WWE was right: no one really saw this one coming.
Roman Reigns made a shocking comeback on Sunday night as SummerSlam ceased broadcasting. And since the jump it was different – draped in a tight “Wreck Everyone & Leave” shirt and fully bearded, he brutalized Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt’s The Fiend.
The Big Dog was pissed off and spit mad and threw stuff like “You’re not a monster unless I’m here” and “I made you” making a victim of two Superstars who really made his life was hell for most of his time in WWE.
And the fans surely jumped right to the natural question: is it the heel turn? Is Reigns a bad guy now?
WWE could always go back and have him play a little more of a tweener role where he plays with the line but never crosses it completely.
Roman reign @WWERomanReigns
You’ll never see it coming. #SummerSlam https://t.co/potOMXGs9S
But to outright ambush two guys after a prolonged absence that hasn’t hurt him lately and really didn’t hurt anyone near Reigns and beat them with a steel chair? Attacking Strowman to the point that he can’t move and interrupt The Fiend’s big win at the end of the show? This is all pretty heel.
And to add to the above, there weren’t any silly fist-cocks or oh-rahs, just a distinctly bigger reign dominating his “backyard.” No waistcoat or smile, just… destroying everyone and leaving (sorry).
Call it an appropriate turn of events, really. WWE fans haven’t seen Reigns in a long time, and with an audience still limited amid the coronavirus pandemic, it was easy to think fans really wouldn’t see him for the whole of 2020.
Still, he returned to what was arguably the best show of the year.
SummerSlam didn’t really look loaded up front and to make it weirder for the second biggest show of the year, WWE oddly positioned another pay-per-view, Payback, only a week longer. late.
But the map was downright stellar. There haven’t been any silly finishes or weird things that have hurt other branded shows. The women delivered dominant performances across the board, Seth Rollins helped Dominik Mysterio look amazing, and Drew McIntyre continued his consistently refreshing title run (he’s not a five-stroke champion) with a win. on Randy Orton in a game where neither of the guys suffered and they look set for a rematch. And Keith Lee is on his way too.
🚨🚨🚨 #TheBigDog IS BACK !!! 🚨🚨🚨 #SummerSlam #UniversalTitle @WWERomanReigns https://t.co/TUvRjw5cvw
It’s also just painting with broad strokes on the show. Asuka is a champion again. There is an intrigue with Bayley and Sasha Banks. Even Strowman and Wyatt took a safe route which, had Reigns not returned, would have continued to be interesting.
But the Reigns thing sort of dominates everything, and rightly so. It’s a momentous occasion and the first clues are that he’s finally embracing the character fans have long been looking for – the badass with a nasty streak that doesn’t lean too much into the babyface stuff that feels good to the point. that it distracts the public. no matter what he does.
He’s the character Reigns has long deserved. Fans have seen flashes of this in the past, this type of guy who doesn’t take prisoners who doesn’t say much but terrifies opponents. If Sunday night’s clues are correct, there will be no more “Suffering” moments. Maybe he finally walks past The Shield, also ditching the entry vest and music.
Granted, WWE and The Big Dog had no other choice, right? If he hit the ring for his big comeback on Sunday in a vest, did the hoo-rah thing, and smiled when the show stopped broadcasting… the odds aren’t going to jostle much. And he has an endless rivalry with Strowman and Wyatt, so the same old Reigns who would come back to fight them again were worth the shrug at best.
WWE SummerSlam @Slam summer
#TheBigDog @WWERomanReigns destroying EVERYBODY in front of his eyes! #SummerSlam https://t.co/X1v6DwvafJ
But this? It’s new. These are the type of reigns that could create palpable fear in a monster like Strowman. It’s the type of kingdoms that can strike with a Supernatural Fiend without a problem. It’s the top of the list, potentially transcendent to the larger media type of reigning champion work with incredible potential.
Perhaps more importantly, it could look like a potential turning point for WWE. Ratings were down, the oddities of the pandemic around attendance and pre-check-in took a toll on the product and kept things on hold.
Reigns is coming back and having the go-ahead to flirt with heel work is a good sign. That it happened on the best non-WrestleMania show of the year so far is even better. WWE has always wanted The Big Dog to be the face of society and the Superstar leading the charge, but has repeatedly failed by pushing it down fans’ throats to the point of exhaustion.
But on Sunday night, WWE hinted at giving fans what they want with Reigns, which would easily mean the company would get what they want out of it.
And given the quality of SummerSlam, it couldn’t have happened at a better time.