There was a little more anticipation for the beginning of Monday Night RAW than usual this week. Roman Reigns had been suspended for violating the WWE Talent Wellness Policy, but plans remain in place for him to compete in the triple threat main event at Battleground against Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. To the surprise of many, and unlike many cases in the past, WWE decided to address the elephant in the room right off the bat.
Rollins did the honors by calling out Reigns' indiscretion first, with Stephanie McMahon chiming in later in the segment. Oddly enough, both Seth and Stephanie called it an embarrassment, echoing Jim Ross' remarks from over the weekend. Fortunately, by addressing the suspension early, they were able to transition from Reigns to the night's storylines. Shane McMahon's absence allowed Stephanie to run the show, and the spotlight shifted to how the main event might change with Reigns unable to appear during the build-up.
Outside of Shane no-showing and Stephanie assuming full control for a night, the most interesting McMahon in regards to the whole Reigns fiasco backstage is Vince. Last week, the Inquisitr reported that many WWE superstars had some resentment towards the way McMahon and other WWE officials were handling the Reigns' suspension, going so far as to say that Roman was a "teacher's pet." And today's news will likely not do Reigns any more favors in that department.
According to Ringside News, Vince McMahon wanted to sweep Roman Reigns' failed drug test under the rug and almost pretend it never happened entirely. This potentially explains why the decision was made to keep Reigns in the three-way at Battleground, even though there's plenty of time to reverse course and an easy backup match to fall back on. As previously reported, McMahon and other top officials knew of Reigns' violation even before his Money in the Bank main event, but it's easier to forgive the call to keep him in that match as they may not have had any other choice.
Covering up the violation entirely is a lot less forgivable as news of the failed test becoming public and forcing McMahon's hand. Originally, Vince's plan was to punish Reigns only by booking him to lose clean to Seth Rollins last Sunday, ostensibly ending his title reign. The decision was made to have Ambrose cash-in his Money in the Bank contract late, so it's entirely possible they went that direction after they decided they'd have to take Reigns off television for the full 30 days. Had McMahon been able to keep the violation a secret and not suspended Roman, there's also the chance that Rollins would have walked out of the pay-per-view as the champion. But if the plan was to move forward with the Shield triple threat, giving Ambrose the belt might have been their best course of action.
There have been conflicting reports over the last couple months about how Vince truly feels about Roman Reigns. McMahon and Triple H both pushed hard for Hunter to put Reigns over as much as possible leading up to the WrestleMania main event. There was enough backlash to make McMahon think about reconsidering who would occupy his company's top spot, but today's news seems to indicate that he still has high hopes for "The Guy." That, or he was simply hellbent on booking the main event we're finally getting at Battleground.
The Wellness Policy, which has been questioned on many occasions for its legitimacy, has been put to the test in 2016. Reigns is the third superstar to endure a suspension this year alone and by far the biggest name. Adam Rose and Konnor from The Ascension were suspended on the same day back in April for their second violations. Reigns will end up missing the much-anticipated WWE Draft on the first live Tuesday edition of Smackdown, as his first match back on TV will come at Battleground.
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