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Chair Shots: What's next for Roman Reigns?

A little over two weeks ago, it seemed not only likely, but probable that Roman Reigns would be the new WWE Champion and the main event storylines would be revolving around him. Instead, it's Seth Rollins who has the championship and Reigns, at least at the moment, is a bit directionless.

Expect WWE to address that sooner than later, possibly as soon as tonight on Raw.

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To me, it's clear that the long-term direction of the Reigns character is to fight his way back into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture, gain a measure of revenge against Seth Rollins and possibly facing Brock Lesnar in a title rematch where Reigns enters as champion and we get a definitive finish this time.

But WWE first has to do some major rehabilitation on Reigns to get him back in the good graces of the fans.

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The next month of WWE television -- starting with tonight on Raw from Texas, continuing during the European tour next week, and ending at Extreme Rules in Chicago -- will be a good litmus test of how much work the company's creative team and Reigns himself must do.

Many skeptics, judging from the online comments, seemed to come around on Reigns after holding up his end of the storytelling bargain in the main event of WrestleMania last week. He acquitted himself of doubts he was "ready" to be put in that spot, at least for one night.

However, when Reigns was revealed as the final partner for the babyface team in the six-man tag to close the Raw after WrestleMania, he received arguably more boos than he did the night he won the Royal Rumble, the previous pinnacle of the fans' wrath toward the third-generation grappler who they perceived as getting "too much, too soon."

So how do you get those jaded fans back on his side?

While professional wrestling bookers, especially Vince McMahon, don't always subscribe to this theory, there is evidence throughout literature, film and other media that the most surefire way to create a heroic character is to tear them down, then build them back up.

At this point, Reigns hasn't been torn down yet. If anything, from a confidence standpoint, he should still be riding high. He came within an eyelash of being the one to defeat Brock Lesnar clean before Rollins stole it from him.

Enter Bray Wyatt.

Wyatt also ended up on the losing end of his match at WrestleMania, being defeated by the legendary Undertaker, who proved he's "not dead yet" with a victory a year after having his celebrated undefeated streak snapped at, ironically, the hands of Lesnar.

Wyatt's gift of gab and ability to spin the facts into his own twisted truth make him the perfect foil for Reigns. Even though both of these budding superstars came up just short against name-brand challengers at the biggest show of the year, Wyatt can convince Reigns -- and probably the fan base that wants to believe it -- that he's a failure who will never be able to make his family proud or earn the respect of the WWE Universe.

Right now, WWE has an opportunity to takes the boos that Reigns is getting and will likely still receive at Extreme Rules in front of an often hostile Chicago crowd, and make them part of the story. Wyatt needs to bring Reigns down to his level, try to convince him that it's not worth fighting for his family, or the fans. In other words, try to do what many of those fans think WWE creative should embrace, and that's turn Reigns heel.

Heck, have Wyatt go over Reigns at Extreme Rules. It benefits both characters. Wyatt, who has lost high profile feuds with John Cena and now the Undertaker, needs an important victory to build him back up and give him credibility. Reigns, in the eyes of certain fans, needs to be humbled and defeated before they can begin to accept him.

Meanwhile, it buys WWE and Reigns the time to turn the character into one the fans want to see succeed and get behind. That's a little more tricky, for as long as indie-favorites-turned-WWE-Superstars Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose and Cesaro are around, a certain segment of the crowd will be pining for them to be on top. But as long Reigns can continue to improve his promos and in-ring ability, he will win over those on the fence.

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Direction of other characters heading into Extreme Rules

Randy Orton, by virtue of having never received his 1-on-1 championship rematch from last year's WrestleMania and his victory over now-champion Seth Rollins at this year's show, makes him the obvious No. 1 contender with Brock Lesnar "suspended." Orton vs. Rollins should be the main event of Extreme Rules with a stipulation that allows Rollins to slip away with the championship still around his waist and leaves the door open for these two to fight again down the road, without cooling off Orton, who feels like a natural babyface for the first time in a while.

Already announced on Smackdown was a rematch between John Cena and Rusev for the United States Championship, which Cena would presumably win. Again, I think the key to having an Extreme Rules stipulation here is to allow Cena to retain without having Rusev's shoulders pinned to the mat again. A tables match, perhaps? Cena's open challenge each week could quickly lead to something special, possibly a 1-2-3 Kid type moment (or even a John Cena debut moment) that allows someone to burst onto the scene by defeating Cena for the title or just unexpectedly taking him to the limit. (Sami Zayn anyone?)

Dean Ambrose and Luke Harper seem to be creating an issue between them, but it really lacks a storyline other than these are two unhinged individuals who just like beating each other up. Either way, both are good workers and willing to take a beating, so an Extreme Rules match seems natural for both.

Sheamus returned last week on Raw and quickly created an issue between himself, Dolph Ziggler and Intercontinental Champion Daniel Bryan. Meanwhile, Bad News Barrett is still owed a rematch for the IC title. Rumors are flying these individuals will be involved in a Fatal 4-Way at Extreme Rules, but I for one would prefer singles matches that allow Bryan to defeat Barrett but also allow Ziggler and Sheamus to tangle.

Perhaps the most over person in that ill-fated six-man tag to close the Raw after WrestleMania, was Ryback. And since he returned as a babyface last fall, he's certainly recaptured some of the magic he had when he debuted, and peaked, in 2012. He's inserted himself into a feud with the Authority and a short-lived feud with fellow big men Kane and Big Show should at the very least give us a few memorable feats of strength. WWE may also want to strike while the iron is hot again with Ryback and allow him to work with Rollins in a main event match at one of its upcoming B-level PPVs like Payback or Battleground.

AJ Lee's sudden retirement may leave the Divas division in a bit of flux in the short-term, but the company has already started establishing Naomi as a new challenger for champion Nikki Bella. Expect Charlotte to be called up from NXT to the main roster soon enough, however, to present a fresh face to the Divas scene -- and possibly one to build around.

Tag Team Champions Cesaro and Tyson Kidd don't appear to have any obvious challengers right now with half the Usos shelved with an injury, the New Day seemingly beginning a program with the Prime Time Players, and Los Matadores being, well, Los Matadores. The Ascension started showing up on TV again, but seem like they might just be fodder for former NXT rivals the Lucha Dragons.

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