2015 Royal Rumble Match Preview – No. 1: Roman Reigns

Over the last week, I’ve revealed my top five most-likely Royal Rumble winners. Today, the series comes to a close, as we’ll look at my number one most-likely Rumble winner, Roman Reigns. –Scott Strandberg

Previous entries:

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Well, here we are. I already shared my existential crisis over this year’s Rumble in the last entry. So, today I’d like to talk about not only why I think Reigns will win, but also the scenario which would allow me to stomach that development.

As it currently stands, I am not a fan of Roman Reigns. Let me be clear when I say that I always liked Reigns as part of The Shield. However, WWE’s push for Reigns as a singles competitor has been so inorganic that I have soured on him considerably.

While his ring work has improved somewhat — his moveset has expanded at least a little bit — he’s still too green in the ring to be the top guy in the company, and his promos are frequently painful to sit through. However, as I expressed in my piece about Daniel Bryan, my heart says Bryan, but my brain says Reigns.

For a long time, I considered Bryan the favorite to win the Rumble. Then, I remembered what happened last year. See, here’s the thing: I’m not sure I trust WWE to not make the same mistake twice in a row. I also don’t think they even realize it would be a mistake.

Last year, WWE misjudged how warmly fans would receive a returning Batista as a babyface. This year, WWE has already shown repeatedly that they misjudge how fans feel about Reigns. The problem isn’t even necessarily my belief that Bryan should win. The problem is that — Bryan or no Bryan — Batista was a poor choice in 2014, and Reigns would be a poor choice (for different reasons) in 2015.

Hell, the best thing for Reigns himself would be to not win the Rumble. His development cycle is simply not far enough along to be handed the keys to the kingdom, and fans turning on him would be horribly detrimental to his career arc.

So, now that I have all that off my chest, let’s talk about how WWE could make this palatable. In my opinion, the absolute best way for WWE to encourage fans to accept a Reigns Rumble win would be for Seth Rollins to walk out of the Rumble with the title, setting up a showdown between the former Shield brethren at WrestleMania.

That story has so much natural drama behind it — and Rollins is such a deeply despised heel — that I believe fans would be happy with the result. But Roman Reigns against Brock Lesnar? Why should anyone want to see that?

Furthermore, how many people would actually be rooting for Reigns over Lesnar? If the plan for WrestleMania really is to go with Reigns vs. Lesnar, it will show how deeply out of touch Vince McMahon is with his fan base.

Enjoy the Rumble, and here’s hoping WWE proves me wrong tonight.