Vulnerability. For a few years now, WWE has built up Roman Reigns to be an unstoppable force. His impenetrable fortress on the island of relevancy has rarely looked in danger, but at Money In The Bank, a crack formed in its walls. Finally, Roman Reigns appeared frustrated, confused, and beaten. As his cousins, The Usos, refused to stay down for the pinfall, we saw a reaction the Tribal Chief has never shown us – a look of absolute disbelief. His thoughts raced through his head until Solo Sikoa snapped him out of it to get their team back on track. This is a far cry from the Roman Reigns we have come to know since siding with Paul Heyman.
Note: This is an editorial/column/opinion piece. Therefore, it includes opinions, speculation, and interpretations that you may agree or argue with in the comments. It focuses on The Bloodline story and its characters, and not the real-life workings behind the scenes.
Yet, all the seeds for this occurrence were planted months ago. Roman Reigns bringing in Sami Zayn and treating him like family showed that deep down, he wanted to be cared about on a personal level, although his Tribal Chief ego would never allow him to drop his guard. After Sami Zayn reached his limit and turned on The Bloodline, it proved to be the catalyst for Roman Reigns’ paranoia to set in. He could no longer trust those around him, and he projected this by taking it out on The Usos for losing the tag team titles at WrestleMania. Previously, Reigns would have punished them in a brutal, yet passive manner, without emotion. However, still upset with Sami Zayn’s betrayal, his ego made him lash out and use The Usos as a conduit because he couldn’t take it out on anyone else.
The disrespect toward The Usos was unnecessary. A calm and collected Tribal Chief would positively motivate them to reclaim the titles. Instead, he took it upon himself, showing us that his ego had reached a level where he thought simply teaming with Solo Sikoa would fix the problem. He wasn’t willing to give The Usos another chance because failure had become so unacceptable; it took precedence over everything. A part of Roman Reigns wanted to be there for his family, but his Tribal Chief ego would not allow him to appear weak by granting them extra opportunities. The standard he had set for his own success clouded his overall judgment. Paul Heyman subtly tried steering Roman Reigns down the right path to keep The Bloodline together. In spite of that, there’s only so much he can say until he is no longer listened to.
We can attribute much of the Tribal Chief ego to the mindset encouraged by Paul Heyman. He instilled so much confidence in Roman Reigns that he could enter any match without doubt. It was all about titles, but along the way, it became deeply personal, and Paul Heyman isn’t wise enough to serve as a family counselor. All he cares about is success and making tons of money. Keeping the family bonded was never a priority. This is the reason Roman Reigns often used his legacy of intimidation from their childhood to manipulate his cousins into doing the heavy lifting. The Bloodline was never a fun, cooperative family endeavor because it was all about the Tribal Chief. When Sami Zayn showed The Usos they needn’t be manipulated anymore, things gradually unraveled.
And then there’s Solo Sikoa, who is quite the enigma. The difference between him and The Usos is that there’s no intimidation factor. While growing up, he didn’t really know Roman Reigns. To me, it feels like he and Reigns have been using each other for the convenience of garnering success. Sikoa loves his older brothers, but he also has a selfish side. Living in the shadow of Roman Reigns and The Usos for much of his life, this is his way of creating a legacy that may someday equal or surpass them.
One day, he wants to cast his own shadow onto them. It’s painful to be stuck in the middle of a family feud, but unlike the others, he isn’t allowing emotion to hold him back from his goals. He’s siding with whoever will help him prosper, and for now, that means standing with Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman. When they are no longer any use to him, we should expect him to turn on them to go out alone and become his own version of the Tribal Chief.
Meanwhile, Roman Reigns has shown that when things get personal, he can allow his feelings to get the better of him. He has revealed a frailty in the armor that future challengers can poke at until he makes mistakes. And there’s not much Paul Heyman can do about a psychological factor that he’s not emotionally capable of counseling the Tribal Chief over. This was clear on the Money In The Bank kickoff show when Paul Heyman was seen almost in tears because he had “never seen the Tribal Chief like this before.” Yes, he is the wise man, but he cannot fix everything.
While Heyman had conditioned Roman Reigns to be the perfect WWE Universal Champion, outside factors have damaged him, seemingly beyond repair. He is human. Roman Reigns can be beaten and can’t hold the title forever. With every title defense, the pressure rises. The weight of that pressure, the Tribal Chief ego, the abrasive history with his family, and his conditioning will likely lead to his character crumbling. And on that day, fans will rejoice with a new champion but also because they got to experience the playing out of his story over several years. Yes, for some, it has been unbearable. It has been long-winded. But the best stories play out naturally, and WrestleMania 40 feels like a natural end to the tyranny and domination of the Tribal Chief.
The biggest question is, who is ready to step up and put an end to it? The Usos? Solo Sikoa? Cody Rhodes? Sami Zayn? Or a mix of all of them? Like a notorious villain in an epic battle at the end of a movie, will it take all the protagonists working together to save the world? I believe it’s leading that way. And with that said, the Usos beating Roman Reigns has changed the Tribal Chief dynamic for the better. As of this week, we will begin seeing a slow, inevitable downward spiral for the undisputed WWE Universal Champion. In the long term, the loss helps the story, and ironically makes losing the title mean so much more. Thanks for reading!