This all feels like deja vu. As we approach this year’s SummerSlam in almost one week’s time, it feels strangely the same as it did four months ago as we were gearing up for WrestleMania. The main event features Brock Lesnar defending the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns, and everyone just KNOWS that Reigns is coming out with the title. Brock is moving on soon to train for a UFC fight, he has been consistently buried on television for his lack of appearances and passion as champion, and Reigns is the golden boy of the company. It’s so obvious that the Roman Empire will soon be in full effect. Right?
I mean, at this point, Roman Reigns HAS to win the title. Right?
Well, we can look no further than WrestleMania to put some doubt in that scenario. Brock was rumored even at that time to be moving on to the UFC, the Lesnar/Reigns banter was similar in tone as it is now, and everyone, from the crowd in the Superdome to everyone watching on the WWE Network, KNEW Reigns was obviously gonna win the title. And what happened? Brock retained and swerved us all! And everyone was left with a feeling of “OK, now what?”
SummerSlam is “what.” Lesnar vs Reigns IV.
And with all the mitigating circumstances, it is now or never for Roman Reigns. Not only in storyline, but in character and career as well.
Why wouldn’t Reigns be the guy to finally take Brock down? He is the obvious choice of the upper brass as the number one babyface on RAW, he is one of if not the biggest merchandise seller, he elicits the biggest reactions from the crowd (pro or con), and his story arc makes sense to have lead us up to this moment. With all the “Roman Hate,” it’s easy to forget that Reigns’ last run as World Champion was in June of 2016, and hasn’t held as singles title of any kind since late January, when he lost the Intercontinental Title after a reign of only 63 days and officially began his pursuit of the Universal Championship that has brought us to this point. All the signs would seem to logically point to Roman finally being crowned Universal Champion and going on a lengthy title run while Lesnar fades into the MMA sunset.
And yet there is still uncertainty. If Roman Reigns is “The Guy,” why has WWE seemed to reluctant to pull the trigger with him? Why DIDN’T he win the title at WrestleMania? What might have changed since then?
And why all the obvious and constant bashing of Lesnar on TV that almost amounts to the WWE begging fans to cheer for Roman? WWE logic usually dictates that when a guy is so blatantly buried on television, he is almost surely going to get the “shock” win at the pay-per-view. Something just seems “off” to me. The result seems too obvious. Could we possibly see another swerve ala WrestleMania? Could Lesnar really beat Reigns AGAIN and walk out of SummerSlam still the Universal Champion?
If the WWE doesn’t pull the trigger on Roman Reigns at SummerSlam, I’m not sure when they would. If they truly view his as the “Big Dog” and have faith in him to be the face of the company, it is now or never. The Era of Lesnar is coming to an end soon, regardless, and the choice has to be made about who will be the next star to take the RAW brand and the Universal Title into the fall and possibly (probably) into next WrestleMania season. If that’s not Reigns right now, when will it ever be? I’m not sure Roman could fully recover from being “the guy who never beat Brock.”
The chase of Lesnar has been so prolonged that I don’t think fans want to see Reigns pursue another heel champion, like Kevin Owens for example. Then there is the possibility that Reigns beats Lesnar only for Braun Strowman to then cash in his Money in the Bank contract (an idea I can get behind). If Braun cashes in his briefcase, MAYBE there is some pop to a Strowman/Reigns feud (again), but will they run a face versus face feud for any length of time? And would they then pull the plug on possibly their next huge attraction (Braun) in favor of Reigns? He’d basically be in the same position he is now with Lesnar. Barring a long-awaited heel turn, maybe even a pairing with Paul Heyman, I don’t know where Reigns would have left to go.
In some ways, the fourth meeting between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns may carry the most intrigue of any previous encounter going into it. Last year’s WrestleMania proved to us that nothing is ever for certain when it comes to booking decisions or what we fans may “know” is going to happen. WWE could pull another swerve here, but for the first time in their feud, I think anything other than a Reigns victory could be the wrong call.