So, over the past several weeks, the big story on SmackDown has been “Who in the world is after Roman Reigns?”
The Big Dog narrowly avoided two attempts on his life/career. It looked like we had prime suspects in the form of Erik Rowan and Daniel Bryan, at least, according to Buddy Murphy. However, there is no real evidence pointing to anyone, so let’s break this down.
What We Know
Okay, we know someone pushed some scaffolding onto Roman Reigns on the July 30th edition of SmackDown, right before he was going to issue a challenge for SummerSlam. Reigns escaped with no injuries, but he was very shook up.
On the August 5th edition of Monday Night RAW, Reigns narrowly escaped being run down by a car during a confrontation with Samoa Joe. Reigns suffered a sore shoulder, but was otherwise fine.
At the end of the August 6th SmackDown, Reigns confronted Buddy Murphy, who claimed to have seen the culprit and after a little…persuading, Murphy claimed it was Erick Rowan.
At SummerSlam, Erick Rowan ATTACKED Buddy Murphy during Murphy’s match with Apollo Crews.
On the August 13th edition of SmackDown, Murphy admitted to lying about Rowan being the person who attacked Reigns after getting the snot beat out of him by Erick Rowan. On that same edition, Reigns confronted Bryan and Rowan and Bryan demanded an apology from Reigns and claimed to have solved the mystery.
Outside of Murphy’s unreliable witness statement, we have no ACTUAL evidence that points to anyone. The video footage we have of the backstage incident seems to be from a GoPro on the scaffolding, very convenient, and all we saw was the attacker’s arm. Now, some intrepid fans with better eyesight and more time than I do, did some serious looking at the video footage and spotted Murphy lurking around in the aftermath, but it still doesn’t say anything of hard evidence.
The footage of the car incident didn’t really show anyone behind the wheel and everyone was, rightfully, focused on Reigns and not on spotting the driver.
Why would anyone seemingly want to hurt or kill Roman Reigns? Well, Roman, with or without the title, is the top guy. He is the big dog in the SmackDown yard, so he’s naturally going to be the one to gun for by anyone wanting to make a statement.
Reigns has made a lot of enemies in his run, and a lot of them are still on the main roster. However, that doesn’t mean any or all of them want Reigns out of the picture permanently.
Also, despite appearance, I don’t honestly believe the culprit wants to harm Reigns. The scaffold wasn’t solid and the boxes fell off before it, which saved Reigns from being really hurt and he had time to move to avoid serious injury. In the car incident, if the person was actually trying to hurt Reigns, they did a pretty bad job of it. Reigns was able to jump back into the car because the driver door was still open and the car hit the driver’s side passenger door/trunk area. That’s pretty bad aim if you’re trying to hit someone in the driver door of a parked car.
I think whoever is behind this is trying to scare Reigns, not hurt him. Scare him enough to make him paranoid and jumpy, but hurting him or taking him out permanently really accomplishes nothing.
What kind of person would do this? Well, it’s someone who wants attention, specifically Reigns’ attention because Reigns is the ruler of the yard. This is someone who is feeling overlooked and underappreciated by WWE. This is also someone who has a big ego and a serious sense of entitlement to target WWE’s top guy. Which brings us to…
Obviously some suspects have been named, but only one of them has seemingly been eliminated, so let’s look at them.
Erick Rowan and Daniel Bryan
These are the prime suspects in this. Erick Rowan was identified by Buddy Murphy as the man who pushed the scaffolding onto Reigns and Reigns seems to have believed him.
Why: Since Rowan has been a professional lackey for most of his career, it stands to reason he didn’t do this under his own initiative, which is why Bryan is included in this, since he’s the leader of the Greenjerks for reasons I’ll go into in the next entry.
Why Not: Rowan is pretty hard to miss, SOMEONE would’ve noticed him lurking around.
Yeah, I already had him with Rowan, but it’s possible Bryan’s doing this solo or with a secret partner. Bryan’s got a big ego and believes that he is sinless, which makes him a cross between a Bond villain and Charles Manson.
Why: For someone like Daniel Bryan, Reigns being on top would rankle greatly. Also, he could be doing it, or capitalizing on someone else’s work to bind Rowan to him. Bryan was very vocal about Rowan not being the culprit and seemed to take great pains to make it look like he was trying to clear Rowan’s good name, something I’m sure Rowan appreciated.
Why Not: The problem is Bryan’s ego. Bryan’s enough of a narcissist to not want to see someone else, even his own disciple, get the credit for his work and he would find it very hard to keep his mouth shut.
Yeah, I’m serious. Murphy was the one who pointed the finger at Rowan, then recanted, both times after getting the snot beat out of him. Murphy is the only person who claimed to have seen what happened and any detective can tell you that eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable.
Why: Well, since his call up to SmackDown in April, Murphy has yet to be used in any capacity, except maybe as a lumberjack or breaking up a brawl. That would be a tough pill to swallow for someone who was a big fish on 205 Live and a former champion. Going after the biggest dog in the yard would be for him to get the attention he feels he should be getting.
Why Not: The problem with Murphy being the culprit, in terms of storylines, is that he’s not important enough to be put to Reigns’ level, though the match they had on August 13th’s SmackDown should open some eyes to how good Murphy is.
McIntyre was last seen beating Cedric Alexander on August 12th’s RAW, but he and Reigns have had issues with each other for over a year, with Reigns beating McIntyre at WrestleMania and several times after that, culminating in Reigns and the Undertaker beating McIntyre and Shane McMahon at Extreme Rules.
Why: It’s no secret that McIntyre feels he should be higher up on the card than he is and after the bruising defeat at Extreme Rules, he could be trying, again, to make himself the top dog at Reigns’ expense.
