So by now, we’ve all seen and/or heard about the ‘controversial’ end to the Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns cage match at the WWE Greatest Royal Rumble. I have not watched it, but I’ve seen the replay and clips, and heard the shouts of outrage from Reigns’ fans and detractors alike. It’s as clear as crystal that Reigns should’ve won the match according to the age old rules of a cage match: Victory either by pinfall or escaping the cage either over the top of the cage or through the door and BOTH FEET MUST TOUCH THE FLOOR! That has been the rule for cage matches for years, yet Lesnar was declared the victor, even though anyone could see that Lesnar’s feet NEVER hit the floor until AFTER he was declared the winner, while Roman’s feet were both on the floor before the bell was called, so Roman is the rightful Universal Champion, not Brock Lesnar, according to WWE’s own rules.
Logically, I can sort of see what Vince is doing: A controversial finish protects both guys and leaves the door open for the feud to continue for the foreseeable future. It generates sympathy for Reigns because even casual fans know the rules of a cage match and it’s clear that WWE broke the rules by giving the victory to Brock. Rumor has it that, much like WrestleMania, Vince worked not only the paying fans, both in Saudi Arabia and outside of the Kingdom, but the people backstage too, even to the point of preparing things to make it look like Reigns was going to win.
Here’s the problem with this whole situation: It makes WWE look incompetent and it makes Vince look like his word couldn’t be trusted, and not only are they making fans think that, they run the risk of the boys in the locker room thinking it too. It’s one think to work the fans, hell they make billions off of it, but it’s another to work the people who work for you. If it looks too much like the top guy in the company can’t trust the boss or bosses to keep their word and not jerk the rug out from under them at the last minute, then what are the underneath guys supposed to think?
I know that what’s happened was known only by those who needed to know, but this is not a good look for WWE and Vince. What it does NOT mean is that WWE is giving up on the ‘Reigns Experiment’ or grooming someone else to take his spot. This mess will probably go on through the summer so Lesnar can beat Punk’s record and probably culminate at SummerSlam, though rumor is that Vince and Dana White are working together and Brock is going to walk back into UFC as WWE Universal Champion, because why not make this whole thing even more of a farce?
Whatever Vince is planning for this feud, I don’t know if it’s going to be enough to wash the taste of these matches out of anyone’s mouth. Vince needs to be careful to ensure that in building to whatever he’s building to, he doesn’t chase off fans by making it appear that a push of a favorite can be ruined for no really understandable reason.