Guest Induction: Roman Reigns’s first year as champion – Sufferin’ Suck-otash!

10 Submitted by on Fri, 01 April 2016, 12:00

In years past, we at Wrestlecrap have commemorated our anniversary on April 1st with guest columns. This year, we’re going one step further by reaching out to a writer not from another publication or field, but from another dimension altogether. For the first time ever, we’re happy to present a special induction written by Art0Donnell’s counterpart from a parallel universe. See if you can identify any differences between his universe and ours!

The biggest story heading into this year’s Wrestlemania is Roman Reigns’s abject failure to get over with the fans. The blame for this embarrassment falls squarely on WWE itself for refusing to listen to its own audience. The wise choice would have been to hold off on the big title win until fans were willing to accept Reigns. Unless the McMahons were stricken with some unforeseen bout of stupidity, WWE would then have had an entire year to methodically re-build Reigns as an ass-kicker (rather than a Cena clone) before it was time to put him in the Wrestlemania main event again.

Instead, Reigns beat Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31 to a chorus of boos and has held onto the WWE title for an entire year since.

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The night after Wrestlemania 31, Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to the delight of the vocally anti-Reigns crowd, but came up short.

And it was all downhill from there. With the backing of The Authority, Seth Rollins got a rematch at Extreme Rules. So confident was The Authority that Hunter, Stephanie, Kane, J & J Security, and Seth Rollins hosted a pre-emptive victory celebration to close the Raw before Extreme Rules.

Predictably, Roman Reigns crashed the party, and, in a very silly stunt, offered Rollins and company a “gift” of “exactly what you are full of.” On cue, gallons upon gallons of corn and lima beans rained from the ceiling onto the heel faction.

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“Sufferin’ succotash, son!” said a smug Roman. Still, it was arguably better than Vince’s original plan for the prank, which was to drop donkey dung from the rafters. Yeah, that would have been worse. As expected, Reigns retained at Extreme Rules.

The silliness continued into the summer, when WWE attempted to further tie Roman Reigns to his ever-popular kind-of-cousin, The Rock, as they had tried and failed miserably to do at the Royal Rumble.

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Rock wasn’t available on this particular Monday Night, though, so Mick Foley stepped in and re-enacted his and Rocky’s notorious “This is Your Life” skit from 1999.


Foley trotted out figures from Roman’s past, such as his CFL coach, who cut him from the Edmonton Eskimos…

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…and Richie Steamboat, who beat Reigns in the champion’s first match in WWE developmental.

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But no surprise guest proved more embarrassing than Reigns’s own dad, Sika.

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Sika berated the crowd for booing his son, then, further embarrassing his world champion offspring, bit the head off a live chicken right there on live TV.

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At Money in the Bank, Sheamus of all people won the briefcase.

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Indulge me for a moment while I editorialize. Here’s where WWE’s mistake in putting the belt on Roman Reigns becomes clear: had Roman not won the title at Wrestlemania, Booking 101 says that he would win the Money in the Bank briefcase to set up a future title shot and cash it in once he was better established. Well, actually Booking 101’s syllabus was written before 2005, so there’s actually nothing about Money in the Bank in that course, but you get the idea.

My personal favorite alternate booking scenario Wrestlemania 31 would have seen Seth Rollins cash in his briefcase during the Reigns-Lesnar match and win the impromptu Triple Threat match by pinning Reigns. From there the possibilities would have been endless. Well, almost endless; there would have been no way in hell that Sheamus would become Mr. Money in the Bank in the year 2015.

At Battleground in July, WWE brought back Lesnar for a rematch with Roman Reigns. Wanting both men to come out of the match looking strong, WWE booked a BS finish where another Superstar ran in to prevent either man from pinning the other. The predictable route would have been for Sheamus to try to cash in his MITB contract, but WWE went in a different direction by having The Undertaker show up and kick Brock Lesnar right in the testicles.

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His man-testicles, that is!

See, with Reigns as such a flop of a champion, WWE had to hot-shot the Lesnar-Taker program and book the much-anticipated rematch as the main event for Summerslam. It was a real kick in the nuts for those fans who wanted to see The Undertaker beat Lesnar at Wrestlemania 32 and ride off into the sunset.

