Latest posts by Jonathan Johannes (see all)
- The Complete History of Hell In a Cell: Badd Blood ’97 - 12th March 2017
- Backseat Booking: The Elusive Roman Reigns Heel Turn - 9th March 2017
- Goldberg Wins Universal Championship!WWE Fastlane 2017 Results and Analysis - 6th March 2017
Roman Reigns. The Big Dog. The Conquering Hero. The Baby Face Barbarian. Vince McMahon’s Favorite Heat Magnet.
WWE seems to have a huge crush on the Samoan Superman and have been desperately trying to make him a fan favorite since the SHIELD break up. While I do believe that there are many better options for creating a potential baby face super star (Zayn, Cesaro, or any given member of the New Day), I didn’t quite get the fan backlash until Royal Rumble 2017.
In his title match against fan favorite Kevin Owens, it took the interference from Chris Jericho and Braun Strowman to finally bring Roman down, and yet Roman is supposed to be the beloved baby face here. He took a Stone Cold Stunner and a Superman Punch with brass knuckles, maneuvers that would make any superstar from the Attitude Era quake, and Roman shook it off like it was nothing.
Roman Reigns’s needs to struggle and occasionally lose clean in order to work as a hero, but WWE’s creative staff refuses to make him look vulnerable to anything. He overcomes incredible odds on a regular basis, which isn’t really good storytelling if you’re trying to make a relatable character. If the WWE minds refuse to book Roman to struggle, then they need to book his character appropriately with his matches.
His character is a little boring and awkward most of the time, though he’s had his moments of brilliance (put that beef away!). But if you’ve listened to the crowd on any given RAW or PPV in 2016, you’ll hear a cacophony of disapproval, and unless there’s something going on behind the scenes (like incredible merchandise sales that I don’t know about) Roman Reigns needs to rebrand and badly.
This isn’t a new idea. I’m more or less parroting something that’s been popular opinion for well over a year now. They had a chance at Fastlane 2016, but he pinned Ambrose clean. Nothing. They had a chance against fan favorite, best in the world AJ Styles. They opted to turn AJ instead (to be fair, those were some of the best matches of 2016). They had a chance with Seth Rollins at Money in the Bank. Nothing. He belittled Rusev’s wife and somehow was supposed to be the good guy. He even got suspended for real life Wellness Policy violations, and they still tried to make him out to be the conquering hero after giving a few token pinfalls to Rollins, Ambrose, and Balor.
Aside from about a one month disciplinary period, Roman’s been booked as an unstoppable beast. He never loses clean. He’s never tapped out to my knowledge. He has an incredibly powerful looking move set (aside from the Superman Punch), and he looks like he got pulled from SWAT training. He’s the only SHIELD member who has refused to evolve after the break up. Everything about this man screams heel, villain, bad guy, the dragon for the dragon slayer. Instead, WWE is pushing him to be another John Cena.
The crowd seems to be programmed to shriek upon hearing the opening riff of his theme music and I don’t think that will change any time soon. However, since the company has withstood the cascade of hisses for so long already, WWE needs to hold out a bit longer. The Roman heel turn should wait until the Authors of Pain are ready for the main roster.
Before Rezar and Akam are ready to be called up, writers should really be ramping up the heat for Roman. Perhaps have him take the Universal Championship from Owens/Lesnar/Goldberg at Payback this year. He should beat current baby faces like Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe Cesaro, maybe even the newly semi-turned Sheamus while still being championed as “the guy.”
And then, we build a friendly rivalry with Seth Rollins. Give it a sort of “may the best man win” feel to it. Have them team up against The Club or Rusev and Jinder Mahal.
Then the Authors of Pain make their debut, and confront Roman and Rollins. Ellering proclaims that they will be the most dominant stable of all time. They brawl, with Roman and Rollins getting the upper hand. The two teams have a tag match, and Rollins eats the pin after a mistimed Spear takes him out. Roman blames Rollins for the loss and leaves him behind for the Authors to batter to the amusement of Ellering.
At the Money in the Bank Universal Title match, have it be a close, back and forth brawl, but Rollins gets the upper hand for the last five minutes or so. He reverses everything Roman throws at him. The match feels like it’s about to wrap up in favor Rollins, who hits a buckle bomb before setting up for the Pedigree. Just before the finisher is hit, the Authors of Pain music hits. Rollins lets go of Roman and brings his attention to Rezar and Akam who walk to the end of the ramp and stop. Roman slowly gets to his feet and subtly backs into the corner opposite of Rollins. Rezar and Akam smirk at Rollins. They gesture for him to turn around, and he’s hit by a vicious Spear.
1, 2, 3.
