I hated early 2015 in wrestling as much as anyone else. I did indeed cancel my WWE Network subscription for several months when Roman Reigns won the Royal Rumble, effectively dooming his relationship with fans for years. And even though they played the Rollins card to save Wrestlemania 31 – even though the straight Reigns/Lesnar match was pretty good – the threat of Reigns and Lesnar one-on-one for the world title at Wrestlemania has been a cloud darkening all of WWE programming. They were never going to give up on their original plan for Santa Clara no matter who had to be sacrificed to preserve it.
Even as Roman became a better and better wrestler and started winning doubters over, when Wrestlemania season rolled around and he got main event after main event, it was back to square one. LOLROMANWINS, as it goes. It’s definitely still frustrating, and this is coming from someone who came around hard on Roman. At the end of Elimination Chamber, I couldn’t even really be disappointed, because the second Rollins was eliminated there was basically no point in thinking anything interesting would happen.
The primary positive emotion I felt was well, at least we’re finally getting this over with.
Which is, uh, not super inspiring when you’re talking about what should be the biggest match of the year.
And I’ll say that, on principle, I’m still not psyched about this because the other possible Lesnar stories would’ve been fresher and more interesting. But I’ll say a little louder that on Monday, WWE showed us that maybe this story can be better than 2015’s title tug-of-war.
I don’t for a second believe that Brock Lesnar legitimately no-showed RAW. I do, however, think that saying he did is a really brilliant way to kick off some frustration about the fact that he’s never around. For a lot of people who don’t buy the whole “the title is more important this way” schtick – myself included – and people frustrated that Lesnar just shows up from time to time to remind you everybody else doesn’t stack up in kayfabe – like myself – this is a perfect storyline.
It’s not just Roman chasing the title because he’s the best and believe that. WWE has given the controversial Roman a mission we can all get behind: bring the title back to TV and the regular, hardworking roster, where it belongs. Even if you hate Roman as a talent, that’s objectively a noble cause worth rooting for. Sure, it relies on accepting that Roman has to do it because nobody else can, but that’s the hole we’re in.
And maybe a wrestler people hate in a storyline that’s easy to love can be a recipe for success at Wrestlemania.
(Still probably won’t beat Styles vs. Nakamura, but that’s a high bar to clear.)
-Bobby Murphy (@RobertJMurph)
Image courtesy WWE.com