Roman Reigns' quick ascension up the WWE ladder as the promotion's next big thing has directly paralleled Brock Lesnar's unprecedented, historic run to the WWE title. So it is only right the two meet in the ring with the strap hanging in the balance, right?
The simple fact of the matter is, Reigns' in-ring work is not up to par when it comes to the main event scene, which means it does not sniff WrestleMania's main event requirements.
Which is where we are with Reigns at the moment, as early rumblings suggest WWE Creative is currently considering Reigns or The Rock as Lesnar's WrestleMania 31 opponent, per F4WOnline (via Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc).
Let's pump the brakes there a tad. There is no justification for mentioning those two in the same breath at the moment. Reigns is in the midst of a huge push, yes, but him being over enough to headline a WrestleMania and draw fans in droves in comparison to The Rock is laughable.
In a way, this entire situation is a bit of poetic justice. WWE has spent years riding the John Cena train and failing to develop new Superstars. That has changed in a big way as of late, but a CM Punk walkout and a Daniel Bryan injury have left the company in a rut at the top.
Let's take a look at a Cena-Reigns comparison for a moment. Reigns is the next Cena in a way, a hero to reel in the younger generation and appeal to casual fans. There is nothing inherently wrong with this; promotions need these guys to survive.
But ponder this—Cena spent years toiling away in the midcard perfecting his craft and developing one of the most memorable characters of all time before exploding onto the main event scene.
What has Reigns done thus far? Split from The Shield, keeping the attire and music while hardly speaking a word? Meanwhile, his former partners, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, have blossomed as singles competitors, and both are flirting with the main event already.
This all came to a head Sunday at SummerSlam, when Ambrose and Rollins garnered rave reviews in a Lumberjack match while Reigns picked up a win over Randy Orton but was noticeably carried throughout the course of the bout by the veteran. A lack of innovation is one thing—fans like to point out that Cena has just five moves—but it is another to rely so much on a veteran in the ring on a grand stage.
Shortly after, Lesnar—who, if fans haven't heard, conquered the immortal Undertaker and The Streak at WrestleMania 30—went out and delivered a hellacious beating on Cena and captured the titles. It was a necessary bit of storytelling to complete the creation of possibly the scariest monster heel of all time, and kudos to Cena for allowing it to happen to his character for the greater good of the company.
What we have now is an unstoppable force—the likes of which the promotion has never had at its disposal—that will someday put over a young talent to a degree that we have never seen.
If Reigns is to be that guy, it cannot be at this year's WrestleMania. Lesnar's momentum needs to percolate. To tarnish something like The Streak and sacrifice Cena himself just to have Lesnar lose so soon seems akin to throwing money in a fire.
With shreds of the Dead Man shining through in each match as an added caveat, Lesnar must continue to win to better reward the man who finally fells him on a major stage. If Reigns encounters Lesnar now, it's a loss, and an ugly one at that.
Or, in some strange fantasy land, it's a win that wastes valuable, historic resources for a premature push that fades quickly. Who is Reigns? What would he even say on the Raw after WrestleMania 31, titles in hand?
For his part, Reigns is tired of the questions about his ability, per IGN.com's Matt Fowler:
For me, I know me. I know who I am. I know where I come from and where I want to go. I know I'm 100% ready.
Everyone else seems to have an opinion, and claim to know, whether I am or I'm not. I would love to see all the people who run their mouths try and do what I do. Because they can't. I'm special and then men that I work with are extremely special. We were built, and I was born, to handle situations the way I do.
In the interim, feed The Rock to Lesnar. Yes, that is a draw that does not need to involve a title and seems like a waste of resources, but the bed has been made. Heck, the company can even attempt to recapture the lightning in the bottle that is Bryan (if healthy) through a Royal Rumble win one year too late, only to have him lose and make the pot sweeter for the man who overcomes Lesnar down the road.
Bryan is more than willing, too, as he told Between the Ropes:
Brock Lesnar is, right now, out of all the WWE superstars currently active, Brock Lesnar is the one that I want. That's the match that I want. I think that match would be something different than the WWE Universe has ever seen. So, yeah, that's the match that I'm gunning for.
This opens up Reigns for more development time at WrestleMania against a veteran who can help him along, such as Triple H or even Batista. Remember, his noteworthy experience so far on the big stage has been matches against The New Age Outlaws and Kane.
None of this is to suggest Reigns does not have what it takes. Quite the contrary, actually, as improvements on the mic and in the ring will allow him to possibly blossom into the top dog in the promotion.
But these things take time, and even pulling out all of the historical stops can't change the fact that Reigns, even to the untrained eye, is still a novice in the ring compared to his veteran counterparts.
In time, Reigns is probably the right guy to take down Lesnar. Barring something drastic in the coming months, though, it simply cannot happen at WrestleMania 31.
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