WWE Payback 2020: Roman Reigns Reclaims His Spot As The Top Face

WWE, Roman Reigns (Photo by Ron ElkmanSports Imagery/Getty Images)
WWE, Roman Reigns (Photo by Ron ElkmanSports Imagery/Getty Images) /

It’s time for Roman Reigns to reclaim his place at the top at WWE Payback 2020.

So much can change in the land of the WWE in such a short time. Here I am on Wednesday morning, writing a piece on Roman Reigns’ Universal Championship opportunity this Sunday at WWE Payback 2020, when this time last week, that wasn’t even a thought that would’ve crossed my mind.

Roman Reigns exploded back on the scene this past Sunday when he abruptly stopped what should’ve been a creepy and dark post-celebratory match for The Fiend after Wyatt successfully pinned Braun Strowman to (finally) win back the Universal title he lost earlier this year.

The Big Dog came in with a big bang: attacking both Bray and Braun, sporting a new t-shirt (not to mention new smile), and teasing a new and more aggressive edge – potentially a tweener character on the horizon, which would fit Roman nicely, and is the best way to evolve this character.

Roman’s return was a welcome addition to the show. Not only did it leave a massive cliffhanger of sorts to close the SummerSlam pay-per-view (PPV), it also offered up that unexpected plot twist that I felt the event lacked. I thought it was because it was the official debut of a “ThunderDome” event at that was the “big” pull. The matches were great, I was entertained thoroughly; however, there was no “surprise” factor until Roman jumped in during the close. Reigns’ comeback was perfectly timed, executed, and dare I say, an incredible way to end the show.

Roman Reigns took a break from WWE to protect his family

Much like most of us all across the world, 2020 has been a hard year and COVID-19 has affected us all in different ways. After spending most of 2019, post-leukemia recovery return, in the shadows, Roman Reigns was slowly, but surely, making his way back into the title race picture in early 2020, and it wasn’t hard to see that he was being positioned to once again become the top face of the SmackDown brand by defeating Goldberg at WrestleMania 36 to become the new Universal Champion. Alas, Roman prioritized the health of his family amongst an unknown virus, bowed out of the Grandest Stage of Them All, and turned away from a big paycheck and shiny new title.

No one could blame him (although I know there were some haters online); however, as a parent myself, I completely understood and respected Roman Reigns’ decision. Not only in light of his own health, but the health of his children, and newborn twins. It’s something you just don’t ever take a chance with, and I can’t say that I wouldn’t have done the same thing if I was in his position. I respect the fact that he turned away from a major WM moment, an opportunity to notch another high-tier title reign on his resume, and well, the money; all in an effort to protect his family. People can say what they want, but that takes true courage in my books.

With that all said, can Roman capitalize on the momentum he had earlier in 2020, after a four-month hiatus, to turn around and beat Bray Wyatt to become the new Universal Champion and once again, take that rightful place at the top of the WWE ladder?

I think so. With his new look, new aggression, potentially slight twist in character (I’d have to see a promo from him on Friday to truly tell, but I do believe he’ll be edgier moving forward). I also think that it would be a wonderful coup if he did snatch the Universal Championship from Bray Wyatt right away this Sunday at Payback, to create a lasting effect for a long-term program between these two.

Bray and Roman have history; after all, it was 2014 when the then cult-leader believed that the winner of Money in the Bank should be “anyone, but Roman”, attacking Reigns before he could snatch that briefcase, land the win, and essentially secure a match for the WWE title.

If Roman were to turn around and dethrone Wyatt/The Fiend a mere week after he was successful in finally getting his title back, this could unleash an ugly and truly nasty feud; it could be the ultimate “payback” from Roman; rehash old feelings; place some history in the mix; these two could truly battle it out for months moving forward.

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Moreover, it would place Roman Reigns back in the fold and back on top as the number one face of the WWE. Back where he belongs.