So Roman Reigns has been the WWE Universal Champion for 500 plus days. Ever since Reigns was promoted to the main roster back in 2012, reports stated that Vince McMahon saw him as the future of the company and planned on pushing the WWE Universal Champion as the top star. Creative tried their damn hardest to make sure that Reigns got over as a babyface, and for a brief period of time, it worked. The company wisely booked Reigns during his time in The Shield, but fans weren’t buying his act once he went solo. His big Royal Rumble win in 2015 was just the beginning of a rocky five-year run that saw him replace John Cena as the latest babyface to be booed out of the building. However, after Reigns revealed that he needed to take some time away during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the Florida native made his triumphant return at Summerslam 2020 by violently attacking both Braun Strowman and ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt after their match. This was the first time that Reigns was a heel as a singles star, and his newfound attitude and aggression fit him like a glove.
Following his win of the WWE Universal title a week later, what enhanced Roman Reigns’ act was not only the addition of Paul Heyman as his manager but The Tribal Chief story involving Jey Uso. This was arguably some of the best character work of both Reigns and Jey’s careers. The family drama that would ultimately see Reigns as the head of the table created nice magic that showcased Reigns’ natural charisma and highlighted why he should’ve gone heel a long time ago. Following his feud with Jey Uso, Reigns title run continued to be the most compelling aspect of WWE television, with his battles against Kevin Owens, Edge, and Daniel Bryan standing out in a big way. Cesaro also got a nice moment to shine at Wrestlemania Backlash in one of the best matches of 2021. However, Reigns’ act had gotten a bit stale once the group nicely settled in late 2021. Jey and Jimmy were nothing more than henchmen, and the interesting layers regarding their relationship with Reigns disappeared. Reigns’ mafia boss act perfectly suits him and the addition of Paul Heyman has done nothing but elevate his career entirely, but the biggest issue is that the WWE Universal Champion is out of compelling opponents.
To get the best out of Reigns’ story, the Smackdown star needs a compelling set of challengers. Unfortunately, fighting Brock Lesnar for the thousandth time isn’t going to do the trick. I get that the dynamic between Lesnar and Reigns is different, but the company has pushed Reigns so hard that nobody except Brock Lesnar feels on his level. WWE had a chance to change that at the Royal Rumble. Reigns was never dropping the belt to Seth Rollins as it was clear that the RAW star was a quick substitution following the situation at Day One. Admittedly, the rivalry between Rollins and Reigns brought back a nice spark to The Tribal Chief’s title reign thanks to their rich history, but the RAW star was never a believable threat to take the belt off of Reigns. WWE Needs new stars and the company had the opportunity to create one during the Royal Rumble. They didn’t and instead hammered home the point that the only two acts that truly mattered on the men’s side are Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar.
The Lesnar/Reigns dynamic got old pretty fast during the build to Day One. These guys have had so many matches against one another that their upcoming battle doesn’t feel special. Reigns is in such a strong position that he has the power to actually put over a new up-and-coming star. Reigns’ story is no longer interesting because he’s just become your typical “heel that needs to cheat to win”, even though Paul Heyman goes out of his way to add more layers to the Universal Champion’s character thanks to his tremendous mic work. Reigns needs a fresh opponent to bring out something new and worthwhile. The problem he’s beaten everyone on Smackdown, and the company doesn’t seem to be gearing anyone other than Drew McIntyre for an eventual showdown. Reigns has been a boring character for a while now and the eventual showdown against “The Beast Incarnate” won’t likely bring out the best in him. Perhaps it’s time for Reigns to drop the belt as he’s done all that there is to do at the time. It appears that he will at WrestleMania, it’s just a shame that it’ll probably be to Brock Lesnar instead of an up-and-coming star who would’ve benefitted greatly with a win over the WWE Universal Champion.