Why Not: Like Rowan, McIntyre is extremely hard to miss and since he’s on RAW, someone would’ve noticed him lurking around on SmackDown.
The Fiend made his debut at SummerSlam, but Bray Wyatt and Reigns had a feud back in 2015 with Wyatt targeting Reigns’ family at first, then anyone in the wrestling world Reigns was close to. Reigns finally beat Wyatt in a brutal Hell in a Cell Match and the feud seemed done.
Why: Does Wyatt need a reason to target someone? I’m not sure why he targeted Roman in 2015.
Why Not: Since the wild card rule is slowly being fazed out, there’s no reason for it to be Wyatt since he’s on RAW for now. Plus, there’s no motive for him to target Reigns.
Reigns and Joe have been rivals since they met and have put on some fantastic matches during that rivalry. Joe hasn’t been used very much since his debut and only recently won his first title on the main roster: The United States Championship.
Why: It’s no secret that Joe and Reigns don’t get along and with Joe being relegated to the mid-card, it wouldn’t be surprising for him to see a path back to the top in attacking Reigns. Also, Joe seemed to intent on declaring himself innocent despite no one accusing him of anything but having a bad haircut. He was also with Reigns when Reigns was nearly run down.
Why Not: Samoa Joe is a pretty straight-forward guy, heel or not. If he’s got a problem with you, or wants a fight, he doesn’t tend to mess around, he comes right at you. I can’t see him doing all this sneaking around just to get to Reigns.
The McMahon Family
Reigns’ issues with the McMahons go back several years and have had several eruptions, most recently at Extreme Rules. The feud between Reigns and Triple H and Reigns and Shane McMahon have actually culminated in physical confrontations.
Why: Reigns isn’t one to tow anyone’s line if he doesn’t agree with it and he’s repeatedly refused to be a corporate champion. He has also not hesitated to lay out any McMahon, including Stephanie, if sufficiently provoked. Also, the WWE botched the investigation of the first incident, laying the blame on a forklift operator, who was later revealed to have not been at work that day, and Triple H was seen helping Reigns out of the car.
Why Not: The McMahons have pulled off some successful ‘Whodunits’ in their time, including the Higher Power of 1999 and ‘Who Ran Down Stone Cold Steve Austin’. However, this seems a little too risky, even for them, there were too many variables that could’ve lead to serious injuries for Reigns.
These are guys who have been brought up as possible suspects but ones I don’t buy from the start.
DO NOT KILL ME! Hear me out! No, I do not think Reigns is behind these attacks on himself, but I have a feeling that it’s going to come up sooner or later, so let’s put it out there.
Why: For the attention. Reigns’ triumphant return from cancer treatment was quickly overshadowed by the news that Shield brother, and long-time best friend, Dean Ambrose, had not signed a new deal with WWE and would be leaving at the end of April of 2019, necessitating a Shield reunion and farewell match. After Ambrose’s departure, Reigns found himself having to try and get Drew McIntyre over and carrying the Extreme Rules match to cover for Undertaker AND Shane McMahon. After all that, he hasn’t even been considered for a title shot. The closest he came was the Battle Royal to determine who would face Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam and Reigns was eliminated by Seth Rollins. It would be enough to make anyone feel unappreciated.
Why Not: Reigns is a very straightforward man and I find it highly unlikely that he would put his safety and ability to support his family in jeopardy just for attention. Also, he doesn’t need the attention, he is the top guy on the roster, and he knows it.
Yeah, seriously. Rollins and Reigns have spent as much time being rivals as they have being BFFS and Shield brothers. They were supposed to have a feud at the end of 2015, but Rollins blew out his knee and missed a lot of time in recovery. They had a brief rivalry on Rollins’ return in 2016, but Reigns’ suspension for a Wellness violation, and subsequent detention in the mid-card, and their reunion, kept that from going too far.
Why: Well, Roman’s the Guy, which is what Seth wants to be and feels he should be. Seth has the Universal Championship, but he never beat Reigns for it, which is probably something that’s never far from his mind. Rollins did beat Reigns in 2016, but then lost the belt to Mr. Money in the Bank, Dean Ambrose, so he didn’t get a chance to crow about his triumph. Rollins has also shown a perfect willingness to turn on Reigns if the price was right or if there was a goal they both wanted.
Why Not: Rollins might want to be THE Man in WWE, or at least, THE Male Man, since Becky Lynch is THE Man, but I don’t see him trying to take Reigns out permanently. Reigns and Rollins are on different shows. Odds are good that, once SmackDown moves to FOX, and the wildcard rule is finished, they’ll only interact at Pay Per Views. That’s not enough reason to try and kill, or look like you’re trying to kill your friend. Rollins has enough people on RAW gunning for him without adding ‘Pissed off Roman Reigns’ to the list.
So, if you’re wondering who I think is behind this, the answer is either Buddy Murphy, or Daniel Bryan on his own, or with a secret partner. Murphy is the one who first accused Rowan of being the culprit, then admitted he lied. He also smirked before giving the initial non-answer that set Reigns off, indicating that he did know but wasn’t going to tell, something he also pulled with Bryan and Rowan.
I initially didn’t really consider Bryan a suspect until I wrote his entry in. Even though I think Daniel Bryan has too much ego to be able to pull off this kind of subterfuge, I wouldn’t put it past him either. The fact that he claimed to know who the real culprit was makes me think some innocent schmuck is going to be blamed while Bryan watches. Why I think that is to destroy Reigns’reputation by having him attack innocent people before revealing that it was him all along.
Honestly, I don’t think who the culprit turns out to be is going to matter in the long run. It’s not going to live up to expectation, but SmackDown has certainly given us a juicy mystery to tune in for every week, which makes the journey a lot more fun.
So, what do you think? Who do you think is the culprit?