At Payback 2016, Roman Reigns wrestled arguably his best match in WWE since splitting from The Shield two years ago. Compared to his slow and lethargic WWE title match against HHH at Wrestlemania 32, this match was a perfect pace for him. A lot of the credit will rightfully go to AJ Styles. He sold Roman's offence very well and was able to put on a steller bout with Reigns, arguably the best match in WWE of the year so far (Excluding that stellar matchup between Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura of course). Despite this many fans, including myself, are still very sceptical about Reigns. It's pretty much a guarantee that Reigns will continue to have a long title run and will beat pretty much anyone put in front of him. It's even been rumoured that Roman will be the one to pin Brock Lesnar for the first time in years which will not go down well at all. So how can WWE fix this?
With fans still continuing to reject Roman Reigns and his inevitable rise to the top of WWE, does the answer to his success lie elsewhere?
Simply put, they need to focus on their other championships. Right now the United States and Intercontinental titles mean very little. Kalisto has barely done anything noteworthy with the US title and has even been relegated to the pre-show while the IC title has become something of a hot potato. We've had three different IC champions since February. If a title is changing hands on a regular basis like that then people won't take it seriously, especially when booked in mediocre story lines which is all WWE creative seem to be able to come up with right now.
To give you the best example of the impact a secondary title can have I will take you abroad to the strong style promotion of New Japan Pro Wrestling. The IWGP Intercontinental title is seen very much as prestigious prize in Japanese wrestling, despite the fact that the promotions equivilent of the WWE World Heavyweight title is the IWGP Heavyweight title. The reasons behind why the title is so prestigious are so simple. The matches that were put on between competitors wrestling for the title were excellent and the champions themselves were always given a respectable time to reign with it. If you don't believe me, take a look at this table below.
The recent match for the IWGP Intercontinental title at Wrestle Kingdom 10 also illustrates my point very well. At the most recent Wrestle Kingdom event (NJPW's version of Wrestlemania) AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura, both now in WWE, wrestled in a 24 minute match which instantly became one of my favourite matches that I've ever seen. If you haven't seen it I suggest you do so. The match was a classic and was only overshadowed by the IWGP Heavyweight title match.
Back to WWE and when was the last time you saw two people put on a 25 minute match on PPV for the US or IC championship? John Cena did some stellar work on RAW with the US open challenge but we still never really saw a big PPV match for the US title. When John Cena returns on May 30th he should be immediately injected back into the US title picture again. Having him take a run at Roman Reigns will accomplish nothing at this juncture. If someone with as much star power as Cena is going after the US title then it will instantly become something to pay attention to.
AJ Styles should be part of the argument as well. Despite the fact that he does indeed have a rematch for the WWE title at Extreme Rules the chances of him walking out as champion are the same as they were at Payback which is very slim. So where does he go after that? The argument for Cena applies to Styles as well. Imagine if we saw John Cena and AJ Styles duke it out for 25 minutes at Summerslam for the US championship.
So why does all this help Roman Reigns? Simple. If competitors like Styles, Cesaro and Cena are putting on stellar matches for other championships then the focus begins to shift away from Reigns. Hardcore wrestling fans won't care as much about what Roman Reigns is doing and instead can focus on excellent wrestling matchups. There doesn't even need to be much of a story behind any rivalry for these titles, they can simply be about two guys wanting to prove that they are better than the other.
Imagine if somehow I managed to predict the future and Styles does face Cena for the US title while Roman Reigns faces someone like Lesnar or Rollins for the WWE title at Summerslam. Styles and Cena would undoubtedly put on a great match. Rollins and Lesnar would also put on a great match with Reigns but the point is people would not be as annoyed with the fact that Roman Reigns would end the night as WWE champion if they see matches like AJ Styles vs John Cena happening on a regular basis. This all also means that Reigns can develop his character while the fans still get entertaining wrestling matches to take their minds of it. The answers for WWE are right in front of them, they simply need to realise it.