After Roman Reigns failed the Wellness Policy, he dropped the WWE World Heavyweight Championship to Seth Rollins at Money In The Bank, and then subsequently was suspended the next day for 30 days.
When he came back, he got pinned two nights in a row: first to Dean Ambrose at Battleground, then to a debuting Finn Balor the next night on Raw.
It was then reported that WWE were done pushing Reigns as the top guy for the “time being”. It looks like those words were written correctly, as the “time being” may just be for 3 more months.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter stated that WWE are planning to have Reigns back in the Universal title picture by Royal Rumble.
The reason they put him in a feud with Rusev was for the US title was because Rusev is supposedly one of the most hated heels, plus the USA vs Bulgaria sentiment. They also gave Reigns a midcard push giving him the US Championship.
However, the issue with this feud is that the fans have still not taken the bait, and continue to boo Reigns while cheering for the villainous Rusev.
WWE want to give Reigns a gradual midcard push so that when they push him back to the main event picture again, he won’t be rejected as he has been since last year. If he does get back in the picture, then he will surely lose the United States Championship before the end of the year. Meltzer said:
“Yes, [he’ll be out of the Universal Title mix] until Royal Rumble time, if not longer. I know the idea was to keep Roman Reigns out of the world title picture for a while. So, it’s another way of getting the people to like him, and I guess feuding with Rusev is the one way because of the American going against the Russian.
He’s still their guy, but they know they can’t pull the trigger right now.”
This is the very same thing that happened last year. After Wrestlemania 31, he got involved in a feud with Big Show, and then from June to October he had a good feud with Bray Wyatt that culminated in a Hell In A Cell match.
After that feud, Reigns was inserted back into the title picture. He was cheered for the remainder of 2015, but Royal Rumble 2016 onwards, he began getting rejected again. Will WWE try the same thing the third time around?