An outstanding Intercontinental Title run for the Miz was brought to a halt by none other than Roman Reigns on the most recent edition of Monday Night Raw.
He’s been on fire for quite some time now, both inside and outside the WWE ring. From his spots on ESPN and MTV to appearing on Total Divas, the A-Lister has lived up to every bit of that moniker over the last several months. With Brock Lesnar relegated to bouncing up and down while Paul Heyman cuts his promos instead of wrestling on regular television, the IC Title has essentially been Raw’s top strap since the Beast took the Universal Title off of Goldberg at WrestleMania 33.
It’s tough to think of a time when the Intercontinental Title has felt more important, and it’s difficult to come up with a time that Reigns has been this close to getting over with fans over the age of 12 on live TV. For these reasons — and the fact that Miz needed time off to shoot the Marine 6 — it made a lot of sense for the WWE to give the Big Dog a run with the title.
It’s no secret that Vince McMahon is a Roman Reigns fan. This is more or less the reason he can’t get over no matter what he does. Yet despite chants such as “you still suck” raining down on Reigns during his match against the Miz, there were positive reactions to all of his usual spots for the second consecutive week.
This is what rolling with over acts like Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose can get you, and it doesn’t hurt that The Shield tickles a bit of the nostalgia bone as well. What is making this work is that it doesn’t feel like Ambrose and Rollins simply hanging around to give Reigns rubs.
It feels like it used to, with the three cracking jokes in the ring and not caring about who is standing right in front of them. It was in this atmosphere that McMahon first viewed Reigns as a generational superstar in the making, so it’s not too surprising that the reunion has worked so far.
Creative also made a wise choice by keeping Reigns out of the Universal Title picture for so long. He hasn’t held that title since June of 2016, and while he did have a 100-plus day run with the United States Championship, he’s been kept away from the likes of Lesnar and Goldberg at the top of the card.
This is a sneaky way for the WWE to give Reigns the top belt on the red brand without actually having to do so. On paper, Lesnar is still The Guy, as he holds the Universal Title. But he never defends that strap during Raw, and we might not see him involved in an actual match for another few months.
That makes Reigns the top champion on Monday Nights… without it feeling like he’s being crammed down our throats with the actual No. 1 belt. The psychology is tricky, and it may or may not work. We haven’t seen how Reigns will be received as the IC champion just yet, but rolling with Ambrose and Rollins — who may also win belts of their own soon — 90 percent of the time should keep most of the heat off of him.
The writing seems to be on the wall for a Reigns/Lesnar showdown at WrestleMania this year. Love that idea or hate it, that’s a match that has been rumored for months and hasn’t gone away. Giving Reigns a strong run with the Intercontinental Title while the Miz it off the show makes a lot of sense as we build up towards that clash of the Titans.