Drawing from past criticisms and old heat between the Rhodes/McMahons, the writers have created a feud that has captivated fans and cultivated emotional investment, according to good ole JR. After the kayfabe firing and recent Rhodes family beatdown—not to mention the inconsistent release of a new shirt for a “fired” employee—we now have a tag match at Sunday’s Battleground to decide “permanent” fate of the Rhodes family in the WWE, pitting Cody and Goldust vs. Rollins and Reigns. With the wrestlers involved, the match seems like it’ll be a great one. Cody Rhodes is one of the best young stars on the roster, Seth Rollins is a careful student of the game, and Goldust proved a few weeks ago that he hasn’t lost a step. Beyond these known entities is the man who can make this match and will probably be directly involved in the ending—the Shield’s heavy, Roman Reigns. Pegged to be the breakout star of the group, partly because of his heritage and Vince’s fascination with massive physiques, Roman Reigns has been doing his part recently to live up to the hype, developing into the solid wrestler that could truly be the breakout star of the group.

Reigns glare 2Reigns glareWith Roman Reigns, we are witnessing the maturation of a star before us. Two and a half months ago, Reigns was mostly just a feature in a tag match, whether it was a 4 man or 6 man. Rollins (or Ambrose) does most of the work for Reigns to use a few power moves and eventually execute the spear (with ferocity and swiftness) for the win. Reigns didn’t look as comfortable in the ring as ringrats Ambrose or Reigns, and for a while, the Shield’s tag matches consisted of Rollins carrying the team to hide Reigns’ ring work. That all ended on the September 23rd episode of Raw. With the 11 on 3 elimination match, Roman Reigns displayed the potential that has been talked about by many industry figures. As the Shield’s heavy, he went over a few wrestlers in dominating fashion, looking comfortable in the ring. Then, this past Monday night on Raw he made the 6 man tag match markedly better—which says a lot when you consider who else was involved—showing off powerful counters, ring psychology, and a burgeoning tough guy, trash talking persona that calls to mind classic Hollywood Hogan heel work.  The Ziggler mock-showoff elbow drop was great and the attitude in his demeanor after capturing the pinfall was solid heel work, glaring at the crowd with disdain as if to ask, “Who else?” Reigns was impressive in the 6-man match, seamlessly matching his ring work with the attitude that makes him a good heavy.

Reigns 1We know with Rollins, Rhodes, and Goldust, (and Ambrose’s inevitable involvement) we’ll be getting good wrestling, but with Reigns, we’re watching a wrestler get better, more entertaining, and flesh out his character as he fuses together the different elements necessary to be a good wrestler. Reigns has become smoother, his moveset has expanded, and he looks at home in the ring. As he develops, Reigns even seems to have a more confident air about him in the ring. Facing off against wrestlers with the skill level of Goldust and Cody Rhodes, look for Reigns to continue this upward trend and to have a tremendous night at Battleground.

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