WrestleMania may still be two and a half months away, but we are getting ready to hit that build-up hard. Which means it’s probably not ideal for WWE to have their star man being caught up in stories of an illegal nature. That’s never going to look good. And whether it turns out Roman has been taking steroids or not, it is awful timing. Because if the worst comes to past, what does WWE do if something happens to Roman?
For the last few years, everything WWE has done has been about building for the moment they’re planning at WrestleMania 34. The moment when Roman Reigns beats Brock Lesnar. We can even take a stab at how it’s going to go down. That Roman will be the man who kicks out of the F5. The move that’s downed every man that’s taken it. From Braun Strowman to AJ Styles. It’s the plan they have been rigidly sticking to. It’s also the only one they have.
Which is an issue, because things in wrestling, they go wrong. And I’m not necessarily talking about Reigns being suspended or getting arrested, I’m also talking about injuries. Look at Paige, one minute she’s back and ready to go and then suddenly reports suggest she can’t wrestle again. It’s horrible, but it’s reality. Now, fingers crossed that doesn’t happen to Reigns (or anyone else for that matter, the less we get of that, the better. Yet, there are no guarantees, and if it did, WWE has nowhere else to go.
The problem with focusing solely on someone for years is that it leaves you no plan B. Who could they push into Roman’s spot? Braun is the obvious answer and is who I imagine they would choose, but he already lost to Brock. It’s a hard story to tell. And underneath Braun? Well, you’ve got Balor who they apparently don’t rate, Joe who isn’t young, Rollins, Ambrose, Cesaro and Sheamus are all caught up in tag action, and Bray Wyatt’s a joke. Are any of them in a position to beat the Beast Incarnate? I don’t think so.
This isn’t just a problem at the top of the card either. Roman is indicative of a broader issue. The women’s division on both brands continues to exist with only one feud involving every wrestler. They don’t have various interweaving narratives, it’s one narrative and it’s shit. While the constant 50-50 nature of the booking in the undercard means that the wrestlers are viewed as different types of mediocre. No-one stands out.
I hate to do the comparing WWE to New Japan thing, but it is a valid comparison in this case If Okada went down tomorrow how many wrestlers could step into his place? On the top-tier, you have Omega and Naito, two men capable of leading the company. Below them, Tanahashi and Suzuki, veterans who could run with that belt for a couple of months. Then below them: Evil, Sanada, Ishii, Goto, Fale, Ibushi and Juice. All wrestlers who with one or two victories could become credible champs. The structure of their roster ensures they don’t just have a Plan B. They have plans all the way up to Z.
There is no reason for WWE not to have these plans either. If you look at the current Raw brand, there are umpteen wrestlers that I would pinpoint as being good enough to at the very least be a transitional champ. Cesaro, Sheamus, Strowman, Ambrose, Balor, both Hardys, Cena, The Miz, Joe and Rollins could all be pushed into that spot if given the right story, which (Cena aside) they never get. They are left to mill around beating each other every week.
Which brings us back to the start and to Roman Reigns. A story that was planned from the beginning. Sure, the fans have rebelled against it, but Roman’s story has been well told. He’s been the top of the mountain once or twice and never quite been good enough. At ‘Mania (although maybe after Naito we shouldn’t b so sure) he’ll prove that now he is. It’s been slowly built over several years, and it should be a crowning moment. WWE better pray that nothing gets in his way before he makes it there. Because without The Big Dog, the yard looks a bit empty.