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But what was an even bigger kick in the nuts were the many kicks in the nuts exchanged between Lesnar and Taker in their series of matches in 2015.

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Kicks and punches.

You’ve got to believe that WWE wouldn’t have booked something so stupid if they had simply kept the title off Reigns.

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Between Battleground and Summerslam, Sheamus made numerous failed attempts to cash in his MITB briefcase on a weakened Reigns, with Roman thwarting the Irishman each time with a Superman punch or spear before he could make it official.

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And here’s where things got stupider. If you thought that Roman’s food-based humor ended with his “succotash” stunt, you overestimate the former powerhouse of The Shield. Mocking Sheamus’s cowardice and refusal to challenge him face-to-face, Reigns said, and I quote, “I thought Irishmen had potatoes. It looks like you’re just smuggling some tater tots.”

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Don’t believe me? Here, have a listen.

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The subsequent chants of “Tater tots” from the WWE Universe may have landed Roman an endorsement deal with Ore-Ida, but they didn’t send fans scrambling to subscribe to WWE Network to catch Sheamus-Reigns at Summerslam 2015. (The Irishman’s main event push ended soon after, and as of this writing, he is messing around in tag matches with the mid-card foreign heel faction, the European Union)

Excuse me for playing Armchair Booker again…

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…but had Rollins cashed in at Wrestlemania, this would have been the perfect time to pull the trigger on a Roman Reigns heel turn.

Simply have Sting, who was egregiously mishandled at Wrestlemania 31, return to challenge Seth Rollins for the title at Night of Champions. The Icon would then win the WWE title in a shocking but feel-good moment, only to have Roman “rain” (ha!) on his parade by cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase on the beloved future Hall-of-Famer. One Superman Punch later (nothing too dangerous; we wouldn’t want to seriously injure a 56-year-old ring veteran with a limited number of matches left in him. That would be dumb), and Reigns would be not just the WWE Champion, but the most hated heel in years.

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But that’s not what happened. Instead, not only did Roman continue playing the babyface, but he got himself in a done-to-death feud with The Authority. Done-to-death except, in an unprecedented but unsurprising twist, the fans have actually sided with the tyrannical Triple H.

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I know I’ll get a lot of flak from any theoretical physicists reading this article, but even if there really is an infinite number of parallel universes out there, ours is certainly the only one where the fans cheer The Authority over the company’s #1 babyface.

Heading into this year’s Wrestlemania, WWE has done everything in their power to try to sell fans on a Roman Reigns-Triple H title match, even going so far as to schedule numerous Network specials between the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania.
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In addition to February 26th’s WWE Fastlane…

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…there was March 12th’s WWE Roadblock…

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…March 18th’s WWE Speedbump…

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…and March 27th’s WWE Roundabout, which will forever be remembered for its infamous aftermath.

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Heading into the show, WWE teased that Reigns would drop the title to Dean Ambrose and get pulled from the Wrestlemania main event. Instead, ignoring many explicit warnings from fans in attendance, WWE had Reigns win. The ensuing riot left hundreds injured and led to dozens of arrests, while the ensuing negligence lawsuits are bound to keep WWE in litigation for years.

The end result of WWE’s stubborn insistence on Reigns winning the title in Wrestlemania 31’s main event is a lackluster Wrestlemania 32 main event. Their only saving grace is a truly stacked undercard that will spare Reigns and Triple H the embarrassment of wrestling inside an empty Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

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And just think of what WWE could have had instead. If WWE had just held off having Roman Reigns win at last year’s Wrestlemania, all the pieces would have inevitably fallen into place, with Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose and The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar co-headlining an epic Wrestlemania 32 card. Unless Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Sting, Luke Harper, Neville, Cesaro, and John Cena had all somehow managed to get injured before the Show of Shows, WWE would have been poised to shatter attendance records this Sunday.

Believe that.

So, could you figure out the differences between the guest author’s universe and our own? If you guessed, “WWE writers are hopelessly out of touch and come up with the worst ideas,” you’re wrong. I asked for differences between his universe and ours, not similarities. No, the correct answer is that in our universe, you can’t induct a wresting angle into Wrestlecrap the same year it happens.

Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He also runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws. Follow him on Twitter @Art0Donnell. Email at: art@wrestlecrap.com
10 Responses to "Guest Induction: Roman Reigns’s first year as champion – Sufferin’ Suck-otash!"
  1. Hieronymus Botch says:

    That was beautiful, but I would have to disagree with your opening assessment: If you ask me, WWE did build up Roman methodically–they wanted to push him early…
    …then again, maybe you’re onto something…

  2. Doc 902714 says:

    Not the first time that HHH will (expected) be cheered more than the babyface in the main event of WM. If you recall 10 years earlier at WM 22, he was cheered more than (face) John Cena in their WWE Title Match. Having John Cena win that match and retain the title did not hurt his credibility as WWE Champion as they both delivered a solid match. If we get the same delivery from Triple H and Roman Reigns in their title match (and they most likely will deliver), Reigns may be able to win fans over to his side by match’s end. The problem with Roman Reigns’ booking is that WWE made a mistake of pairing Roman Reigns with despised heels like Sheamus in boring, plodding feuds that ensure that Roman will get the lions share of the cheers by comparison. They also erred in Roman’s feud with Bray Wyatt with the “Anyone But You” Roman angle which seemed to echo the sentiment of most fans.
    Hotshotting Ambrose into a WWE Title match with HHH for the WWE Title on a Network Special, clearly with no plans to alter the main event at Mania didn’t do Roman any favors either. In hindsight, Roman’s in-ring work looked better against bigger Superstars such as Brock Lesnar and Big Show. And he had a solid match with Bray Wyatt in Hell In the Cell at HIAC last year as well. I believe that it should’ve been Reigns vs. Owens in the final match of the tourney for WWE TItle at Survivor Series too. That way Owens could’ve gotten a controversial win against Ambrose further developing their feud over the IC Title and Roman would’ve received sympathy, at the very least, from WWE Universe (which he would not have gotten vs. Dean Ambrose) when Sheamus would cash in moments later.

    Despite a few bright spots, WWE booking of Roman Reigns in 2015 was a mess from start to finish but it’s still not too late to right the ship. Believe that.

  3. Sgt SuckerPunch (from the alternate dimension) says:

    I was there for the roundabout riot. I was paying no attention to the match itself and hadn’t noticed it was at its end. I spotted a peanut vendor, shouted out “hey peanut! over here!”, which had happend during the 1-2-3, and was, ironically, sucker punched in the gut. Still, better event than the March 30th, network exclusive, wwe rest stop.

  4. Geoff says:

    So Fastlane, Roadblock, Speedbump and Roundabout. Not to mention the Royal Rumble and the Elimination chamber. Boy you’d think they really don’t want the title holder to keep his title going into WM. Or maybe they don’t want the challenger in any sort of good shape going into WM. If you look at the moving gif on the side, you will see that even Taker and Lesner laughs at that idea. The genius of Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon strike again.

  5. Chris V says:

    Next up, we will apparently see “top face” Roman Reigns first defense against the extremely popular face, A.J. Styles.
    Nothing could go wrong with trying to get the fans, who are already booing Reigns, to cheer for their “top face” with that match, is there?
    I expect that WWE will insert Chris Jericho into the match, as the heel. Which is also reminiscent of when John Cena was champion, and fans turned against him, because they liked heel Jericho far better than face Cena.
    It seems almost as if WWE is booking Reigns to fail as a top face.

    I would say that WWE is planning that heel-turn for Reigns, after all, but considering that “nothing can ever happen in the WWE!”, I highly expect that WWE will just muddle along expecting Reigns to magically start getting cheered, because he’s their “top face”.

    • Gold Standard says:

      The WWF/WWE has had this problem for years. Anybody remember what Honky Tonk Man’s original alignment was? How about Rocky Maivia? How about Hulk Hogan?

      The WWE tries to do one thing (either by contract or focus group) and the crowd turns on it. In the past WWE was smart and would change with the times. Not so much today

  6. Mister Forth says:

    Actually there is a second difference, here, the Champion was booed going into the WrestleMania main event.

  7. Alex Kahrs says:

    I suspect something along these lines will be what we get THIS year. Good job, Nostradamus!

  8. Rodolfo Rodríguez (That Lucha Guy) says:

    Is there a universe where reigns doesn’t suck?

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