WWE's Next Thanos: Who will take Roman Reigns' throne?

A look at who should take over for Roman Reigns as WWE's main event villain.
Roman Reigns The Bloodline Jan 2.jpg
Roman Reigns The Bloodline Jan 2.jpg /

Regardless of whether his cousin adopts the moniker, Roman Reigns has been the final boss of WWE for almost four years. The "Tribal Chief" has smashed and stacked his way to over 1,300 consecutive days as champion, fending off the likes of Cody Rhodes, Jey Uso, Edge, Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt, Goldberg, and Brock Lesnar in a who's who of WWE's stacked catalog of talent historically and contemporary.

At the height of The Bloodline, Reigns was flanked by one of the greatest tag teams on the planet, a blue-chip prospect of an enforcer, alongside one of the greatest minds in the sport in Paul Heyman. Those who watched the two-part 'Avengers Infinity War' and 'Endgame' box-office hits may recall a similar vein there with the big bad, Thanos, who was also proceeded by his 'Black Order': His wise and calculating right-hand Ebony Maw, the brute Obsidian Cull, and the malicious tandem of Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight. It's clear to see that, with all the cinema references made within The Bloodline lore, there are glaring similarities to its cinematic counterpart.

One might even go further to say Reigns and his family collected gold much in the way Thanos collected the Infinity Stones, achieving some perceived higher purpose and expecting gratitude - and acknowledgement - despite the destruction left lying in his wake. Much like Thanos, Reigns has continually stopped the heroes from saving the day. Much like Thanos, the three of them heroes couldn't live with their failings and have re-united in a final rally. And much like Thanos, Reigns has seen his 'Black Order' lose members.

Sure, they've "added" The Rock to their ranks, but to extend the Marvel metaphor this would be the equivalent of Thanos inviting The Beyonder into his inner circle. It's not an alliance built to last when there are two villains capable and of the belief they should be king. It may be presumptive but the parallel suggests that Reigns has his back to the wall, and this time Cody Rhodes can be expected to go for the head.

Once Cody Rhodes finishes his story, there will be a new story to be told for the "Head of the Table". What that turns out to be time will only tell. But there has to be a yin and yang in all of life, and there will need to be a new villain to push the heroes' limits.

Reigns has had his fair share of would-be heroes pushing his limits; Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens for example. But it takes that special one to finish the job, and it appears as though that time has come. Now that it seems as though WWE has found its hero to down the current villain. There will be a need for a new villain, a new common goal for heroes to rally behind, and a new Thanos.

Gunther has been auditioning for the role of main event heel since he stepped foot in WWE under the name Walter, stacking up monumental reigns as the NXT UK and WWE Intercontinental Champion throughout his time. Likewise, he has already developed the aura that comes with a final boss character, a hulking and relentless battering ram that fans actively root to see toppled. So it would be the smoothest of transitions, surely, for the Austrian to take the throne and hold it for however long he sees fit.

There's a lot more that goes into being Thanos than just physical stature and pedigree in battle. He's a tactician, operating like military top brass as he positions his pawns to amplify his own success. Much like Reigns has operated in this role leading The Bloodline, Gunther has done similarly with Imperium - Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci - throughout the years.

What makes a great villain is the heroes they stand against, crafting a compelling tale of good vs. evil and giving the fans someone to get behind. Gunther, once again, has already shown to share this trait. His NXT UK title reign came to an end in a climactic rematch with Ilja Dragunov, whom the fans got behind after his initial failings against the villain. Likewise, fans have rallied for either of Chad Gable or Sheamus to dethrone Gunther as Intercontinental Champion. Once more, the groundswell of support for these challengers has come after their initial, valiant failings against the champion.

Part of Gunther's lore is the victories he racks up. He appears to be omnipotent and infallible no matter the opponent, venue, or stipulation, and there isn't a name on the roster he couldn't be expected to go over. He would arguably fit the role Reigns has filled since 2020 easier too, given that this has been his character stretching back to his time on the independent circuit. Reigns, on the other hand, underwent a severe transformation from the kevlar-wrapped cookie cutter babyface fans loved to hate for all of the wrong reasons.

There is something to be said about WWE's relationship with the easy route, oftentimes rejecting the straightforward and desirable for the convoluted and nauseating. But given that he is already a major player on the roster today, it can be reasonably expected that Gunther will be given his time to shine. He holds all of the potential to be WWE's next Thanos at a time it's needed, so expect the "Ring General" to lead the main event for years to come.