Following his 30-day suspension for violating World Wrestling Entertainment's talent wellness policy, Roman Reigns' brief departure from television has scuppered plans and left a trail of uncertainty and regret. What implications does this have?
While the timing is dreadfully inconvenient, the WWE certainly aren't as feeble as they sometimes seem. Assessing the tricky situation, they will remain thoroughly professional while recreating a plan to make full sense and to moderately gratify the fans.
Make no bones about it, countless plans for the present and future have been scuppered by the former champion. Battleground, on July 24, revolved round the unpredictable, long-awaited and highly-anticipated clash between three former associates of The Shield, now turned rivals. Many relentlessly angled for it, and finally something to legitimately excite the audience came to fruition.
That is the match build-up alone. It is unknown whether WWE will allow Reigns to work the match as his return date is July 21, just three days before the event. Starting from June 21, he misses every terrestrial show leading up to it. Therefore, a gaping hole is left in the story and on the night itself with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins feuding the weeks prior, the match would portray Reigns as a square peg in a round hole.
Subsequently, it seems WWE's best bet could be to reinstate Battleground's main event as a singles match between Dean Ambrose and his longtime rival Seth Rollins for the richest prize in sports entertainment.
Despite previous encounters between the former Shield members, Vince McMahon's options a severely limited right now. With Reigns fully detached from the story and build-up, a sense of awkwardness and lack of fan emotion could be a major problem if he physically competes. That simply isn't a risk worth taking when there is a potential blessing in disguise in the shadows.
By that idea, the best solution is to convert Roman Reigns into a full-blown heel where he can make his return at the end of the title match itself. Perhaps alter his theme song to solidify the turn. A brawny Samoan, out in a suit, sunglasses, evil and ambitious look, targeting his prey.
Further changing his character would be the best outcome out of this, and attacking the winner of the Battleground main event truly solidifies it. Even more so it being Dean Ambrose, his former 'brother' on the main roster as a ruthless assault can emphasise his intentions of becoming the baddest man in the company.
A match previously discussed for WrestleMania 32 but later dashed after Rollins' unfortunate ACL injury, the biggest event of the summer seemed a perfect fit. But with Reigns now potentially being pulled out of Battleground, WWE may choose to wait until SummerSlam to host the blockbuster showdown.
Of course, another option would be WrestleMania 33 but that is an almighty stretch at 9 months and the three-man rivalry of The Shield must be settled at an upcoming pay-per-view, not one next year where it will have lost substantial interest and died down.
A potential idea in Battleground's headlining match, before Reigns' suspension, could have foreseen Triple H himself making his long-awaited return to WWE television after his last appearance in April.
A feud with Seth Rollins seemed natural considering The Authority had closed the door on a reunion with The Architect following the injury he sustained during his successful tenure working with them. A sense of jealously that Rollins, whose title reign stemmed from the backing and consistent support of The Authority, was participating in a match for the title that Triple H recently held.
It's been simmering for over a year, and now could be reluctantly pushed back for later in the year. Presuming that WWE pull the trigger on the triple-threat between Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns, it must happen in the upcoming months after Reigns' suspension at a credible pay-per-view.
Furthermore, a feud of this magnitude requires full attention from all three members to create every ounce of hype and credibility. The fans deserve nothing less.
For Roman Reigns himself, many believed his long-term future was in serious jeopardy after the suspension and how no-nonsense they were in issuing it, but this doesn't necessarily spell trouble for his career overall.
Vince McMahon has invested a lot of money and time in his character, and has often taken a battering for it. The majority of fans grew in frustration as his opportunity grew ever closer, and consistently claimed that even when he became the champion, he wasn't ready to hold such a substantial opportunity.
His moveset seen as limited, a green wrestler, below average cutting promos and lack of charisma sparked outburst as fans ruthlessly let their feelings felt at events with their chants, and on the rare occasion, tried physically assaulting Reigns.
Once McMahon invests, he sticks with it. Don't expect him to enforce a strict punishment in storylines and opportunities for Roman Reigns.
Randy Orton has committed a number of violations against the company's wellness policy and remained an integral factor in the high-end rivalries and matches.
It's a blow to WWE due to the implications it has, but you could even expect Roman Reigns to recapture the title should the triple-threat take place.