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Coming to Terms with Roman Reigns as WWE's Undisputed Champion Until WrestleMania 40

Chris Roling

If it wasn't apparent enough already, pro wrestling fans really need to come to terms with Roman Reigns remaining WWE's undisputed top champion until at least WrestleMania 40.

That's groan-inducing for some fans, assuredly, but it's not the worst scenario in the world now that this path has clearly been laid out. In fact, while it might not be the top choice of every observer in the moment, the entire saga has a chance of being an all-timer in hindsight.

WWE didn't go with the too-obvious route of having Cody Rhodes take down Reigns at 'Mania, which was probably the right call. Now story elements like The Rock remain potentially on the table, and Rhodes can take the long path to really earning it. As it was previously built, he entered the Royal Rumble last and was an outsider suddenly thrust into what has primarily been a family-based storyline (at the big points where it really matters, at least).

Much of this indeed has to do with Rhodes. WWE has gone the similarly predictable, albeit entertaining path. He technically "won" over Brock Lesnar at Backlash, but scampered away from the bout and immediately got swept up in an upcoming rematch. Odds seem strong the feud will continue to SummerSlam now that he's out of the heavyweight title picture, as he should be—only Reigns' titles should interest him, from a character perspective.

That heavyweight title introduced by Triple H for Raw is a major factor, too. Why bring back another title so the non-Reigns program has a top title simply for the months of April-September? While Raw has been missing a top title, the new creative direction under Trips has done just fine with previously underutilized mid-card titles serving in that headlining role.

Granted, this new title will have a hard time shaking free of the consolation prize stigma for being unable to beat Reigns, but that's an inevitable byproduct of the company choosing to (foolishly) unify titles in the first place. Had this new title been introduced months and months ago, some of that stench would have worn off by now. Alas, as they say.

But while these other things develop off to the side, the roadmap for Reigns is clear. Each appearance will gear toward developing the Bloodline story further, another bonus of having him win at 'Mania over Rhodes. It will also sparingly use airtime to build up his limited actual title defenses.

Realistically, SummerSlam is the only place there is a chance Reigns drops the titles. WWE isn't building this story for this long to have him lose on a shock result. It would be silly, to say the least. He'll hit the 1,000-day mark just after Night of Champions, so that's out. He's not going to drop it at a gimmick event like Money in the Bank, even if it's in London.

SummerSlam? Maybe they get Rock. Maybe it's Jey Uso or Solo Sikoa, depending on how that storyline develops. Maybe Sami Zayn gets another shot or they build another Drew McIntyre-level Superstar up for the moment.

After the summer spectacle, depending on what events WWE actually does, Reigns doesn't have to defend besides the international events that might pop up—but he's not losing on one of those, either. By the fall, the calendar has reached Survivor Series territory again, which figures to have another Bloodline slant.

And after that? It's effectively 'Mania season again, where his next challenger really starts the climb at marquee spots like Royal Rumble. That will probably be Rhodes again, but a lot can happen in a year. Fans will have a say, too, which makes the run continuing all the more intriguing.

We won't harp on the point too much that Reigns could win at 'Mania 40, either. But with the presence of another title now, who knows? It's not like fans are going to stop watching. If anything, the company will only keep growing internationally. Provided WWE gets a little more creative with the finishes to his matches to avoid interference fatigue, this can string out pretty much for as long as the company desires.

The important thing to remember is the payoff. Fans will never see something like the Streak ending again. But Reigns finally losing will be one of the biggest wrestling moments of a generation, which is a testament to the journey.

Truth is, etching some of the best pro wrestling runs of all time in the record books day by day for years wasn't universally popular with all fans at the time they occurred, either.

Call it a good problem to have—few would argue this isn't a golden era for pro wrestling given the presence of multiple viable promotions, stunning generation-spanning Superstars and better environments for those stars and fans alike. At the very top of it rests a potential all-timer of a run and tale that fans will get to say they experienced.

Viewed through this lens, coming to terms with Reigns' far-from-over run isn't so hard. Done well, it will even be worth waiting on the conclusion given the historical landmark it is shaping up to be.


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