While Roman Reigns’ entry into the 2017 Royal Rumble as the final entrant surprised and infuriated many people, the WWE had a strategic plan in place for the Samoan Superman.
According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via Wrestling Inc), WWE was looking to generate as strong a reaction to Randy Orton’s victory as possible. Despite Orton currently being a heel (bad guy) on television, WWE wanted the strongst babyface reaction possible. While Reigns has been booked as a babyface (fan favorite), he has been booed vigorously over the past few years and anybody opposing him is usually cheered.
Also, Reigns’ entry into the match was designed to set up a program with The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 33. After eliminating The Deadman from the match, Reigns seems like the all-but-confirmed opponent.
While fans expected a big surprise with the No. 30 entrant — possibly a returning Finn Balor or debut of Kenny Omega — Reigns provided a bit of a letdown. However, one person who enjoyed the decision was WWE Hall of Famer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
On the latest edition of his podcast, The Steve Austin Show, Austin made sense of Reigns entering the Rumble and purpose he served in the match.
“Everything made sense for me, so I enjoyed the s–t out of it,” Austin said of Reigns entering the match as the final entrant (h/t Wrestling Inc.). “A lot of people s**t on Roman Reigns in the 30 spot. I popped because I’m thinking, ‘dude, here’s the setup, guys. Something’s up.’ And then, [Chris] Jericho gets out, so there’s the three [remaining entrants, Reigns, Randy Orton, and Bray Wyatt], so you got two heels and a baby. You know it’s going to be a double-team. You know Roman Reigns is somehow going to defeat two heels again and he’s going to win the f***ing Rumble. Setup.”
Austin’s prediction turned out correct. Reigns eliminated Wyatt from the match and hit Orton with his signature moves before falling victim to the RKO and being eliminated. With the elimination, Reigns failed to win his second career Royal Rumble match while Orton joined Shawn Michaels, Austin, Triple H, Batista and John Cena as the only men to win multiple Rumble matches.
“I smelled a rat from the beginning and I just couldn’t believe what I was going to end up seeing,” Austin added. “He goes to charge Randy Orton, spear, and, of course, Randy Orton connects with an RKO. Boom. Over the top rope. Randy wins. I thought Roman Reigns in the 30 spot was a fantastic idea and great booking.”
Now, the direction is focused on Wrestlemania 33 and Reigns’ likely fight against The Undertaker. As the Inquisitr reported last week, the premise of a match between Reigns and The Undertaker is a “passing of the torch.” A match between the two men is a vision of Vince McMahon and with The Undertaker’s health in a constant state of deterioration, the window to set up the bout is limited.
However, last week, WWE’s official website issued a poll asking fans whom they want The Undertaker to face at the event. John Cena was the clear favorite with 35 percent of the vote, while AJ Styles (24 percent) and Goldberg (13 percent) ranked second and third on the list. Reigns — at one point tied with the “other” category for seven percent of the fan vote — currently sits at nine percent.
While Reigns is currently battling Braun Strowman — the man who cost Reigns the WWE Universal Championship against Kevin Owens at the Royal Rumble — on RAW, it’s only a matter of time until Wrestlemania 33 storylines are in full effect.
[Featured Image by WWE]