Firstly, who’s saying that the main event needs saving? Well, Vince and co are working with a much smaller roster than they were originally planning for – no Rollins, no Cena, no Orton – and the cracks have been showing ever since Seth Rollins vacated the World Heavyweight Title in November. We had the tournament for that, which showcased some strong talent and let some of the company’s best workers shine through healthy competition. But since Sheamus took the title off Roman after five minutes and fifteen seconds, the top of the card has been stagnating between what the crowd want – and what Vince wants.
The problem is Roman Reigns. Now, I know, it’s not going to make me popular on tumblr if I rain all over Roman’s parade, but no matter what you think of him, you can’t deny that he’s the problem. From poor booking to lack of character, Vince’s new favourite toy just isn’t living up to what the company wants him to be, and that’s an issue. Crowds are booing the top babyface in the company, and cheering when he gets busted open by a man who is emphatically meant to be the bad guy in this situation. He was briefly over, for a moment, when he beat the hell out of Triple H and punched Vince McMahon – because hitting pensioners is apparently a thing the good guys do now? – but once they let him talk again on Raw, he ruined it.
I’m not trying to say this is all the fault of Roman – far from it. Vince pushed him too hard right out the gate, and that’s why the Royal Rumble 2015 was an absolute mess. For a while, it seemed like the company had learnt its lesson, and with the title on Seth and his feud with Dean Ambrose being the main event for several pay-per-views in a row, Roman was allowed to fade into the background a little. However, with Seth out of the picture, WWE needed a new storyline, and the one they picked was of a Roman Reigns who apparently desperately wants the title. But whenever he talks, he doesn’t sound like he wants it, that’s the problem. You think of Seth Rollins cradling his title, or the way Kevin Owens snatches his when it’s handed back to him after a match – hell, even think of Dean with the intercontinental championship, and how gleeful he always looked to be holding it, how he defended it at every turn. You don’t have to be a heel to want something, or to think you deserve it, but WWE have decided that showing emotion, or seeming to care when someone insults you, is a heel gimmick.
For weeks we had Roman threatened, his title threatened, his job and the security of that wage packet for his family threatened, but for a man who supposedly is all about his family, he just didn’t seem all that bothered. He laughed off the threats, smirking into them – and that’s why people hated Cena. They didn’t just hate him because he didn’t lose, but because nothing seemed to upset or bother him, he had no genuine reaction to anything, and the WWE seem to be sending Roman in the same direction. It’s like they forgot to give him a character, and now that he’s out on his own, that can’t be hidden anymore – and it just isn’t good enough. When the triple threat match at Fastlane started, Roman was booed just for being announced. That can’t be allowed to continue into the main event.
So, here are three ways I think WWE can save the main event of WrestleMania and not have it booed off with fans asking for their money back.
- Shawn Michaels as guest referee.
This one should be self-explanatory. With Triple H’s self-proclaimed best friend in the ring, it’ll be like Roman vs Sheamus with Vince as referee all over again. HBK can do slow counts, can ignore pins, can make Roman work three times as hard to get the win. It might not make Roman actually over, unless he loses and then beats the tar out of Michaels after the match, causing a rematch to be set for Raw the following night.
I’m not convinced of the effectiveness of this one, but people have said the rumour is Vince in Trips’ corner, The Rock in Roman’s corner, maybe Austin in there somewhere? It does boggle the mind as to how many legends they might have to dig up just to make this match palatable, as if they can wave their shiny toys and distract us from the real issues. Didn’t work at the Rumble in 2015 – chances are, it isn’t going to work now. But it’s a real option they might pick when it comes down to it.
- Dean Ambrose intervenes on Roman’s behalf
This one’s an interesting one, because it sets us up for a Dean vs. Roman feud, which could be a hell of a thing to tide us over until Seth comes back. Obviously no one’s going to cheer Roman over Dean, but no one’s cheering him anyway, so what does it matter? So, whether Dean beats Lesnar or not, what if Trips is winning easily, and Roman’s just a bloody pulp, so Dean limps down, carrying his wounds from the beast, and leaps into the fray, taking out Triple H and getting Roman disqualified? He can spin it as wanting to make sure his brother didn’t get too badly hurt, and it means Triple H keeps the title, while the audience cheer for Ambrose, who they love to see.
Next night on Raw, Dean demands a title shot because, hey, he took down Triple H in the main event of WrestleMania, so he’s pretty sure he can handle him – and besides, he was the only other person left in the Royal Rumble with Triple H, so really he should have been number one contender without needing to go through the triple threat at Fastlane. And interruption from a character people like more worked for Mania 31, with Seth breaking up the Lesnar vs. Reigns match, and they could decide that it might just work out for them a second time.
With Ambrose and Triple H going at it last night on Raw, this one’s a little debunked, but they could still twist the same idea to make it so Dean Ambrose is somewhere in that main event picture, too.
- Heel turns
This could go either way. You’ve got the possibility of Dean making a heel turn, especially if he beats Brock Lesnar in his own match – again, Dean interrupts the match, as in the previous scenario, but this time it’s to fight Triple H AND Roman, to say he deserves better, and that it should never have been Roman in the match in the first place. Show us something on Raw the week before where Dean says to Roman that if he wins the title, he expects his brother to grant him a title shot soon, and Roman says no. The idea that Roman would break the rules of fair play just to keep the title away from Dean can send him over the edge, and he can turn. It would be a hell of a risk making the most popular face in the company into a heel, but people cheered Seth when he turned, and Roman’s not popular anyway, so leaving him in the lurch wouldn’t ruin the opinion of Dean too much.
Alternatively, they can turn Roman, who decides that if the crowd don’t want to cheer for him, he doesn’t want to do anything for them anymore. He doesn’t want to walk through the crowd to enter, because they don’t deserve to be that close to him, and he doesn’t want to do anything they’re happy with. This could be set up from now on, with Roman getting more vicious about attacking Triple H, about attacking anyone who gets near him – hell, have him punch a plant ‘audience member’ who climbs over the barriers and shouts that he can’t wrestle. Just whatever they do, he must be more action, less talk. This would all mean that by the time we got to the main event, what we’d have would be a dad figure (who had just had a successful NXT Takeover) against this violent man who is clearly slowly going off the rail with the situation. Then it doesn’t matter if they boo him, because if he wins, he can’t respect the title, either. He can win it, throw the title on top of Triple H’s body, and tell the crowd that their booing means nothing to him, before leaving the arena. At least then the negativity would be warranted by actual behaviour, and not just bad booking and over-protective spots. In this case, instead of trying to change the crowd reaction to suit the wrestler, they change the wrestler to suit the crowd reaction, which could be a very smart move indeed.
Well, those are my ideas as to how to save the main event and stop Vince from having to comp thousands of tickets – now it’s your turn to share yours! Leave a comment, or tweet us @rasslinrehash to let us know how you’d save the biggest event in the wrestling calendar from being the biggest flop of WWE’s recent history.