Regardless of how hard the WWE tries, the fans simply aren’t getting behind Roman Reigns as the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. When the fans booed him out of the building after the 2015 Royal Rumble, the WWE called an audible and had Seth Rollins cash in on the main event. The creative team took Reigns away from the spotlight for a while, having him feud with the likes of Bray Wyatt and the Big Show, building up credibility while steering clear of the championship picture. The fans still complained about how strongly he was being booked, but his positioning on the card appeased them.
Then Seth Rollins’ injury happened, and with John Cena and Randy Orton shelved by injuries, it became apparent that Roman Reigns would win the vacated championship. The WWE had a tournament, and eventually Reigns pinned tag team partner Dean Ambrose to win his first world championship. The fans booed, but they didn’t have to boo for long as five minutes and fifteen seconds later, Sheamus cashed his money in the bank briefcase to become champion.
Fortunately for Reigns, Sheamus dropped the ball. Ratings were the lowest they had been in 20 years, and he proved to be too boring to draw fans. At this point, the WWE decided to have a spontaneous championship match, finally giving Reigns the championship for good in Philadelphia. And believe it or not, the fans were behind him. Whether it was because they were sick of Sheamus as champion or they were just excited to see a title change happen on raw, the same crowd that booed him a year earlier applauded him.
The WWE could have left it at that. They could’ve kept the title with Roman Reigns and had him wrestle Triple H as planned, but they didn’t. Instead, they made the Royal Rumble match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. This was designed to create more heat between Triple H and Roman Reigns, and make the payoff at WrestleMania even better.
However, they booked themselves into a pickle and it backfired. The Royal Rumble match was booked as one versus all since Roman Reigns would enter at number one and have to outlast 29 other men to retain his WWE title, but the WWE either didn’t believe Reigns was physically capable of being in the match that long or that his performance lacked the proper depth to entertain the fans the whole time. So instead of just having Reigns come in later or get eliminated early, they booked the League of Nations to interfere, drag Reigns under the bottom rope, and send him to the back for most of the match, only to have him return towards the end.
This is simply insulting. In 2016, the WWE universe knows better. They know Reigns wasn’t really hurt, and they know why he was removed for most of the match. Even if they didn’t, why would the League of Nations pull him under the rope and attack him when they could push him over the top rope and eliminate him altogether? It was silly, and when Dean Ambrose, who was the one who lasted half an hour without leaving the match, was eliminated by Triple H in the final two, the resentment came crawling back.
Triple H is 46 years old, and in between his real job as the COO of the company, and fitness, he’s in no shape to handle all of the responsibilities of a champion for more than a couple of months. The WWE universe knew it was only a matter of time until the match was made between Triple H and Roman Reigns for the championship at WrestleMania.
Ever since Reigns defeated Ambrose and Brock Lesnar in the main event of FastLane to become the number one contender, the fans have gone back to rejecting him. The fans are tired of Reigns winning every single match, and would rather have the 46 year old COO, who is supposed to be a heel, as champion than Reigns. Part of the reason they have rejected him so viciously is that they’ve rallied behind Dean Ambrose.
The company is aware of this too. In order to preserve the illusion that the fans are behind Roman Reigns, the WWE have gone to great lengths to protect him. Reportedly, WWE has begun starting the show later so that they could mask boos and even funnel in fake cheers. Ridiculously, Reigns was even off of WWE television for the better part of the last month with a fake broken nose so he didn’t have to perform in front of hardcore crowds like the infamous Chicago audience.
As for the fans rallying behind Ambrose, they even gave him a title shot against Triple H at the WWE Network special, RoadBlock. However, with Ambrose vs. Lesnar and Reigns vs. Triple H already advertised for the show, nobody was fooled, and it only got Ambrose more over than he was before as the company refuses to give the Lunatic Fringe his championship.
With Ring of Honor’s “Supercard of Honor” and even WWE developmental’s show, NXT Takeover in town for WrestleMania weekend, their biggest show of the year is in trouble. For the third straight year, the WWE have to call an audible to save the main event of their cash cow. In 2014, underdog Daniel Bryan was thrown into the title match to appease the crowd, and as mentioned before, Seth Rollins cashed in on Reigns and Lesnar last year.
If the WWE want to make sure they sell out WrestleMania 32, and finally break the illegitimate attendance record set at WrestleMania 3, they’ve got to change the main event once again. This is how WWE can save WrestleMania’s main event without compromising their vision.
Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels, both natives of Texas, are already confirmed to be at the show, and it would be so fitting if they were part of the main event. Reality is mirrored by the kayfabe friendship between Triple H and Michaels, and having the Heartbreak Kid accompany the champion to the ring makes sense. Even last year, in his match against Sting, Triple H needed help in the form of a superkick from Michaels to stay in the match, so why not do it again this year.
And as for Stone Cold, the WWE have been trying (and failing) to emulate his push from 1998 with Roman Reigns for months. They’ve been trying desperately to paint him as some kind of everyman’s underdog rallying against the establishment. If Triple H comes down to the ring with Shawn Michaels, then Roman Reigns should come down with Stone Cold. Make it a no DQ match and let the stunners and superkicks ensue. Reigns will still walk away as champion, and the fans may still boo, but the WWE can at least promote HBK and SCSA as part of the event.
Of course, there’s an obvious alternative to Stone Cold Steve Austin. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is already being advertised as part of the show, and as far as WWE is concerned, he and Reigns are “related.” Last year, The Rock and Triple H teased a future rematch not only during WrestleMania 31, but also the 15th anniversary of SmackDown. The WWE could even have Stone Cold be the special guest referee or something. Roman Reigns with the Rock vs. Triple H with Shawn Michaels featuring special guest referee Stone Cold? It almost sells itself.
As early as a month ago, the rumors of former WWE Champion Seth Rollins rolling around in a ring again have been running rampant. While the WWE will likely wait until Rollins is at full health to bring him back to WWE television, a run-in during the main event wouldn’t require much and would drive the fans insane. It’s true that the WWE can’t exactly advertise Rollins as part of the event, because that would ruin the surprise, but the show will probably sell out anyway, and nobody will remember the bad parts if the WWE pulls out all the tricks. The creative team could set up anything by having Rollins interrupt. Ultimately, the goal is to book a SummerSlam match between Triple H and Seth Rollins, and there are two ways to set this up.
The obvious answer is to have Rollins run in and attack Triple H. Rollins could later justify it by saying the Authority took his title far too quickly, and while he sat at home and waited, he felt left out. It’s easy to turn Rollins face as he was over with the crowd, even as a cowardly heel. Rollins could run in, cost Triple H the title, and allow Reigns to win. It’s an exciting and unexpected finish that lets Reigns become champion without being an unbeatable force.
The other answer is to have Rollins return as a heel and cost Reigns the title. This way keeps Rollins the way he was before without handing the belt over to Reigns. Roman Reigns can beat Triple H for the title at Extreme Rules or even on Raw without sending fans home from WrestleMania disappointed if that’s what the WWE wanted to do, but that isn’t what they should do. Have Rollins return as a heel and cost Reigns the title, and then have him ask for his title back. Triple H will get greedy and keep coming up with excuses until Rollins finally gets frustrated and costs Triple H the title on Raw or a pay per view. This turns Rollins face as well as making the title change more digestible.
An Ambrose Heel Turn
Ever since it became apparent that A. Roman Reigns was the golden boy of the company and B. Dean Ambrose was going to remain his sidekick, the fans have been clamoring for a Dean Ambrose heel turn. Ambrose’s brawling style paired with his exceptionable talent with a microphone would make him a great heel, and the WWE have decided to pass up on many great opportunities for him to turn on his former Shieldmate. After their WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Survivor Series, many believed Ambrose would turn on Reigns, injuring him and making him susceptible for Sheamus to cash in, but he didn’t. Heading into WrestleMania season, it seemed obvious that Ambrose would turn heel again, somehow screwing Roman Reigns in the triple threat number one contenders match with Brock Lesnar, but instead he ended up being pinned clean and disappearing.
Fans have been clamoring for an Ambrose heel turn or a Shield reunion, and with all three wrestlers taking up the main event, the odds of all three being either heels or babyfaces together again soon is unlikely. So one thing the WWE could do to shake up the main event is having Dean Ambrose interrupt the match, potentially costing Reigns the title. This would make Cowboy’s stadium explode, and please all members of the WWE Universe. However, this is unlikely as Ambrose will most likely take the beating of a lifetime in a loss to Lesnar earlier in the night.
As Ring of Honor gains traction with mainstream attention from media outlets like Forbes and the Rolling Stone magazine, the seemingly unbreakable stranglehold the WWE holds over the wrestling world may be less strong than believed. While it’s unlikely that Ring of Honor or TNA or even New Japan Pro Wrestling will be able to challenge WWE any time soon, a disappointing WrestleMania may be enough to encourage fans to look elsewhere. It seems unlikely, but nobody took WCW seriously back in the 90’s until the WWE (WWF at the time) got complacent.