Well, I had planned on taking up this space to question what the hell WWE was thinking at TLC Sunday night when they screwed Roman Reigns again. I was going to throw some potential options out for WWE Champions heading into WrestleMania, debate possible Royal Rumble winners and then try to sort out where Reigns was headed. Then Raw happened. Reigns punched Vince McMahon in the side of the face and finally won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and escaped without any shenanigans getting in his way. For those that read this column regularly, you know I have been hoping they would just pull the trigger sooner than later and they finally did. Now it is time to find out if Reigns can be a viable top dog as we head into Mania season.
Kudos to WWE for the way they swung the crowds into backing Reigns. It has been a long, tough battle but they made it happen and also were smart enough to put the belt on him right when he really heated up. I thought they handled things well back in the summer by realigning Reigns so closely with Dean Ambrose and having them spend so much time as a team. The next step was not having either man turn heel on each other. Finally, by putting the title on someone as bland and generally disliked as Sheamus, they lowered the chances that Reigns would be booed in his big matches. The final five minutes of their TLC tilt were so well structured and they swung an anti-Reigns live crowd to open the match into one that was ready to burst if he won the title at the end. The Triple H destruction finally made him look like a badass that didn’t give a shit anymore. Follow that up with a fun Raw main event and a signature moment when he pelted VKM in the jaw and all of a sudden we have a pretty over Roman Reigns on top of the WWE mountain heading in 2016. The question now is… when does he fight Triple H? And who does he face at WrestleMania?
Looking at the lay of the land, I would assume we get Reigns vs. Triple H for the title at Royal Rumble. On that night in Orlando, Brock Lesnar dominates the field and wins the Rumble match to set up Lesnar/Reigns II and let Roman complete his long odyssey and cement himself as the man by finally knocking off Brock. I believe the Kevin Owens/Lesnar rumors are a red herring. And unless things really bottom out on Reigns, now is the time to see what they have. Then post-Mania, you can set up Owens, Big E. and eventually Seth Rollins as his challengers through the summer. Reigns vs. John Cena at SummerSlam could be a pretty big deal as well.
How about the rest of WrestleMania? If Reigns does face Brock, where does that leave John Cena? Do we finally get that Cena/Undertaker Mania match? Does a top of the card with Reigns/Lesnar II and Undertaker/Cena carry the show? Which legends, if any, actually compete? The Goldberg rumors continue to float out there. Rock seems unlikely but you never know. Do they make things happen with Ronda Rousey still? The promo for Steve Austin’s podcast with Shawn Michaels had a background chant of “one more match” behind it… subtle hinting? Or just a random throwaway? Lots of questions to be answered.
TLC was a pretty fun show across the board and being there live with a large crew of PTBN friends made it even better. Watching the opener unfold up close was tremendous fun, especially the wild spot that broke the ladder. If you can get to a live show with a big group of friends, I highly recommend it. No better way to do it.
The Mauro Ranallo signing surely seems to point towards WWE taking the Smackdown move seriously. USA is sure to put the pressure on and as a result this may be the most focused they have been on the blue brand since the early days of the brand extension. Will we start to see show exclusive wrestlers? Does Mauro make Smackdown must watch for at least the first few weeks? Kevin Kelly seems to think so.
Andy Dalton did Dalton things on Sunday. Ginger Snaps threw a brutal shovel pass inside the ten yard line and it promptly got picked off. He then compounded the issue by tackling a lineman in an absurd way and breaking his thumb in the process. The word is he could be back by playoff time but based on his track record, is that even a good thing?