The big news in professional wrestling right now is all about Roman Reigns. On Saturday, at a WWE non-televised event in Trenton, New Jersey, Roman’s uncharacteristic post-match promo sparked retirement rumors.
“I’ve been here a couple of times in the past 10 years.” Reigns said. “I’m starting to work into a new phase in my career, and I honestly don’t know if I’ll be back here again. If that’s the case, I just want to say thank you for all these years of support.”
Reigns added more fuel to the speculative fire on Instagram following The Bloodline’s victory over Drew McIntyre, Riddle, & Randy Orton on Sunday at WrestleMania Backlash.
“What’s in my brain already..what if that is the last six-man tag you ever see The Bloodline do? I believe when it comes to TV and it being broadcast for the entire world to see, that’s only the second one.
Well, it looks like the mystery has been solved. Dave Meltzer reported that the WWE Undisputed Universal Champion signed a new contract that stipulates Reigns to work fewer dates. If WWE’s website is accurate, Reigns new deal kicks in following the 6/19 live event in Billings, MT.
Besides Money in the Bank on July 2 and SummerSlam on 7/30 (Yes, it’s in July this year), Reigns is taking the summer off. Rumors are running rampant that 36 year old is either doing a movie or wants to spend more time with his young children.
Hulk Hogan, John Cena, and others got such a contract after many years on top. Now, it’s Roman Reigns’ time to reap the benefits of his success and earn more money as a part-timer, a term that makes diehard fans shake their fist in the air like Grandpa Simpson.
Reigns wrestled and trained in FCW/NXT for 15 months before his nearly 10-year run on the main roster. Despite being jeered more than cheered, WWE stuck with Reigns from the moment his trek to the top began in October 2014.
Things changed when Reigns debuted his “Tribal Chief” persona in late summer 2020, which gave the fans a character they could get behind. WWE’s six-year struggle finally paid off, and they are not about to let that go. Hence, Reigns’ new deal.
So what does WWE do with the two world titles?
Will Reigns drop the WWE Championship and the Universal Championship, or will they allow him to keep one or both belts? The idea of Reigns keeping either title while being gone for 10 weeks is preposterous to a lot of people. However, it’s happened before.
Brock Lesnar only wrestled 17 times during his 503-day Universal Title run (2017-2018). Some didn’t like Lesnar holding the championship for so long while wrestling so few matches. Lesnar only works a handful of dates a year, which is the type of contract reserved only for stars of the highest magnitude.
A section of the audience will detest the idea of a summer with no world champion. It’s easy to understand; however, If WrestleMania Backlash was any indication, no one on the roster is ready to go over on Roman Reigns. It was the same in 2017-2018 during Lesnar’s title run.
Right now, all eyes are on Cody Rhodes as a potential suitor to the throne. Rhodes’s popularity hasn’t let up since his return at WrestleMania. Unlike most wrestlers on the roster, he has an established narrative; to win the one title that eluded his father, the WWE Championship.
Has he built up enough credibility to win the title now? No.
Hot shotting the belt on Rhodes because of Roman’s summer vacation will come off as hollow. The audience will see right through it because they want the moment Rhodes wins the big one to feel earned. Besides, Reigns is confirmed for the two significant events of the summer, Money in the Bank and SummerSlam.
However, to play devil’s advocate, it wouldn’t be the worst thing if Reigns lost the WWE Title. After all, he hasn’t held it that long; and as far as his legacy goes, it’s not the belt that matters. It’s the Universal Championship that matters.
Roman Reigns has earned his new contract, and WWE should keep both titles on him for the foreseeable future. Forget trying to rehab the U.S. title or the IC title. Keep Rhodes undefeated, heat up McIntyre for his Clash at the Castle homecoming, and remember, Brock Lesnar will remerge this summer.
Let the Tribal Chief enjoy his summer break. The sky is not falling. We’re going to be alright.