Roman leaves the ring with his title. The Authors of Pain enter the ring and beat down Rollins. Roman casually walks up the ramp meeting Paul Ellering at the top. They both watch Akam and Rezar hit the Last Chapter. When they finally relent, Roman rests his championship on his shoulder. He claps, and smirks. Rezar and Akam march up to Roman and Ellering, and they all raise their hands in the air in triumph.
Roman Reigns officially joins The Authors of Pain.
There’s a lot of sense to this. Firstly, Roman gets a manager in Paul Ellering that can talk him up. He gets the heel turn that compliments his move set and a stable that compliments his appearance. His character weakness is erased by proxy of a strong faction, and all he has to do now is beat up everyone around him like he already does. The Authors of Pain can be the next big faction, and there’s even a possibility to expand with performers like Nia Jax and Luke Harper.
Side Note: The Authors of Pain should never expand beyond five active wrestlers. We don’t need an NWO situation.
The Authors of Pain will never actively interfere with any matches for their stable. Instead, they’ll accompany fellows members to the ring, and then after the match, regardless of who wins, The Authors of Pain leave any and all opponents in a heap on the mat. They leave an impact on their opponents. Results cease to matter.
After leaving Seth Rollins battered again in a title defense on Raw, Ellering proclaims that with the Authors of Pain in his corner, Roman Reigns is unbeatable. Roman stands there with that condescending smirk he does so well. Suddenly, the arena lights turn red. On the ramp, Finn Balor in his demon makeup emerges through a cloud of fog and stares down Roman.
You might recall that, as of this writing, Balor was the last superstar to get a clean win over Reigns in a one on one match. You may also recall that Finn Balor knows a little something about stable building.
Finn Balor makes a challenge for the Universal Championship after successfully winning feuds with Rusev and Kevin Owens. Knowing that he was the last one to really get one over on Roman Reigns, he faces the entirety of the Authors of Pain without backup and pays for it, getting hit by all of the finishing moves from every member.
Balor vs. Reigns Part 1 at Clash of Champions should favor Reigns. The Authors stand outside the ring, irritating Balor and distracting him just enough for Reigns to get the win with a Spear. The entirety of the match will take place in the ring, and after the match, Balor will be mauled by the entire faction.
The next night on Raw, Ellering preaches over how The Authors of Pain are untouchable, really reveling in the heat from the crowd. Finn Balor challenges Roman again, admitting that he was distracted by the possibility of a five on one situation, but that next time, he won’t be worried.
For Balor vs. Reigns Part 2 at Hell in a Cell, Balor enlists the help of The New Day and Sasha Banks who neutralize the Authors of Pain backstage, leaving Balor and Reigns 1 on 1, where Balor picks up the win and becomes the first 2-time Universal Champion. On every Raw from the end of Hell in a Cell to Survivor Series, Roman Reigns should lay waste to every baby face singles competitor on the roster, whether during a match or backstage. Mustering up the nerve to speak, he proclaims that Finn Balor’s last chapter is about to be written.
Survivor Series arrives, and The Authors of Pain dominate in all facets. Nia Jax wins the Women’s Championship. Luke Harper wins the U.S. Championship. Akam and Razar win the Tag Team Championship. Each win is clean.
Finally the winner take all match at Survivor Series will be a ladder match. Balor and Reigns slug it out one final time, no more rematches, and you could really have either man win here. You can make Balor the dragon slayer of the WWE, or reinforce Reigns as the dominant force that he’s been portrayed as for so long.
The Authors of Pain enter together, showing off all of their gold they’ve earned throughout the night. Roman enters the ring with confidence and the other four members surround. Finn Balor enters with the only ladder used in the match slung across his shoulder during his entrance. He starts the match by throwing the ladder at Roman from the floor and taking a couple of cheap shots at Akam and Razar. Balor gets some very quick and strong offense in, but is suddenly stopped when he’s Speared out of the air. Roman then controls the match, hitting a power bomb, a few corner clotheslines, and a huge boot out of the ring. The faction surrounds Balor, but Roman screams at them not to interfere.
After a grueling match where both men take several hard shots, it takes a 1916 onto the ladder and a Coup de Grace from atop the ladder to keep Roman down long enough for Balor to ascend the likely bent ladder and retrieve his championship. After the match, the Authors of Pain storm the ring, but Balor is able to escape into the crowd, leaving the way Roman Reigns used to enter the arena.
I believe for the most impactful story, Balor wins here, even with the Authors of Pain looming on the outside. Finn continues his trajectory that started at SummerSlam 2016, and hopefully he can have a satisfactory reign with the Universal Championship that he should have had in the first place. Roman Reigns struggles against a superior rival that maybe he’ll be able to redeem himself against with the roles reversed down the line.