The Rebel and the Chief: Could a Reigns and Bryan Feud Be in the Future?

Bryan Reigns
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The November 22, 2020 Survivor Series match between WWE Champion Drew McIntyre and WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns was the definition of ‘synergy’. No title was on the line, and neither was there a long history of acrimonious storyline between the two men. Instead, it was a sweat-soaked, bruise-stamped showcase of two of the WWE’s biggest investments in the pandemic era, this side of the fiber-optic cables at the ThunderDome. As we look past this incredible moment, we take a look at what lies in the future for Roman Reigns and why it should be Daniel Bryan.

When Reigns returned from a health leave slightly prolonged by the advent of COVID-19, he did so in new storyline mode. Gone was the slightly wooden babyface of the Shield era, and with Paul Heyman as “special counsel” the new Reigns was a cagey, power-driven heel. Fresh from spoiling the Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman match and winning the Universal Championship, Reigns strolled into SmackDown imposing his authority. It mostly centered on his cousin Jey Uso, delivering impassioned monologues bristling with conflict about how their legacy and lineage needed him to be the “Head of the Table” and “Tribal Chief” for survival.  The storyline has been compelling.

As for McIntyre, when he stepped onto the RAW ramp to meet Randy Orton and, eventually, win back the WWE Championship, brandishing a claymore sword borrowed from Vince McMahon, the sword was the physical embodiment the company has placed on the knockaround journeyman they once released in 2014. McIntyre built a healthy buzz at other promotions, and since being welcomed back into the fold has been leading the audience-less era. The match with the company’s perennial man of the hour Reigns was a coronation for McIntyre, a respectable showing to solidify his place as the secondary champion.

With McIntyre, and their cross-brand battle in the rearview, what’s next when Reigns comes home to the Blue Brand? A true heel vs. face feud with Daniel Bryan may be in his future. Bryan was viciously battered by Jey Uso, at Roman’s urging, and has made it clear that he lays the blame squarely with Reigns. Chances are he’ll run right through Uso and aim his grievances at the self-appointed Head of the Table, himself. Both athletes’ storylines need this feud.

Bryan’s ‘Yes!’ movement stormed the WWE in 2014, a genuinely grassroots appeal from the underdog’s fans to land him on the WrestleMania card. The groundswell of support for Bryan was a pushback from the fans, themselves, against an era dominated by heavy-hitting, musclebound big name athletes, in favor of the unlikely scrapper and spirited upstart. He parlayed the ‘Yes!’ momentum into an environmental activism bit, and a feud with Roman would be in character with his image as a principled fighter on the side of right. His cause, this time, would be addressing his own wrongs, the savagery of Uso ordered by  Reigns as a show of loyalty.

As for Reigns, with Jey Uso brought to the heel side and the McIntyre match behind him, he needs a worthy adversary. Reigns is the very kind of high-profile, herculean physique powerhouse the original ‘Yes!’ movement rebelled against. His current insistence on his authority and dominance going unquestioned is an establishment for Bryan and his fans to rail against. Storyline is more important than ever in the crowd-free ThunderDome, where the chants and outrage of fans cannot drive the action, and seeing these two characters-the rebel and the chief-face off would be a compelling story for SmackDown.

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