The end of WrestleMania 33 will best be remembered as The Undertaker’s swan song. He got a prolonged exit as the WWE faithful on-hand and watching all over the world paid their last respects, and vice versa. Heading into the evening, this was a distinct possibility, but it didn’t make the moments any less palpable.
Of course, to set that ceremony into motion, the Undertaker had to be the latest to fall to Roman Reigns. Ugh.
The tides of the WWE crowd turned against Roman in January of 2015, when, much to their chagrin, he had the unmitigated gall to win the Royal Rumble instead of Daniel Bryan. Not even an appearance on his behalf by The Rock could blunt the vitriol. It seems like a lot longer ago.
Since then, you just have to go into a big event with the idea that Reigns is gonna win. Even when the “authority” kept taking the title away from him, he kept winning it back, eventually beating Triple H in arguably the most deflating WrestleMania main event in recent memory last year in Dallas.
His first clean loss — i.e. losing without being struck by a foreign object or interfering adversary — was to Seth Rollins on an episode of Raw last June. It was flabbergasting, but then we learned he failed a WWE wellness test. And then the 30-day suspension just so happened to coincide with a time period where he could return for the next PPV main event. He got pinned by Dean Ambrose there, and everybody thought he was finally starting to get his comeuppance.
Not so. While he lost matches in feuds with Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, he was never beaten clean. And then Reigns vanquished rising star Braun Strowman — who was somehow not even on the main card last night — at Fastlane in March. Yada yada yada, The Big Dog, as WWE’s announcers insist on calling Reigns, Showed The Undertaker That This Was His Yard.
The thing is — Reigns’ matches are phenomenally entertaining! It’s his promos, and the idea that Vince McMahon will never relent against pushing him to the moon, that remain galling.
In the modern parlance of pro wrestling, where the fans are intricately informed and appreciate artful heels like The Miz and Kevin Owens, it’s readily apparent that WWE brass knows exactly what the reaction to Roman Reigns’ unrelenting victories will be, and spoon feeds them to us.The wrestlers we all like best wish they could drum up the reaction, either cheers or boos, that Reigns commands. His appearance on Raw tonight will make my blood boil.
It’ll prolly be awhile, but it’ll be super satisfying the next time Roman goes down clean.