The hype and spin machine is in full effect here, as the roundtable of former WWE writer and Wing Commander Freddie Prinze, Jr., JBL, Johnny Gargano, Kevin Owens, and Renee Paquette, along with other recorded guests, promote Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar as having had an all-time great feud. If, to paraphrase Judas Priest, a thousand spears and a million F-5’s make for a great rivalry, then this must indeed be a top-tier rivalry.
We start with a lot of hype for Brock Lesnar from Johnny Gargano, Edge, Seth Rollins and the like. Edge suggests that Lesnar would have worked in any era, while Pat McAfee goes further and says that Lesnar is his pick to fight aliens in a one-on-one battle on behalf of the planet Earth. Paquette and Sam Roberts take some time to talk about how important Paul Heyman was to Lesnar’s success.
The next segment talks up Roman Reigns, from his extensive wrestling family and early aspirations to become a champion. Heyman talks about meeting Reigns at three years old and knowing that Reigns had something. That seems a bit of a stretch, but Heyman’s nothing if not a great promoter.
There’s a little time spent on the 2015 Royal Rumble, where a victorious Roman Reigns was booed out of the building, but congratulated backstage by Michael Hayes for keeping his cool in his moment. Reigns challenges Lesnar for the championship at WrestleMania 31, unsuccessfully, but Sam Roberts says that everyone knew in the backs of their minds that Reigns and Lesnar were destined to meet again. Not sure about that, Sam.
Reigns has another unsuccessful shot at taking the title from Brock at WrestleMania 33, with Reigns breaking down afterwards while talking about how physical the encounter was. With yet another opportunity in that year’s SummerSlam, Reigns finally beats Brock, takes the Universal Championship and, so we thought, brought the business between himself and Lesnar to an end.
Just a couple of months later, though, Reigns is forced to vacate the title to undergo treatment for his longstanding fight against leukemia. In no way offering this as a dismissive statement, presenting the fight between Reigns and leukemia is a vastly more interesting and uplifting story than that of Reigns versus Lesnar.
Skipping past the pandemic times of the WWE, we’re sold on the great return of Roman Reigns as a heel, with Heyman saying that he went from the best of his generation to the greatest of all time. Slow down, Paul, and imagine if they’d actually taken the time to show Reigns’ heel turn and joining with Heyman happen over time on TV rather than simply be activated during his time off.
Speaking of time off, Lesnar returns at SummerSlam, having used his to grow a bronytail and beard. With both Lesnar and Reigns ending up holding main titles, Lesnar and Reigns fight in a title unification match at WrestleMania 38, where Reigns extends his winning streak to take both titles for himself. There’s one more chapter at SummerSlam that year where Lesnar wrecks the ring with a tractor, but Reigns beats him again to continue his lengthy run as champ.
And that’s it for this week’s Rivals, with what amounted to an extended promo-package for a Reigns and Lesnar match. Kevin Owens had but one line, Gargano a couple of things to say, and Paquette and JBL talked more than either of them and still much less than Prinze, Jr. This was an episode that truly felt like a stretch to begin with, given that Lesnar VS. Reigns has only ever given us one great match (and that was because of Seth Rollins), and that’s exactly how it played out.
- Slam Wrestling’s Roman Reigns story archive
- Slam Wrestling’s Brock Lesnar story archive
- Slam Wrestling’s WWE on A&E archive