Universal Champion Roman Reigns’ Road To Royal Rumble 2021
Mark Justice: Roman Reigns has been perfect as the heel Tribal Chief who sits at the head of the table and leads his Samoan heritage to stardom with the Universal Championship in his grasp, his counsel, Paul Heyman, at his side, and his cousins, The Usos, behind him. Although he should have already had his rematch with former Universal Champion Bray Wyatt, the booking of his title reign has been consistent nonetheless.
He solidified his big return to in-ring competition after winning back the Universal Championship he never lost at PayBack, solidified his spot as the Tribal Chief after defeating his cousin, Jey Uso, at the two consecutive PPVs of Clash of Champions and Hell in a Cell, and even solidified himself as the superior champion in the WWE after defeating WWE Champion Drew McIntyre at Survivor Series this year.
Now, what’s next? Well, everyone expects Reigns to retain that championship all the way to WrestleMania 37, and he should. Once Reigns eviscerates former Universal Champion Kevin Owens at TLC, he should battle Daniel Bryan next at the Royal Rumble. Not only has this been heavily rumored but Bryan has been involved with Jey Uso quite a bit to warrant a future world title match against Reigns.
While Reigns’ feud with Uso was about family, his feud with Bryan needs to be about leadership. Remember Royal Rumble 2015? At that Royal Rumble, everyone booed Roman Reigns when he won the Royal Rumble because they wanted Daniel Bryan to win it and main event WrestleMania 31. Bryan was always considered the fans’ choice while Reigns was considered the corporate’s choice. However, was Roman Reigns really the corporate’s choice?
Look back at the ‘Yes’ Movement. No one’s more of a ‘Yes’ man than Daniel Bryan, right? ‘Yes’ men are always the corporate’s choice. As CM Punk once said in his famous pipe bomb promo, Vince McMahon is surrounded by ‘yes’ man. This is a theme that Reigns can focus on in his promos to manipulate the fan support for Bryan and antagonize the fans for believing in Bryan over Reigns as their leader five years ago. This feud needs to be centered on leadership for it to work.
Kevin Parvizi: Daniel Bryan ALL THE WAY. For me, the big key with booking Roman Reigns is thinking about two things. Firstly, the progression towards WrestleMania 37 in terms of his feuds, and then, secondly, the progression in the family dynamic.
At this point, it’s clear to me that we’re getting the Bloodline (minus Naomi). Whenever Jimmy Uso is ready, which should be soon, we’re going to have the Usos and Roman Reigns working together as an unstoppable trio on SmackDown. Jey and Jimmy are going to reach another level as a tag team, and I even think we’ll see Jey mix it in with the Intercontinental Championship scene.
I also think Jey can be used heavily in a Daniel Bryan feud, just as he’s been integral to the development of the TLC program between Reigns and Owens.
For me, there are two main reasons why a Bryan and Reigns feud makes the most sense for the Royal Rumble. The first is the name value. Reigns is the biggest deal in WWE right now, and so he needs an opponent at the second-biggest Pay Per View (yes, the Rumble is bigger than SummerSlam) of the year and the one that kicks off ‘Mania season. Of the full-time male superstars after Reigns, who better than Bryan? A Reigns vs. Bryan match would stand out just as much as the Rumble matches.
But the second is more logistical in terms of Reigns’ character booking. Reigns is the biggest heel in wrestling right now. That won’t change in the slightest until fans return to the arena and start inevitably cheering for Reigns, but until then, he is THE villain. And so, Bryan is the perfect early protagonist for Reigns after Owens, because he is the most established, beloved babyface in WWE. That sets the stage for Reigns to get even more heat, which will build him up and build him up until he finally puts over a rising babyface. (Big E?)