WWE Superstar Roman Reigns is currently in an interesting position on the roster. Since losing against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 34, The Big Dog has been utilised in a lesser role on WWE television.
The backlash that the former Shield member faced over the past couple of years from live crowds was rampant. Reigns was victim to coincidental timing and the rise of fellow WWE Superstar, Daniel Bryan. Even though this happened years ago there is still an uneasy feeling every time Reigns is featured in a somewhat prominent spot on the card, will the crowd take to him or vehemently boo him out of the building?
With WWE looking to gain traction for the SmackDown brand, likely, Reigns will once again be placed near the top of the card on Friday nights. The Big Dog is one of the top performers on the Blue Brand and it is clear that the FOX Network see him as a top draw, especially with such a large chunk of their marketing for the 'new home' of SmackDown being centred around Reigns.
Reigns has seemingly always been targeted as one of the top Superstars in the company, especially with John Cena now taking a more part-time role.
Attempts to truly cement Reigns as the top draw of the company have fallen flat thus far, but there is still an opportunity to build some momentum for The Big Dog on FOX Network.
The question now is how will WWE look to book Reigns heading into 2020? With the WWE Draft recently taking place and a (somewhat) promise that Superstars will stick to their respective brands who does Reigns have to face on SmackDown?
Looking at the landscape of the Blue Brand and where the Superstars have ended up I look to highlight exactly who Roman can feud with heading into 2020.
#5 Shinsuke Nakamura
The reigning WWE Intercontinental Champion, Shinsuke Nakamura, has already stood across the ring from Reigns this month, but, there is an opportunity here for a lengthy program.
Slotting Reigns into an Intercontinental Championship feud might seem a bit redundant, however utilising someone with his stature to give the title more credence can never hurt. With Brock Lesnar ruling the roost as the WWE Champion the company needs a strong mid-card titleholder to elevate the show when the Beast Incarnate is not around. This is exactly what happened a couple of years ago when Seth Rollins was focused on as the IC Champion on RAW, whilst people questioned where Lesnar was.
Aside from logistical matters, there's no doubt that when on his game Shinsuke Nakamura is one of the most charismatic performers on the planet. The former IWGP Intercontinental Champion practically made that title whilst he was in New Japan Pro Wrestling, elevating his game to incredible heights with the likes of Kota Ibushi and Hiroshi Tanahashi. Sadly, we have yet to truly see this side of The Artist really since his debut NXT bout against Sami Zayn (and that was a long time ago).
Nakamura appears to be in a holding pattern, and a lengthy viable feud with Reigns could potentially help elevate him back to the top of the card on Smackdown.
Speaking of WWE Superstars who seem to be in a holding pattern...
Cesaro is one of the most under-utilised performers in WWE, which is a fact. When the Swiss Cyborg appeared at NXT UK Takeover Cardiff to face Ilja Dragunov the atmosphere was electric. Fans in that building knew exactly what the former Claudio Castagnoli could do if let loose in the ring, and he performed at a level that night beyond anything we have seen in years from the former United States Champion.
Is it Cesaro's fault that he hasn't had the opportunity to showcase himself at that level since returning back to the 'main roster?' No, it isn't.
The advantage for Cesaro is that he is the perfect utility player for WWE. Need someone for a makeshift tag team? Cesaro is your man. Need someone to have a blow away match on a pre-show? Again, Cesaro is right for the job.
With Reigns needing to have some big matches to re-establish his dominance in WWE why not give him a program with Cesaro, a man who could easily work some barnburners with the now experienced Big Dog?
#3 Kofi Kingston
The first 'babyface' on this list, however, I do not anticipate a feud between these two with Kofi in the 'good guy' role.
Ever since his loss to Brock Lesnar, the New Day member has been shoved straight back down into mid-card obscurity. Without even the hint of a WWE Championship rematch in sight, Kofi is already back to throwing pancakes and dancing every single week.
There were recent reports that this is a deliberate step by WWE to build to an eventual heel turn from Kofi, with the former Champion slowly beginning to descend following the major loss to Lesnar.
This is a character that I could see feuding with Roman, demanding that he be taken seriously once again and facing the man who WWE seem determined to strap the rocket to. It's a readymade storyline with a ton of potential for WWE to restablish Kingston in the main event scene. The only issue is, would the fans cheer Kofi and turn on Reigns? In all likelihood....yes.
#2 Brock Lesnar
It's going to happen. Even if you do not like the idea of Brock Lesnar against Roman Reigns in 2020 you have to resign yourself to the fact that we will see this match again.
The FOX Network will be looking for starpower at the top of the card as the show moves into the first quarter of the year. With Reigns having lost to Lesnar at WrestleMania 34 there's no doubt that Vince McMahon would at least entertain the idea of having Reigns finally defeat The Beast Incarnate at WrestleMania next year.
Again the question is, would fans completely turn on this match? The spectacle of WrestleMania 34's main event being drowned out completely by booing, chanting and an audible cheer when the fiendish Lesnar eventually took the win.
This wouldn't be the first time that WWE has gone against the will of a crowd, looking back at the likes of John Cena and Hulk Hogan the idea of the fanbase turning against the top babyface Superstar is not uncommon.
With some of the goodwill that Roman has built with the audience since that match there's a chance that he could walk into WrestleMania and be well received, but it is a risk that WWE will need to really calculate before taking.
#1 'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt
WWE sure does love its Superheroes (just ask Ricochet). And who better to face off with Smackdown's Superman in Roman than 'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt?
When Wyatt first appeared on WWE television with the Firefly Fun House fans were bemused, intrigued and finally excited that something different was coming to Monday Night RAW. That did falter somewhat when the following feud with Seth Rollins petered into a strange concoction of DQ finishes, the Fun House being burned down and Wyatt still appearing on RAW even though he had been drafted to SmackDown.
With the feud with Rollins seemingly nearly completed Roman would be a perfect choice for Wyatt to turn to next. There's a chemistry and history between the two characters, with the fantastic Shield vs Wyatt storyline that we saw a number of years ago.
Again though, I have to question whether the WWE crowds will take to the idea of a 'heel' Bray Wyatt facing a 'babyface' Roman Reigns. Seth Rollins has not fared well at all in terms of crowd response against The Fiend, will Roman fare any better with his history of negative fan reaction? We'll have to wait and see.