigns at Night of Champions in Saudi Arabia. And for the record, I don’t give a rat’s ass about Saudi Arabia.

In fact, I’m disappointed in WWE for continuing to do business with a country that murders journalist who talk negatively about their so called “illustrious kingdom.” In any event, all was going well for Reigns and Solo during this bout, until The Usos supposedly defied orders from The Tribal Chief and made the trip there to help them win the gold…

…or so we thought.

You see, the night before on SmackDown, Roman chose to punk Jimmy after Reigns was talking about his 1000-day title reign celebration. As the show ended, Reigns demanded that Jimmy and Jey give them the tag team titles after decimating Owens and Zayn, which reluctantly, they did. But after Jimmy saw Roman pie-face Jey during the main event, Jimmy snapped and superkicked Roman.

As Jey tried to go over to check on Reigns, Jimmy stopped him and screamed, “Listen to me Uce. I’m doing what you should’ve done a long time ago. I got you.” And with that, Jimmy did this:

Following this, Owens delivered a stunner to Solo that sent him to the corner, setting up Zayn to deliver a picture perfect Helluva Kick to pick up the victory in his native land and prevent Reigns from hoisting up the title with Solo. 

That Friday on SmackDown, Roman was presented with a brand-new Undisputed WWE Championship from Triple H to commemorate the 1000-day reign.

As Reigns prepared to speak on the milestone, his cousins arrived to crash the party and also try to talk some sense into Roman. Just when it looked like Roman would come around though, he said no, triggering Solo to deliver the Samoan Spike to his brother Jimmy.

As Jey held his brother in disbelief, Solo walked out the ring with Roman and Heyman. The following Monday, Paul Heyman was on RAW to announce that Friday on SmackDown, Jey will stand by his brother…Solo…acknowledge the Tribal Chief and leave his twin in the rearview…or else.

He sweetened this deal by getting Jey a shot at the United States Championship later that evening. The plan was to have Jey win the gold, and next week, conduct a celebration with the return of Roman, the arrival of the new United States Champion and on top of all this, make official that Jey is being groomed to become the next Tribal Chief. 

As the match reached its epic conclusion, and after a blatant interference from Pretty Deadly, Jimmy came down to defend his brother, followed by Solo looking to spike Jimmy once more. Jey however stopped the Spike but caught a superkick in the process:

This would cost Jey the United States Championship, leaving him more confused and irate at both of his brothers as well as at Paul Heyman.

Roman Reigns is slated to return this Friday, and with Jey Uso making it clear that the only way he will be back in The Bloodline is if Heyman is out of it, the story is getting rather nuts. However, is having Roman as champion for over 1000 days really necessary? 

Let’s be clear: Danielson, Edge, Cena, McIntyre, Lesnar, Rhodes, even Jey should’ve beaten Roman for that title. It is no longer a matter of why not anymore; it is more a question of WHY? The fact is this: While Roman has solidified himself as a first ballot hall of famer and possibly GOAT status, the fact that it took him so long to finally get over and embrace the shit sandwich known as his career should say tons.

Hulk Hogan was able to turn an entire fanbase against him with one simple leg drop in Daytona Beach. John Cena was able to turn the WWE Universe on him just by embracing his Thuganomics persona. Seth Rollins was able to make fans hate him by turning on Reigns and Jon Moxley. Bully Ray was able to turn a company and a legion of fans on his character just by assaulting various legends of the sport including Hogan, Sting, Jeff Hardy, Josh Alexander and Scott D’Amore. 

So why the bluest of blue hells did it take Roman Reigns over five years to embrace what people already felt about him before his first trip to Suplex City? A puppet named Peanut said it best: “Polish a turd, it’s still a turd.” 

But here we are. The summer has officially begun, and with little to no true challengers to the gold on the horizon, it does appear that there may be a chance at some regurgitation. I feel that only this time, it will most likely be Jimmy going one on one with Roman instead of Jey.

It is pretty safe to say that all that is happening in The Bloodline could easily have happened without Roman having the Undisputed Championship. Now while there are those who believe that Joe should keep the championship forever, there have been rumblings and scuttlebutt going around the wrestling world. 

One such rumor is this: It is reported that Roman Reigns will most likely hold on to the WWE Undisputed Championship as WWE does not want him to lose either of his titles on the road to WrestleMania 39. According to Xero News, WWE will reportedly have Reigns drop the WWE title in the Draft followed by WrestleMania 39. (Singh, 2023)

Either way, it is clear that this mission to build the company around him is about to run its course due in large part to speculation that several WWE talent could be getting released in early 2024. The reason for this? So that WWE could swiftly pursue Maxwell Jacob Friedman, the current AEW World Champion. If this is indeed the case, anything is truly possible. However, how many times can you have a guy force a missionary statement down your throat before you decide that enough is enough? While it may be working on the sports entertainment side, true wrestling fans want to see wrestling. 

I may respect Joe the man for his dedication to his craft and put family and health above his career, but when it comes to Roman Reigns, well…he can go choke himself for all I care. Like an old WWE sign from a fan said: pastedGraphic_11.png

References

Nath, R. (2021, August 26). When did Roman Reigns win the Universal Championship? Retrieved from Sportskeeda: https://www.sportskeeda.com/wwe/when-roman-reigns-win-universal-championship

Singh, R. (2023, January 2). WWE is Reportedly Planning to Have Roman Reigns Drop the WWE Championship After WrestleMania 39. Retrieved from The Sports Rush: https://thesportsrush.com/wwe-wrestling-news-wwe-is-reportedly-planning-to-have-roman-reigns-drop-the-wwe-championship-after-wrestlemania-39/

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *