Of all the implements left in WWE's toolbox to win Roman Reigns' detractors over, a WrestleMania showdown with The Rock is among the most powerful.
A match against The Rock at this stage of his career, where he's far more movie star than pro wrestler, is special. Every time he steps into the ring at this point is a monumental event in the WWE world, especially when it comes at the biggest sports entertainment extravaganza of the year in WrestleMania.
Should the company offer the heir apparent to the WWE throne, Reigns, a crack at The Great One at The Show of Shows, it will no doubt be extraordinary. But will it be the key to quell the incessant pushback to Reigns' rise?
The Big Dog has been historically polarizing during his solo career.
There are clearly those in the crowd wearing his merchandise and roaring for him as he lands a Superman Punch. The part of the crowd that is convinced he's not a top star, though, is vocal and persistent. He's booed despite being a babyface and often the subject of online ire.
WWE wants him to be the face of the company. Enough of the audience, however, wants something different, namely someone not named Reigns to lead the way into the New Era.
An opportunity to further elevate The Big Dog in spite of all that could be on the way: The Rock returning to WrestleMania to face his cousin Reigns in a pass-the-torch clash. It's a match the powerhouse of The Shield would welcome.
In an interview with the Mirror this week. Reigns told Neil Docking, "I can only see me and Rock going at WrestleMania. Not only because of his schedule, but just the level of that match and the level of superstar that he is and you know, where I'm trying to get."
The Big Dog went on to call it a "money match" and sounded like he was already in promo mode.
"I'm the guy who is still in the ring, so if someone who isn't in the ring every single night wants to come back in the ring, we now call it my yard," Reigns said. "So he is going to have to come to me and then we'll go from there."
Reigns is right. It would be a huge match. It's one of the few dream bouts left to hand him at The Show of Shows.
In the past six years, The Rock has only wrestled six times, per CageMatch.net. The only one to beat him in that span is John Cena.
Should Reigns become the second man on that list, his resume will be even more impressive. The trouble is, WWE has already tried to pass the torch. Reigns has taken down megastars before, but it hasn't softened his haters' stance.
Reigns conquered Triple H at WrestleMania 32 and retired Undertaker at The Showcase of the Immortals the following year. He followed that with a clean win over Cena at No Mercy in September.
As Miami Herald columnist Scott Fishman noted, beating both The Deadman and The Cenation Leader is noteworthy:
Traditionally, this kind of changing-of-the-guard collision has been a boon for emerging names.
Brock Lesnar knocked off The Rock. Steve Austin got past Shawn Michaels. Randy Orton outlasted Mick Foley. This route hasn't had the desired effect with Reigns, though.
Fans weren't impressed or won over by The Juggernaut smashing Undertaker into the canvas; they only increased the volume of their discontent. He was welcomed with "Roman sucks!" chants when he looked to celebrate his WrestleMania 33 win.
At this point, it feels like Reigns could beat Stone Cold, CM Punk and Goldberg in the same night and it wouldn't matter. The anti-Reigns folks won't be swayed by standard means.
Jim LaMotta of FightBoothPW wrote, "I'm not sure if Roman Reigns getting over is possible without a full heel turn."
A character change and some strong writing will have to be a part of the "get Reigns over" formula along with any marquee matches ahead.
The less WWE tries to make Reigns the next Cena, the better. He has to be able to develop his own voice. Although it's not WWE's style these days, the company has to stop scripting everything and let Reigns loose on the mic more often.
We have to see Reigns be a fist-swinging badass who creates vivid, violent images, too.
That's how Braun Strowman got so hot. The Monster Among Men has been a part of stunning, simply cool moments like overturning an ambulance and breaking a ring under his and Big Show's weight.
WWE already has the ball rolling on the easiest way to increase Reigns' popularity. He's a part of The Shield again.
The Hounds of Justice reuniting this Monday is a key step for him. When he was the silent killer of the most popular group on the roster, Reigns' trajectory pointed straight up.
As attached as so many fans are to this stable and how impressive he, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are as a unit, it's going to be hard not to jump on the Reigns bandwagon now that they're together again.
The Shield tearing through the roster, Reigns' embracing his darker side and a smashmouth contest against The Rock at WrestleMania all together is how The Big Dog changes the narrative of his career.
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