Hello folks! I have returned from a week’s holiday rejuvenated and ready to get back into the mix. Today, we’re talking about Roman Reigns’ part-time status as Undisputed WWE Universal Champion, and if his absence has forced other WWE Superstars to step up their game.
Many shook their heads at the news. In a move that many hoped would be encouraging, Roman Reigns defeated Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania to become the undisputed WWE Universal Champion. But then, reports surfaced of Roman Reigns working a part-time schedule after signing a deal similar to Brock Lesnar. This meant he’d be holding the titles hostage, and there were calls for WWE to split them so Raw or SmackDown could have a championship returned.
The point of unifying was to have a fighting champion on both brands. Instead, the main event is reserved at WWE’s biggest shows (like SummerSlam), while everyone else fights over the scraps. Some may think this deal hurts, but here lies the motivation. While top guys like Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar aren’t in the main event of every major show and rarely show up for TV, it leaves an opportunity for other WWE Superstars to shine.
When I last talked about Roman Reigns, it was about highlighting how his dominance limited WWE’s booking. His success was so unrivaled that WWE no longer had any viable contenders to challenge. As Reigns said, he had beaten everyone, and this wasn’t a line he casually threw out to sound cool. The Tribal Chief had nobody left, and that’s when Brock Lesnar returned to give us (hopefully) the last of their encounters at SummerSlam. I pointed out that if done right, Randy Orton or Drew McIntyre could become a threat, but at the time they were damaged goods or too ingrained into what they were currently doing.
While it’s great having a top prize for each brand, I was never a fan of having two world title equivalents. You can’t claim to be #1 if you have someone on the other brand doing the same. It’s counter-productive and all paths lead to a unification… so what’s the point? There aren’t any other than handing out participation awards. I don’t believe that giving someone the WWE Championship will make them a bigger star by default.
Now, if that was the actual top prize in the company? Then sure, it may go some way to achieve that. But if, for example, Big E wins the title while Roman Reigns is Universal Champion, and then he loses to Reigns at Survivor Series… what does that tell you? It tells us that Big E is a secondary champion who might as well be holding the Intercontinental or United States titles because that’s all the championship is worth now.
Speaking of which, while the WWE & Universal titles are being held hostage, guess where the spotlight is? On the Intercontinental and United States Champions. If Roman Reigns were around for every Raw & SmackDown, Bobby Lashley & Gunther wouldn’t have as much of a presence. Not only that, but it gives more spotlight to both Women and the Tag Team Champions. Had Reigns fought Lesnar for the hundredth time at Money In The Bank… sure, Liv Morgan’s moment would’ve been remembered, but would it have been the #1 takeaway from the show? I doubt it.
The next night on Raw, it was more about Liv Morgan, Theory, and Bobby Lashley because Reigns wasn’t there to soak up all the focus. Unifying the tag titles has worked because those matches mean twice as much as they did, and WWE has needed that for a long time. It’s cool to see the IC & US Championships mean something each week. Seeing this takes me back to the 90s when the IC title was held in high regard. Technically, we still have a top champion for each brand, but not in the way many were expecting.
The Intercontinental and United States titles were tertiary for so long that their short-term future could be a major boost. Having a unified tag title means it will be a serious deal if a team beats The Usos. I feel more refreshed while watching Raw & SmackDown because it’s a free for all. You know that every talent is thinking… this is my chance to impress! While Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar aren’t there, it gives everyone a serious opportunity to step up and be the main event.
The motivation leads to higher morale for the rosters, as they pull together to put on the best show they can. It’s on them now, more than ever, because Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, and others won’t be around to bump ratings each week. WWE can make new stars while veterans step in to take credit for helping them up. While it sounds crazy, I believe that having a part-time champion is, at least for now, the best thing WWE could do. It needs time to build somebody up as a viable challenger to Roman Reigns.
When I look at the roster and see how dominant Reigns is, I still can’t put a finger on someone and say “this guy”. Despite his heavy push, I don’t believe Theory is ready yet, but he could if given the right build. Cody Rhodes would have been more believable, but that isn’t happening soon. When you have a talent so far above the rest, it is right to allow them time to back off. Get somebody hot, bring the champion back, and that’s where the money lies.
I can’t remember a situation like this, but it’s mostly WWE’s own doing. Had it done more to highlight other WWE Superstars and make at least one or two equal counterparts to Reigns, then they’d have a selection to pick from. But while Reigns sits on top of his throne looking down at the mere peasants, this is what we have to live with. There is no other time in WWE history where our voice matters more. The company is looking for the next breakout stars. It wants to know who we love/hate, and the louder we are, the better it is for that individual. By cheering Liv Morgan, she becomes a bigger star, just as much as Theory will if we hate him.
Who else has stepped up? Just to name a few WWE Superstars, I’d say the Street Profits, Ezekiel, Asuka, Becky Lynch, Madcap Moss, Sami Zayn, Natalya, and Raquel Rodriguez. Let me know if you think anyone else makes this list.
The point of this article? While the WWE roster steps up in Roman Reigns’ absence, the fans should do the same. If we can’t get behind someone and make them a big enough star, then guess what? Roman Reigns stays on top while we groan that no one’s ready to usurp him. It’s not entirely up to WWE to make new stars, because it’s on the fans to force the agenda.
WWE can push a fresh face all they like, but it won’t work if they don’t get any reaction (silence is deadly). If WWE doesn’t push someone we want, we have to keep telling them this is who we want. Remember Daniel Bryan? It worked once and it could happen again. WWE Superstars are ready to reach the next level and it’s on us to give them a helping hand. While the Tribal Chief is away, this is a better time than any to do that.
I have been reasonably positive in this piece. So, I’d like to know if you believe there are any negatives about this arrangement. Should Roman Reigns be on Raw & SmackDown every week? Does his absence hurt the product? Could WWE lose viewers? Should he be there to help build new stars, even if he doesn’t lose the titles? I’d like to know what you think, so please let me know in the comments. Here’s to the future. Thanks for reading!