If the latest WWE rumors from Dave Meltzer are accurate, “smart” fans might not like what WWE has planned for next year’s WrestleMania 34. And if these “spoilers” are spot-on, the company will double down on its plans for Roman Reigns’ push, building him up for a big Universal Championship win over Brock Lesnar at the coming year’s ‘Mania main event, and a career trajectory similar to John Cena’s.
In less than three weeks, wrestling fans around the world will be paying close attention to WrestleMania 33, an event WWE often refers to as the “grandest stage of them all.” And in the weeks that have just passed, we’ve seen several matches get confirmed, including Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker, and a Universal Championship match where Goldberg will be defending his title against Brock Lesnar. Meanwhile, John Cena will be teaming with real-life girlfriend Nikki Bella against husband and wife The Miz and Maryse in a mixed tag team match.
Most WrestleMania spoilers and predictions are suggesting that Reigns will defeat Undertaker in their match, with the possibility that Roman will deal ‘Taker his second, and possibly last ‘Mania career loss. And like many fans, sites such as Smark Out Moment are clamoring that WWE take the opportunity to turn Reigns heel, as there’s no way fans would buy into him as the good guy if placed in a feud against The Undertaker, whose previous 21-match winning streak at WrestleMania is seen as the most iconic record in the event’s three-decade-plus history.
— Alexey Silveranovsky (@silveranovsky) March 12, 2017
There is, however, the expectation that WWE won’t make Roman Reigns into a villain even in his current situation. Previously, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter‘s Dave Meltzer had said that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon isn’t willing to turn Reigns heel as he sees “The Big Dog” as a “big draw” as a heroic character. According to IWNerd, Meltzer noted that McMahon typically “shoots down” any suggestions for a Roman Reigns heel turn, comparing his current situation to that of John Cena. Cena has been playing a babyface for over a decade, yet is widely respected among fans nowadays despite all the boos he’s gotten from “smart” fans in his long run as a good guy.
The latest word from Meltzer suggests that current WrestleMania 34 spoilers are pointing to Roman Reigns facing Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship next year in New Orleans. Wrestling Inc. wrote that this doesn’t necessarily point to Reigns defeating The Undertaker at WrestleMania 33, nor does it mean that Lesnar, who is expected to win the Universal title from Goldberg at this year’s ‘Mania, will hang on to the belt for a full year.
Instead, Meltzer believes that Reigns’ possible win at WrestleMania 34 in 2018 will be the culmination of a year-long buildup, as WWE hopes to make Roman the new face of the company, or in other words, the “next John Cena.” Lesnar, on the other hand, is heading into the last year of his three-year WWE contract and may make more televised and house show appearances in that final stretch. This may point to a longer Universal Championship reign than expected if most WrestleMania 33 spoilers are accurate and Lesnar does end up beating Goldberg for the title.
The move appears to have the support of some of the biggest names in WWE. Wrestling Inc. quoted SmackDown Live announcer John “Bradshaw” Layfield, who believes Reigns does have a lot of John Cena in him. Speaking on the WWE Network show Bring it to the Table, JBL said that he’s actually looking forward to Reigns getting a mix of cheers and boos like Cena does and becoming a similarly huge draw in the business.
“I hope so because John Cena is an absolute rockstar. He’s perhaps the greatest draw in the history of our business and Roman Reigns is exactly the same. I mean, he’s a rockstar. You tell people that and they say, ‘no, no, no, people are standing up because they want to boo him.’ They’re standing up. So if you ask those people who say they’re standing up to boo Roman Reigns because ‘we don’t like him’, ‘okay, would you pay to see Roman Reigns get beat?’ ‘Oh, absolutely! I’d love to see him get beat.’ He’s doing his job because people pay to see him.”
As live audiences have long taken to booing Roman Reigns as a reaction to how heavily WWE is pushing him, there’s a good chance these rumored creative decisions won’t be too popular with many fans. But as Forbes had recently written, Reigns has proven to be popular with more casual audiences, as well as female viewers and children, with his YouTube videos often ranking among WWE’s most-viewed clips.
The above-mentioned WrestleMania 34 spoilers, if you could even call them that, are far from certain, especially with more than a year remaining before the event. But they do suggest that whether fans like it or not, WWE remains intent on continuing, and further building up Roman Reigns’ push as a top babyface, what with John Cena pushing 40 and accepting a growing number of non-wrestling projects.
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