On Monday's Raw, Roman Reigns took yet another confusing step in his journey since the Royal Rumble.
Raw started off with Roman Reigns cutting a promo about The Authority not wanting him at WrestleMania, and that he would go through everyone he had to in order to secure that spot and win the title. Daniel Bryan came out, both to thank Reigns for helping last week and also to make it clear that he's the better wrestler and that he would win at Fastlane.
This set the stage for the rest of the show, where the two were paired together in not one, but two matches.
The first match was against Big Show and Kane. When Reigns and Bryan got the advantage, Big Show and Kane got themselves disqualified, setting up a post-match brawl. In the brawl, Bryan tried to hit Kane with a running dropkick, but hit Reigns instead. Reigns shoved Bryan, and as they stared each other down, Triple H made yet another match with these two, against Kane and Show again, but also Seth Rollins as well as J&J Security.
That match went as many would expect, with The Authority using the numbers advantage to wear down both members, but largely focusing on Bryan as the face-in-peril. When things started to get out of control, Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan and Ryback (who had been attacked earlier by the Authority while he was in a match with Seth Rollins) came out to help Bryan and Reigns (why this didn't draw a DQ, I'm not sure), leaving just Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury in to face Bryan and Reigns. Bryan hit them with kicks, and was setting up for the running knee, when Reigns tagged himself in and speared Mercury for the win.
Nothing shocking to this point, but here's where things got weird. Bryan got in Reigns' face, upset that Reigns tagged himself in. Bryan shoved Reigns, who responded by spearing Bryan, and leaving him lying. Fans were mixed, though there were far more boos than cheers to that action, and the show ended with Reigns standing over Bryan.
Look, I get it to an extent. Everyone criticized goofy Roman Reigns, so they had to change that aspect. However, if they're trying to turn Reigns into an antihero, a la "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, they missed a vital step in that. If Austin started to attack the biggest faces in the company before he was fully entrenched as a huge face himself, he would've been booed, and thus never been given a position where he could implement his DTA approach.
Reigns right now is in crisis. There's a question about how over he is. Instead of giving fans more reasons to cheer him, by being a no-nonsense face that takes out all the heels, the WWE is simply confusing the fans.
If the plan is to keep Reigns as a face, this just is the complete wrong way to go about it. You can't have Reigns attacking the most popular guy in the company while still trying to establish him as a major face, even if, in kayfabe, his motives are justified. Now, if they're planning on turning Reigns heel, then yes, their decisions make sense.
However, between putting him into a match with Bryan, and then being a complete jerk towards him for two weeks straight, they aren't giving fans any reason to cheer for him, if that is still their plans.
Hopefully the WWE does have a plan in place. If they don't, Roman Reigns could end up as a cautionary tale about rushed pushes and indecisiveness hurting a wrestler.
The Rest of Raw:
** Triple H demanded a response from Sting on whether he'd show up at Fastlane. The lights went off, and while a crow cawed, the spotlight briefly turned on around the arena, showing "Sting" in various parts of the crowd. A creepy video aired, with Triple H talking, as his face gradually took on the Sting facepaint. The spotlight came on one more time in the ring, as someone who looked like Sting (though clearly wasn't Sting) stood behind Triple H, and bumped him. Triple H sold as if he was terrified. The lights went off one more time and the screen bore a simple message, "I accept."
The WWE is doing a great job of building the anticipation for this confrontation, and match. Even those who aren't as enthused about the prospects of the match are looking forward to Sting's next appearance, and the WWE isn't just relying on Sting's name to sell it, they're actually building the feud. So kudos for that, and the confrontation at Fastlane should be interesting.
** Rusev and Lana presented a "tribute" for John Cena. They started by talking about what a great fighting champion he's been and even played a video to show that. The video started by showing many of his accomplishments, but then quickly transitioned to showing the biggest bumps he's taken in his career, and the injuries he's had.
Both Lana and Rusev talked about the man Cena was in the past was great, but that he was past that time, and he was vulnerable to someone like Rusev. Cena came out, with a swollen eye. He said that while he may be an old man, he could still beat Rusev. He also stressed that while he might take big bumps, and get hurt, he would keep fighting, which was an interesting line considering that they haven't even fought yet.
It was a line that you'd expect to come after he lost. So, maybe they're just setting it up early that Rusev will win, and Cena will have to come back from that loss. After the two exchanged words, they fought on the ramp. They both tackled each other, and when Cena got the advantage, Rusev poked Cena in that injured eye and sent him into the set before officials came out to intervene.
** Bray Wyatt and Dolph Ziggler had another excellent match, where Bray again went over. One thing that I don't think can be praised enough is Wyatt's clothesline. It's so compact, but looks so devastating. That's a rare feat. Later in the night, Bray once again cut a promo that seems to be directed at The Undertaker.
** The New Day beat Gold and Stardust after Stardust walked out on the match. After the match, Goldust wanted a brother to brother talk, but was rebuffed when he called Stardust Cody again. Stardust said that Cody was dead, and never to call him that.
** Tyson Kidd and Cesaro beat The Usos. Cole insinuated that because of that win, Kidd and Cesaro would get a shot at the titles.
** Dean Ambrose won a surprisingly competitive match with Curtis Axel. He once again called out Barrett, who showed up on the screen, saying that Ambrose wouldn't get a title shot.
** Paige beat Brie Bella, as Nikki looked on from ringside.
** Sin Cara beat Damien Mizdow (Sandow?) as Miz continued to berate Sandow. Miz had a microphone during that match, and alternated insulting Sandow and the audience. As Sandow tried doing Miz's moves, Miz stopped him every time, finally distracting him enough for Sin Cara to win by rollup.
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