Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns are two totally different people compared to who they were in the times they previously crossed paths, now the Prizefighter and the Tribal Chief. Reigns had been a dominant force and the muscle of The Shield, Owens was a slave to the Judas in his mind, as he turned on countless people in his past.
Two different men with two different stories, both coming to terms with who they now are, building to one crucial match for the Universal Championship.
In the past Roman Reigns was a superhero, yet also an underdog – not against his opponents, but rather against the booking and, in turn, the wrestling fans who had turned against him. Fans despised the fact that Roman Reigns was portrayed as an underdog, when he was anything but.
That is until Roman Reigns’ return at SummerSlam. Attacking “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman, Reigns would go on to face them at Payback and win the Universal title after pinning Strowman, aligning himself with Paul Heyman along the way.
A new, reinvigorated Roman Reigns then began the most dominant run he has been on for quite some time. His promos were leaps and bounds above the sufferin’ succotash of years past. Gone were the days where Baron Corbin smothered his head with dog food and here to stay was the brooding Tribal Chief. Finally, we have the Roman Reigns we have always wanted! A ruthless killer, Roman Reigns was here to wreck everyone and leave. Having defended his title against Braun Strowman on an episode of SmackDown, Roman’s intense fire would burn brighter, the fuel being that of his cousin, Jey Uso, in a personal, emotional feud.
Jey Uso spent most of his time before Roman’s return floating around aimlessly while his tag partner and brother Jimmy had been placed out of action. So, when cousin Roman came back and reclaimed the title that he never lost in the first place, Jey was ecstatic. Who could blame him? It’s great seeing family do better for themselves. But the brooding Roman, while loving his family, wasn’t as warm as before, going so far as to stare daggers at Jey behind his back for having the nerve to touch the champion’s belt.
The Tribal Chief declared that Jey wasn’t ready for the belt, and though he may be good, he isn’t on Roman’s level. It is Roman’s duty to the family to be the champion and the face of WWE. He is the Head of the Table.
Coming to the ring adorned in red lei that was symbolic to his family’s culture, the underdog Uso would find out the hard way that Roman outclasses at Clash of Champions, where no matter how hard he came at Reigns, he couldn’t topple the champion.
To rub salt in the wound, Roman ordered Jey to declare him as the Tribal Chief and the Head of the Table, which Jey refused to do. As Roman beat Jey senseless, his brother Jimmy arrived and interjected, throwing in the towel for his brother, much to his protests. While Jimmy checked on his fallen brother, Roman held his belt high, as Paul Heyman rested Jey’s red lei upon Roman’s shoulders.
The feud would then be ended at Hell in a Cell, in the main event titular match. An “I Quit” match, the battle was hard-fought, as these two veterans struggled against each other. Once again, Jimmy appeared in an effort to appeal to his cousin, and it looked to be working, – fantastic emotion and character character work by Roman – but the champ turned the tables and snatched Jimmy into a hold, forcing Jey to cry out: “I quit!”
Jey eventually saw the reasoning and logic Roman was operating by and finally joined him at the table. With this beef squashed, Roman and Jey proceeded to run SmackDown, with nobody wanting to respect them. Who wants to look up to a bully or a man who can’t think for himself?
Such disrespect was to the disadvantage of Jey Uso, experiencing what Roman had felt all these years: no matter what you do to get the job done, there will be those that won’t respect you. So, the hungry Uso tried to prove himself in aiding Roman against Drew McIntyre at Survivor Series, but failed. The same could be said about the upcoming bout the Universal Champ has with Kevin Owens.
Finally, Kevin Owens, has something substantial to do. It’s been clear after he came back from injury in 2019, that Owens’ character needed time away with family, time to learn that he doesn’t need to be turning against everyone whenever they grow close to him.
No matter how many times he would screw someone over to get to the top, he could never stay at the summit. Self-reflection was needed, and it seemed to have worked when he aligned himself with The New Day and started feuding with Daniel Bryan during the rise of KofiMania, but he wasn’t able to defeat Kingston for the title. This brought out Owens’s old demons, but even then, he still couldn’t steal the title from Kingston.
Once again Kevin found himself alone and drifting, until the overwhelming presence of Shane McMahon’s casted its dark shadow upon Kevin Owens, and soon Owens found himself clashing with Shane O’Mac. It happily culminated on the October 4th episode of SmackDown, Owens taking out Shane in a ladder match, where the stipulation was that the loser be fired from WWE.
After being drafted to RAW, Owens had a one-night return to NXT at the 2019 Wargames pay-per-view, and soon after found himself feuding with Seth Rollins. After Kevin rid himself of the “Monday Night Messiah” at WrestleMania 36, it didn’t seem as though Owens had anything to do.
Aside from a few brief feuds, it was time for another draft – where Owens was placed back on SmackDown. While the changes (if any) aren’t apparent, it feels as though Owens may be becoming the Prizefighter again, evident in his showing of complete and utter disrespect to Roman Reigns and Jey Uso.
Kevin has found himself, and he is done with the bullying, having been a bully himself for so long. Maybe it’s time Kevin takes the title from Roman Reigns, be it at TLC, or somewhere down the line.
Regardless, this is one of the best storylines going on in WWE right now. Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns have been bringing out the best in each other in their promos, and hopefully they will continue to elevate each other. Kevin is always captivating to watch when given a great story, and Roman has been chock-full of great stories since his return.
Will the Tribal Chief prove he is THE guy to hold the Universal Title, or will the chants of “Fight Owens, Fight!” propel the Prizefighter to win the title he had lost long ago?