If the main event of WrestleMania this year seems familiar, it’s probably because it’s basically the same as last year.
Roman Reigns, despite the WWE’s best wishes, is not popular. He had a small surge in popularity following his second WWE title win the night after TLC, but this was not enough to erase the damage already done by an over-the-top, easy to read push a year prior.
Reigns is a good wrestler; he’s a great powerhouse and can pull off some impressive moves when he needs to. However, the company decided that, after the break-up of The Shield in mid-2014, that Roman was their next top guy and pushed him to the top of the card with lightning speed. In less than a year, he went from a third of a stable to challenging for the world title in the main event of WrestleMania opposite the company's marquee name - Brock Lesnar.
Reigns missed a couple of months towards the end of 2014 with a hernia, so the storyline was already in trouble, but this didn’t stop WWE from continuing their push and booking Reigns to win the Royal Rumble just over a month after his return.
Reigns won the match but was booed mercilessly out of the arena; even an appearance from The Rock couldn’t stop the crowd from turning on Roman as their favourite, Daniel Bryan, had been eliminated early on in the match. Reigns got booed all the way to WrestleMania despite being the 'face' in his rivalry with Lesnar.
He would fail to capture the championship after Seth Rollins cashed in Money In The Bank and the fans couldn’t have been more pleased; the last thing anybody wanted was for Roman to win the title that night and the ever-popular Rollins going over, in spectacular style at that, was a great way to end WrestleMania 31.
So, with the Money In the Bank option out of the way, what the hell are they going to do this year?
Reigns has once again been pushed to the moon by the company despite the obvious signs; him being eliminated from the Royal Rumble, ergo losing his WWE World Heavyweight Championship, got the biggest cheer of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view – and this was the night that AJ Styles debuted.
In recent weeks, the talk was all about one man and it wasn’t Roman Reigns. Dean Ambrose has been over like nobody’s business these past few weeks and since winning the intercontinental Championship at TLC, everyone thought the WWE were going to swerve us by putting Dean in the main event of Wrestlemania instead of Roman. But no.
Instead, the WWE proves that they are once again out of touch with what the fans want and put Roman in the main event two years running; something only a handful of guys have ever done.
Ambrose not being in the main event is heart-breaking for the hardcore fans – hopefully, he can steal the show with his no DQ match against Lesnar – especially after he took the fall in the Triple Threat at Fastlane. If the WWE needed further proof that the fans don’t like Roman, this week on Raw, Roman, supposedly the big, popular babyface, got beaten to a bloody pulp (literally) by Triple H, the supposed heel. However, when Triple H played to the crowd, hoping to get booed, he got a huge cheer, with fans begging him to Pedigree Roman “one more time”.
If the WWE end this year’s WrestleMania with Roman winning the title the fans will not like it one bit. They managed to save themselves last year, but this year they cannot pull the same trick twice.
Perhaps the WWE are planning to put Hunter and Roman on before the main event, but if the world title match can’t be the main event of WrestleMania, then you’ve probably booked your show wrong one way or the other.
From a storyline perspective, yes, this match makes sense; Roman takes out his boss, wins the title, his boss returns and takes the title away, Roman fights to get the belt back, it’s an age old formula (eerily reminiscent of Steve Austin). However, a story like that can only work when the face chasing the title is more popular than the heel holding it, and that just isn’t the case here.
Roman is good, don’t get me wrong, but he’s not as good as the WWE would have us believe. The fans are sick of his smug attitude, bad promo skills and having him go over the likes of genuine favourites like the now- retired Bryan and Ambrose.
Maybe the WWE have something up their sleeve, but for now, if they don’t stop, listen and take in what the fans are saying, then they are destined to ruin the main of the biggest show of the year.
And you can believe that.