By that I don’t mean that they want to elevate him up to the prestigious status of main eventer. While the promotion needs more big names in general something more important is planned for Reigns. They want to make him their next leading man, in the tradition of Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin and, yes, John Cena.
Reigns is well-suited for the role. He looks, sounds, and talks the part and has so far managed to avoid the calamitous misfortune that other promising stars of the last several years have been subjected to thanks to an unambitious and generally confused creative direction. Someone high in the pecking order realised what they had in Reigns and has ensured he’s kept his shine.
The common belief is that he will be the man to take the WWE championship from Brock Lesnar at next year’s WrestleMania 31. That means that now is a pivotal time for Reigns. If he is to defeat ‘The Beast’ in the main event match of the biggest show of the year, for the company’s top title no less, he needs to be more than just well-suited for the task and fairly popular. At the moment I’m not convinced he’s being adequately prepared. For that matter I’m not convinced his mic skills and wrestling are sufficient, but we can assume he will continue to improve in both areas over time.
|Is Reigns the man who'll conquer the man who conquered The Streak?|
Right now Reigns is treated as just another main event guy. While it’s good that he’s presented as being at the top of the roster it’s a little uninspiring that the same approach that’s applied to every other top face is applied to him. When Reigns appears on a show it should feel like a significant moment. Neither having him wander out to kick off RAW with a promo or sticking him in a random match against Alberto Del Rio on SmackDown make him feel special. If WWE wants him to be their new leading man then an aura needs to be built up around him. Seeing him needs to be an event in and of itself.
It’s true Cena appears in RAW opening segments frequently and wrestles on SmackDown every now and then but Cena is established as the number one boy. They can afford to overexpose him and, more to the point, it’s actually that overexposure that led to much of the ill feeling that currently exists towards him. Basically, by limiting Reigns’ screen time he’s being protected from the split audience Cena treatment.
How Reigns is utilised between now and WrestleMania will in large part determine how successful he is as the top guy. In this regard WWE haven’t made things easy for themselves. There are very few bad guys of significance for Reigns to work with in the next half a year. In fact there are really only two: Randy Orton and Triple H. Seth Rollins is a possibility but as he’s got the Money in the Bank briefcase to cash in once Reigns is the champion, so it makes sense to not have the two interact before Reigns gets the gold.
Programmes with ‘The Game’ and ‘The Viper’ could go to a couple of pay-per-views each without feeling stale. That would still leave enough time free for Reigns to have to work at least one programme against someone not from the main event crew. A rivalry with someone from the Alberto Del Rio range of grapplers is not the most thrilling thought. Better would be something pitting him against fellow rising star Cesaro, although there the downside is that Cesaro has less accolades for Michael Cole to tout than ADR, making it seem like less of an accomplishment when Reigns beats him.
There’s no easy way around any of this. WWE simply doesn’t have enough top names to feed to Reigns. The best they can do is make his feuds and matches with established headliners as close to perfect as possible and make him shine in filler rivalries. Beyond that they need to make the most of every possible opportunity. Have Reigns plough through a Survivor Series team singlehanded (again). Have him enter a dominant Rumble performance (again) and get the victory by last eliminating someone who’s absolutely hated (not again… but a replay of this year’s final two). Have something meaningful for him to do at Elimination Chamber and save his first face-to-face meeting with Brock Lesnar for a RAW main event segment.
The potential is there in Reigns. WWE just have to get their presentation bang on until he’s established and he’s more comfortable in such a high profile position. Based on recent form I don’t like their chances.