What good does it do for fans to keep booing Roman Reigns?
Stone Cold Steve Austin ain’t coming back.
Rowdy Roddy Piper ain’t coming back.
So keep booing Reigns, the new WWE champ, because that’s doing the business a lot of good.
WWE is hurting right now, literally and figuratively. By all accounts, Bryan should still be the champ right now, after his memorable title win two WrestleManias ago.
Bryan’s early retirement is his own doing, from him asking his smallish body (5’8”, 210 pounds) to endure too much on his way to the top of the business.
Bryan, to be fair, doesn’t get that push for the top spot if CM Punk didn’t step away from the game. That one is on WWE, for not taking care of its guys.
The company notoriously makes its guys work five nights a week, 50 weeks a year, and the toll of life constantly on the road eventually does everybody in.
Steve Austin has been gone for years, and fans still clamor for him to return, though we’re long, long since past that happening, because he was cut down in his prime, just pure bad luck, in the form of a botched move by the late Owen Hart.
Bret Hart’s career was also cut short, hastened by a botched move by Bill Goldberg.
Goldberg got out on his own terms, good for him.
This gets us back to Reigns. He was spotlighted for the big push to WrestleMania 31 after Bryan first went on the shelf two springs ago, but had his rise to the top derailed by hernia surgery.
WWE rushed him back in the fall of 2014, and naturally had him set to win the Royal Rumble in January 2015 so that he could main-event WrestleMania.
The problem he had then was that Daniel Bryan was also coming back, and Internet fans decided that Bryan should win the Rumble and get the shot at the belt.
When WWE kept Bryan out of the Rumble, fans lustily booed Reigns as he won, and the booing has continued since.
It’s to a point where most fans have no idea why they’re booing.
Historically, there have been many times when a guy getting a big push has been worthy of the universal disapproval of the folks in the seats.
Goldberg was green as hell when WCW put him over on Hulk Hogan, for example, and never really got past his limitations in workrate and on the mic.
For that matter, and you’re going to hate me for saying this, but Daniel Bryan: a little guy who worked a punch-and-kick style with a few wild-ass dives off and through ropes thrown in for good measure, who didn’t look the part and lacks any charisma on the mic.
The Internet fans adopted him as their own because he was as close to being one of them as anyone who had ever been given a push in recent history.
But he ain’t coming back.
CM Punk is the greatest wrestler of his generation, but he’s off chasing a stupid UFC dream that isn’t going to go well for him or UFC.
I say he ain’t coming back, though you’d like to think that he’s young enough to make one last one, once this UFC nonsense comes to a crashing end.
So you have Roman Reigns as your champ. The roster is building up nicely around Reigns, with former NXT champs Kevin Owners and Sami Zayn getting pushes now, former TNA champ AJ Styles main-eventing Payback with Reigns this weekend in a well-done storyline with his Bullet Club brethren Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson.
Finn Balor and Shinskuke Nakamura aren’t far behind them in line, and if WWE ever figures out that Bray Wyatt is too good to be a jobber, he’s the next Undertaker.
John Cena is coming back on Memorial Day, Seth Rollins is plugging along in rehab, and we can hope that Randy Orton will be back before the apocalypse.
Brock Lesnar and Triple H are rightly relegated to part-time roles, and they work them well, as does ‘Taker.
Somebody needs to carry the ball night in, night out, week in, week out. The strap is right now on Reigns, and likely will be for the next few months, at least until Rollins gets back, and we get a feud before the former members of The Shield for the title.
That one will be fun, but only if the lemmings in the stands can shut the hell up long enough for us to get there.
Honestly, in the here and now, the constant nonsense from the cheap seats is making it hard to want to even watch the shows on TV and want to buy tickets for house shows.
Most of us want to enjoy the time we’re able to commit to wrestling. Those of you who don’t are taking the joy away from the rest of us.
And guess what? You’re not going to get your way in getting the belt off Reigns, because who else is there right this second ready to shoulder the burden?
Argue all you want, but WWE has been building toward Reigns and Rollins being the dudes since their days in NXT, and as much as you might think it’s easy to just put a title on a guy, there’s a bit more to running a billion-dollar business than that.
Reigns is your champ. Boo him if it makes you feel good, but you’re probably going to actually enjoy it more if you accept the direction that things are going, because Reigns is where it’s going.
Column by Chris Graham