In an unexpected twist of fate, Roman Reigns was suspended this week for his breach of the WWE Wellness Policy. Yes, “The Guy” was caught being a bad guy instead of being a good guy and will be out of action for the next month. Apparently, Roman had failed a drug test prior to Money in the Bank. But instead of vacating the title, Roman dropped the championship to Seth Rollins, who was then quickly defeated by the very brief briefcase holder, Dean Ambrose. It was a fun little exchange, having each member of the Shield hold the title in the same night.
Since WWE knew of Roman’s violation before the event, and before Monday’s Raw, it’s curious that they would allow a Shield triple threat match to be the main event at Battleground. Reigns will have a nice 30-day vacation before walking into Battleground all bright eyed and bushy tailed. In a kayfabe sense, Roman’s suspension gives him an advantage against Rollins and Ambrose, who will no doubt be in competition leading up to their title match. What kind of message does that send to kids??
Oh, sure. Just tell the WWE universe youngins that if they’re caught smoking pot they’ll get a month off from school while you’re at it! However, we’re not sure what Roman did to earn his suspension. It would seem to be pretty minor, since he’ll remain in the Championship main event. Maybe smoking a little weed...maybe chewing gum in class. Who knows. Anything to elicit the slap on the wrist that he received couldn’t have been too bad. Rob Van Dam wasn’t afforded the same luxury of dropping the belt with dignity when he was busted fish bowling his car with Sabu.
It’s not surprising to think that Roman Reigns is being given some preferential treatment. So much has been invested in his push that suspending him for any longer would not be beneficial for WWE, regardless of how unpopular he is with much of the audience. Roman even tweeted out a very humble apology and WWE painted his suspension in a sympathetic light.
Roman Reigns: “Sorry about that, man.”
WWE: “No worries, bro. Take some time off. You do you.”
That’s at least how the exchange came across. Depending on who you ask (*cough* CM Punk *cough*), the Wellness Program can be a bit of a joke. Regular steroid testing for pro wrestlers can’t be taken too seriously, but it’s more of a precaution taken in the wake of so many wrestler deaths. Drug testing is a good way to prevent these incidents and even better for PR. In only a few short years, WWE has converted the image of Sports Entertainment from being a medieval bloodbath with sleazy undertones, into an ESPN-friendly, and therefore Disney-friendly product for the whole family to enjoy.
It wasn’t so long ago that wrestlers lived like rock stars; their lives rich with sex, drugs, blood, sweat, and tears. It was part of the lifestyle of being on the road 300+ days per year. The way the old timers make it sound, there could be no greater experience as a wrestler than doing cocaine off of a ring rat. And it’s fun to look back on the wheelin’ and dealin’ Ric Flair stories and tales of drunken shoot matches on a transAtlantic flight, but we also want our athletes to stay alive. Not only are the present day WWE Superstars living and breathing, but they’re far more athletic. The performances in the ring have never been better, and that is partly due to the success of the Wellness Program. Sometimes you just have to sacrifice seedy backstage hijinks for health.
Roman Reigns’ suspension of disbelief was shocking in the best way. It may even lead to the inevitable heel turn that he so desperately needs. Right now, his character is in limbo and he needs to embrace the hate, as Kane would say. This triple threat match needed something, like Reigns doing something naughty, to keep the Shield dynamic engaging. Ambrose is the wild card face. Rollins is the cool heel. And now Reigns, instead of being a stagnant tweener, can return as a disgraced bad boy with something to prove. In the long run, Roman’s career will not be affected by this hurdle. If anything, it should serve as promo fuel for his future rivals.
If Roman Reigns hadn’t gotten himself into trouble, we may not have had that memorable Money in the Bank moment of Ambrose cashing in on Rollins, nor would they have allowed Rollins to go over on Reigns in a clean win...possibly. Whether or not those plans diverted greatly from the original finish based on Roman’s delinquency is up for speculation. This misstep is beneficial for Roman’s image, ironically, as it doesn’t make him look quite as coddled by the company, as much as he is still being protected. The Hound of Justice was served, but he may be able to look back on this hiccup in his career as a very happy accident.