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Does WWE dare to deviate from Roman Reigns?



Does WWE dare to deviate from Roman Reigns?

You don’t necessarily need to be a big WWE fan to know that Roman Reigns is the current and reigning WWE Champion. He appears in enough external media wearing his championship belts for most people to be aware of that.

We say “belts” as a plural because Reigns isn’t just the WWE Champion; he’s also the Universal Champion and has been for over a thousand days. He’s a record-breaking champion; reigns (no pun intended) of this length simply don’t happen in the modern era.

Most fans, by and large, accept that Roman Reigns is the biggest star that WWE has right now. He’s the most likely to follow the path of his cousin Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson into the world of movies, and he’s the automatic cover star of every product WWE publishes.

The perfect example of that is that Reigns is the star of the WWE: Clash of the Wilds online slots game, which was released to the Leovegas sister sites and other online casinos recently.

Aside from being the perfect example, that’s also the perfect metaphor; in casino games, WWE sees Reigns as its safest bet, and so it’s put all of its chips on him. Casino references might be made more often with reference AEW than WWE, but they’re perfectly valid here.

Keeping with this casino theme for a moment, there has to be a time when WWE cashes in its chips. Reigns is getting older and has begun to work a part-time schedule. He won’t be around forever.

The company’s problem is that it’s sacrificed so many other stars to make Reigns dominant that there are few viable contenders left.

The time to cash in those chips has probably come already if WWE doesn’t want to give itself a huge problem in the future, but who would or should the company bet on instead?

A paper champion

Some might argue that WWE has temporarily solved this problem by creating an “alternative” world championship for its RAW brand – the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, which was won by Seth Rollins at the recent Night of Champions event in Saudi Arabia.

The most ardent WWE supporters would say Rollins is the champion on RAW, Reigns is the champion on SmackDown, and so Rollins is there to do the heavy lifting while Reigns is on one of his many holidays.

There’s a problem with that idea, and it’s a basic one; Rollins has been declared “world champion” and given a championship belt without beating Reigns. Sure, he won a tournament, but the reigning world champion wasn’t in it.

The company didn’t even take one of Reigns’ existing titles off him and put it up for grabs in the tournament, so now there are technically three versions of the world title floating around, which is a ridiculous state of affairs.

If the company truly thought Rollins was the man, they’d have put him over Reigns. They didn’t, and so the second-string stature of both Seth Rollins and his new championship belt is there for all to see.

The unfinished story

If we were able to poll every WWE fan in the world, we suspect that we’d find that most of them expect “The American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes to “finish the story” and become the next WWE Champion, dethroning Roman Reigns in the process.

The issue is that WWE had the ideal moment to do that at the most recent WrestleMania event, and they chose not to pull the trigger.

The apparent decision to pull Rhodes up just short of his target wasn’t well received by fans at the time, although again, die-hard WWE fans claim that Rhodes is being “made to work” for the title and will win it at next year’s WrestleMania instead.

That’s possible, but it wouldn’t be as big a “moment in time” as if it had happened in 2023. WWE potentially had lightning in a bottle there, but they passed on it.

Since losing to Reigns, Rhodes has become embroiled in a deeply predictable feud with Brock Lesnar in which he’s had a win and a loss and will eventually “overcome the odds” and beat Lesnar in their rubber match.

He was a non-factor in the tournament that led to Rollins becoming a “world champion,” and has technically now been drafted to the wrong brand for him to be challenging Roman Reigns – although brand splits have never counted for much in WWE.

Rhodes was a perennial mid-carder in WWE prior to playing a pivotal role in the creation of AEW, but never became a world champion there either, settling for multiple reigns with the mid-card TNT Championship instead.

The mid-card might be Cody’s level, and if he was ever going to break out of it, it would have been at WrestleMania 39.

The right-hand man

The most dramatic challenger for Roman Reigns, and the one who’d make the most sense as his ultimate conqueror in a storyline sense, is Jey Uso. It was Jey Uso who became Roman’s “right-hand man” when The Bloodline began more than two years ago. It was Jey who was at the forefront of the recent angle between The Bloodline, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens.

We know that Jey has been conflicted over his loyalties to Roman before, which is why it was all the more surprising when Jimmy Uso blasted Roman Reigns with a superkick at Night of Champions. Jimmy was acting out of love for his brother, but Jey is still the more prominent of the two Usos.

The best pay-off for this record-breaking Roman Reigns championship reign would be for Jey Uso, the man Roman Reigns essentially used as a slave and an errand boy, to rise up and depose him.

It would tick every box in terms of classic, old-school storytelling, and it would be a fitting end of the narrative. Does that mean WWE will do it? Almost certainly not. Jey Uso has never really been a singles star and is nowhere near a match for Roman Reigns when it comes to size. We’d love to see it happen, but we think it’s unlikely.

Who does that leave? Almost nobody. Sami Zayn should have been given at least one of the titles while he was hot a few months ago, but WWE passed on the chance.

Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns has been done to death, and nobody wants to see it again. Bobby Lashley is older than Roman is. Drew McIntyre has already been fed to Roman multiple times.

Short of hot-shotting someone from NXT – not that we can think of a viable candidate in developmental at the moment – this never-ending reign might go on forever.

SEE ALSO: How & Where To Watch ‘Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse’ Online Free

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