Roman Reigns Is Best in the World, More Hot Takes from WWE Money in the Bank
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The 2021 Money in the Bank pay-per-view is in the rear-view mirror and in its wake, it has left very real discussion to be had about the current state of some of the night’s top performers, beginning with reigning Universal champion Roman Reigns.
On a show so historically associated with CM Punk, it was The Head of the Table that announced loudly and clearly to the WWE Universe that he is the best in the world.
How and why is that loaded label placed on a guy once rejected by fans for being unprepared for the top spot in the company?
Who else earned attention following the blockbuster event, the first of its kind in front of a live audience since pre-COVID-19 pandemic?
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Roman Reigns is the best professional wrestler in the world.
That may sound like a loaded statement guaranteed to infuriate the AEW faithful who prop Kenny Omega up like the next coming of Ric Flair, or the ardent Reigns detractors who still tout his family name as the reason for his success, but it is time to acknowledge The Head of the Table for what he is: the measuring stick.
Over the last year, we know Reigns has crafted a character that has become the best thing about WWE’s product. He is engaging, believable and most importantly invested in what he is doing and it shows every week on Fox.
What he does not get enough credit for is participating in the best match of nearly every WWE pay-per-view since returning last August. Under his heel persona, he has found himself as a worker. He was always very good but his command of the story and ability to convey it to the audience is what sets him apart from everyone else right now.
He is a badass powerhouse who can toss the opposition around the ring effortlessly or he can sail through the air and rock them with his trademark Superman Punch. Moves are only a small part of what makes a performer great, though. In an industry where everyone can throw multiple variations of a suplex or fly through the air with ease, it is the ability to tell a story and get the audience invested in it that elevates a performer.
He has done just that, dating back to the start of the storyline with Jey Uso last fall and right on through the PPV schedule. Whether he is working with inexperienced main event stars like Uso or Cesaro, former world champions like Daniel Bryan and his opponent Sunday night, Edge, he always manages to steal the show.
Which makes him something else: the best big-match performer WWE has.
There is a reason he is the main event. There’s a reason he gets one of the loudest reactions on the show. Fans care about him, both from a character standpoint and as a worker. He has forced them too, delivering the best work of his entire career.
He stands above everyone else at this point because of his ability to not only execute, but to get fans to genuinely care beyond popping for a big move or spot, a trait that is wholly underrated and undervalued in today’s wrestling landscape.
He has it in spades and the product, and his work specifically, will continue to benefit as a result.
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Nikki Cross (or A.S.H, as she is known today) is a wrestler whose talent has never been in doubt. Since her arrival in NXT in 2016 as part of Sanity, she has been a skilled in-ring performer. From a character standpoint, she had the rare ability to take whatever lackluster creative was thrown at her and make the most of it. We saw as much during her run with Alexa Bliss as tag champions.
As good as she is and as wonderful as it was to see someone who has worked so hard retrieve the briefcase Sunday night, one cannot help but think it is entirely too early in the existence of her superhero persona to pull the proverbial trigger on a women’s title reign.
The crowd in Fort Worth, Texas was not nearly as responsive or accepting of the performer when she entered the arena for the night’s opening match. She soared through the air, took a few big bumps and emerged late to win the briefcase, but the outcome failed to net the type of response you would expect from an underdog, first-time winner.
There is plenty of time for the company to build Cross up in front of live audiences. She has the personality that will win the crowd over. Too much, too soon though could alienate an audience that is notoriously hostile when it feels like it is having a star forced on it.
The best option would have been to allow Nikki to build up goodwill and sympathy throughout the match, only to have one of the heels yank her opportunity away from her at the last second. Instead, she picked up the win and now has an uphill battle in front of her, not only to prove she’s worthy of the title shot but more importantly, to get her new persona over with a skeptical audience.
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The Queen is back on her throne following Charlotte Flair’s submission victory over Rhea Ripley Sunday night for the Raw Women’s Championship and for the first time in a long time, it feels like the right call.
Yes, Ripley probably should have had a longer run with the title but WWE Creative’s inconsistency with her character, including an inability to even decide if she was a heel or babyface, undermined her from the start.
Flair winning the title back allows WWE to do some damage control with Ripley, building her into the character it wants her to be while having a centerpiece in Flair around whom to build its women’s division.
With Becky Lynch on her way back, and babyface Nikki A.S.H. possessing the Money in the Bank briefcase, Raw benefits from a heel champion that can combat both of them. That she just happens to be the most talented and gifted worker on that women’s roster only enhances why she is absolutely the right to choice to hold that title.
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