BROOKLYN — For a change, Roman Reigns walking up the ramp victorious wasn’t a total show-killer. And it was kind of weird.
Heading into the SummerSlam main event, I’d say everyone was bracing themselves to be very mad. Mentions of the now four-time heavyweight champion were greeted with relentless boos all night. He took his slow walk to the ring as Brooklyn heckled him. This had the feel of countless pay-per-views of the past where a Reigns main event would lead to a mass walk-out, and a win would lead the remaining fans on hand to express their displeasure with WWE creative.
Yet, in a somewhat odd scene, no one totally freaked out when he finally regained the Universal Title by pinning Brock Lesnar. Perhaps it was the sudden nature of the win, the looming Money In The Bank contract holder Braun Strowman, or the fact that the rest of the show seemed to really please the crowd, but on this night cheers legitimately overtook boos. The same fans who were chanting “You both suck!” during were left captivated by the swerve that had just taken place. Everything happened so suddenly; Strowman—the man who many in the crowd hoped would save the match—was eliminated from the title picture in about 30 or 40 seconds, and then Roman won the match with a spear a moment later.
This might be a good blueprint for WWE in their Reigns matches, as it turns out. The reason this seemed to work is because the match wasn’t dragged out too far and it involved perhaps the most over wrestler in the entire company in Strowman. The shock of the title change happening so suddenly seemed to make it impossible to make a judgement on how they felt in the moment. They might not necessarily be happy with the decision to put the belt on Reigns—and I suspect we will see an angry crowd on Monday—but creative played this just about as well as they could have in the moment. Now it’s time to have Reigns and Strowman feud again, which was probably the most interesting program Reigns has been involved in over the past few years. Those two bring the best out of each other, and the crowd will surely eat it up if Braun gets his first title by defeating Roman.
All in all, Roman won the belt and it didn’t ruin the show (which was good!) even though it very well could have. That’s an upset.