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TLC Review: Is WWE finally figuring out how to push Roman Reigns?

roman reignsWWE didn’t do its TLC pay-per-view event any justice with the Raws and Smackdowns that served as the lead-ins.

The main takeaway was: tater tots.

Top babyface Roman Reigns was reduced to the role of 10-year-old in a schoolyard fight, taunting WWE champ Sheamus by trying to get the crowd to agree that the Irish tough guy was smuggling tater tots to their upcoming battle.

Sheamus, predictably, won the main event at TLC, with the aid of League of Nations stablemates Alberto Del Rio and Rusev, but Sheamus atop the ladder with the belt wasn’t the lasting image from the show.

Reigns pummeling WWE Chief Operating Officer Triple H was the take-home.

The Reigns story seemed to be heading into the direction of Daniel Bryan two years ago, with Reigns consistently getting screwed out of the WWE title, even to the point of Reigns winning the belt in the main event at Survivor Series, then dropping it minutes later when Sheamus cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase, mimicking Bryan’s title win and quick loss at SummerSlam in 2013.

After last night’s beatdown of Triple H, the Reigns story seems to be veering into Stone Cold Steve Austin territory, with Reigns about to play the anti-authority figure more than the underdog that Bryan was heading into WrestleMania 30.

And that would be exactly what WWE needs right now. Because the Reigns as Chosen One push wasn’t working, clearly.

WWE fans have made it clear that they don’t like being told who they’re supposed to root for and root against. They made the pip-squeak Bryan their hero two years ago, booing musclebound movie star Batista out of a title run in the process. They love to hate John Cena, unwittingly justifying his continued status as a top star in the process.

And for whatever reason, the fans have not come around on Reigns as the future of the company, despite creative’s best efforts.

And so it is that Triple H was out reprising his role as punching bag last night. If there’s one thing the WWE audience can agree on, it’s that they love Paul Levesque, the guy behind the scenes, who has built up NXT and is the voice of reason in creative, and that they hate Triple H, the on-screen embodiment of Authority, whose main role seems to be to suck the air out of the efforts to build the young stars that Levesque has been cultivating.

Having Reigns attack Triple H will push the Chosen One haters into his camp, as long as creative doesn’t screw things up from here, and of course there’s a very real possibility that creative will screw things up from here, because creative.

If this heads back in the direction of Reigns as underdog, the momentum from TLC will fly off into the ether like these unusually warm East Coast temperatures are no doubt about to do.

Drop the tater tots crap and other sophomoric one-liners, and complete the evolution of Reigns into 2015 Stone Cold.

– Column by Chris Graham

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