Match Point: WWE Royal Rumble – Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins

Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins Royal Rumble 2022 Match Graphic
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Match Point is an ongoing series at Last Word on Pro Wrestling, where we look at intriguing matchups in indie wrestling and beyond. They may be dream matches, first-time matchups, or hotly anticipated rematches. Today we take a look at two former members of The Shield for a dive into Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins.

Since late 2020, Roman Reigns’ “Tribal Chief” storyline has been the best that World Wrestling Entertainment has to offer in long-term storytelling and character development. Reigns, whose babyface run with the company was largely ill-received by fans, transformed himself into a domineering heel and the nucleus of the Friday Night SmackDown roster, to great critical acclaim. Obsessed with maintaining dominance and retaining the WWE Universal Championship, various threats to Reigns’s regime have emerged over the last year and a half: Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Bryan Danielson, Edge, but Reigns’ true bete noire has been none other than former Universal Champion, and current WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar.

Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins – Royal Rumble 2022

How We Got Here

Lesnar and Reigns first battled for the Universal title at October 2021’s Crown Jewel, with Reigns coming out victorious. As 2021 wound down to a close, and it became ever more clear that Reigns’ “special counsel”, Paul Heyman,  was secretly once again advocating for Lesnar, it seemed that SmackDown’s resident anti-hero, Reigns, and the “Beast Incarnate” were headed for several more collisions on the road to WrestleMania 38. However, then came the inaugural Day One pay per view on January 1, 2022; with Reigns unable to compete due to a COVID-19 diagnosis, Lesnar was slotted into the fatal four-way, turned five-way, for Big E’s WWE championship. Lesnar defeated Big E, Owens, Bobby Lashley, and Seth Rollins, claiming the WWE championship and drastically altering the trajectory of both championship races.

With former WWE champion Lashley set to face Lesnar for the WWE title at January 29’s Royal Rumble, it was decreed by WWE official Adam Pearce that Reigns’ own Rumble opponent would be his former Shield comrade, Seth Rollins.

A Shared Edge

The beauty of the “Tribal Chief” narrative has been its layered complexity. Even apart from their long history, in the Shield and beyond, of comradery and betrayal, the inevitability of Rollins vs Reigns has been one of many threads in the tightly woven Reigns narrative since the road to WrestleMania 37. Transitioning from the “Monday Night Messiah” to “Drip God” personas, an ever more deranged Rollins became obsessed with regaining the Universal Championship. When Reigns’s WM37 contenders fleshed out to be Danielson and Edge instead, a jilted Rollins fixated his ire upon Edge.

The rivalry that ensued between Rollins and Edge blossomed into one of WWE’s most organic and dynamic feuds, yielding some of 2021’s most athletically compelling matches. At September 10’s Madison Square Garden broadcast of SmackDown, at 2021’s SummerSlam, and with a decisive end to the series, a final victory over Rollins for Edge, the two delivered robust and evenly matched bouts that showcased their respective intensity and skill as performers. But the fight itself, was over Rollins feeling cheated of a chance to face Reigns for the Universal title. Reigns’ specter was never far from Rollins, whose presence in the Monday Night Raw WWE championship race never felt organic; now Rollins has found himself presented with the opportunity to face Roman Reigns that obsessed him throughout 2021.

Reigns’ run with the Universal title has been a lengthy one, but so too has been Rollins’ zealous pursuit of it. Although the two former comrades and rivals have given each other a wide berth in recent years, as they both crafted highly conceptual personas, they are now facing their most weighty collision yet. Every step Reigns and Rollins have taken has led them back to each other, and to their inevitable and upcoming clash at 2022’s Royal Rumble.

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can check out an almost unlimited array of WWE content on the WWE Network and Peacock.