So the Big Dog and the Dead Dog are set to square off at WrestleMania for ownership of a yard, and I for not could not be more…well, intrigued as to how WWE plans to pull this off. Given all that we know of how Vince and Co. view Roman Reigns, it’s hard to imagine they are planning a heel turn here. Roman Reigns is a face; Undertaker is the face. A large portion of the fan base loves to hate Roman; Almost all of the fanbase loves to love Taker. If Vince and Co. think this will be The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan, they are sadly mistaken. Which is why I say that this match-up should not be about yards or legacies or whether or not a man wearing mascara can beat up a man with permanently wet hair.
It should be about us.
Let’s examine, shall we?
The Undertaker is a beloved, hallowed figure. A first-ballot Hall of Famer whose legacy will, ironically, never die. There is arguably no one on the current roster who would receive a larger pop than Taker in any arena at any event. This should piss off a few full-time performers, no? Don’t a lot of us complain about part-timers taking up precious spots, particularly at this time of the year? Isn’t Taker, he of the one/two match a year schedule, the ultimate part timer?
I say yes. You say, “So what?”
See, the thing about beating Taker at WrestleMania is that the steam was taken off of it when Lesnar ended the streak. Yes, Undertaker will always be The Phenom, a man of inhuman abilities even at the ripe old age of 647. I get that in storyline, he’s still a huge mountain to overcome. But a win here for Reigns, a man in his prime, isn’t doing the unthinkable. It’s basically doing what he should be doing, but without the monumental aspect of being the first to accomplish said feat. Yeah, there’s still a rub there, and it will be insanely hyped up to ensure the rub is truly rubbed, but Roman doesn’t really need a rub.
What Roman needs, and this match needs, is carryover.
Let’s rewind to Bray Wyatt’s run-in with the Deadman. Bray carries the feud through WrestleMania, wherein he naturally loses the match and yet, inexplicably, still calls himself the New Face of Fear (with zero repercussions but somehow, plenty of straight faces). This match served as nothing more than a way for Undertaker to win a WrestleMania match. There was no carryover other than for most of us to wonder if Bray was intentionally being portrayed as delusional or not.
So what does this have to do with us? Good question!
If Reigns vs. Undertaker is about legacy, I must admit that I don’t care. Undertaker’s legacy is cemented. Reigns doesn’t have a lot to prove. Will I view Roman differently Monday if he wins on Sunday? Nope. He’s already a bonafide main event star. He’s won the WWE championship several times. It’s even arguable that given Braun Strowman’s build and their match at Fastlane, that win may be more impressive for Roman than one over Undertaker (I know, I know, but C’mon, you know it’s true (it’s damn true).
The surefire way to ensure this angle carries through is for WWE to have Roman steer into the skid a bit and become one of us. By that I mean one who is annoyed at part-timers coming into the biggest events and stealing the spotlight. He doesn’t have to say that exactly, but what if he said something to the effect of, “I’m out here every day busting my ass, and for what? Half of every arena telling me I suck. You’re here for five minutes and all you get is love. So to that half of you fans that would boo me and cheer him, what I do to him at WrestleMania is on you.”
Imagine that?! (Who let Murray Hewitt in here?)
By doing this, WWE would accomplish several things:
It would keep Reigns a face to those who already love him
It would subtly allow Reigns to look past a man who, for all rights, he should be able to look past
It would make this personal between Roman and the fanbase
It would give heat to a match that can go beyond legacy
It would extend the match’s effects far beyond Monday night
It would also make each and every one of us pick a side
Now, there’s no way Vince and Co. would actually go through with this. You don’t have your mega-face superstar call out any portion of the fan base, period. Or maybe you do. And maybe you have Taker remind Roman that there’s a reason the entire fanbase loves Taker. That after all these years of digging holes and burying souls, he’s something Roman will never be.
Legacy is all well and good, but this match should feel personal. Not just for the two men involved, but for all of us watching. This is how you do it in a way that makes sense and adds to the drama.