Referee explains why Roman Reigns' year-long title reign could have ended after 154 days

Roman Reigns' current Universal Championship reign has almost lasted an entire year
Roman Reigns' current Universal Championship reign has almost lasted an entire year
Danny Hart

Former WWE referee Mike Chioda revealed he would have awarded the victory to Kevin Owens instead of Roman Reigns at the 2021 Royal Rumble.

Reigns retained his Universal Championship in the Last Man Standing match after locking his opponent in a Guillotine Choke. Moments earlier, a referee stopped counting to 10 after realizing that Paul Heyman was legitimately struggling to free Reigns from a set of handcuffs.

Chioda once counted out Jack Gallagher against Chad Gable on 205 Live in 2019 after Gallagher failed to return to the ring before the 10-count. Speaking on the Such Good Shoot podcast, the veteran official said he would also have counted to 10 if he refereed Reigns vs. Owens.

“That kind of s*** [Gallagher’s count-out] even depresses me because I'm like, ‘F***, these guys worked so hard,’” Chioda said. “But I had to do what I had to do because it would’ve looked stupid. I mean, he literally came up on nine and a half and he took his head down the rope and then he laid back on the side of the apron.
“I’m looking going, ‘What the f***?’ I’m like, ‘Count out.’ Both guys were like, ‘Let’s start the match, restart the match.’ Are you f***ing kidding me? That's why I'm surprised on that count [Reigns vs. Owens]. If I was counting, I'd have counted 10.”

Chioda did not watch Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens but he was informed about the unfortunate moment by the Such Good Shoot podcast hosts. If Chioda was in charge, Reigns’ year-long Universal Champion reign would have ended after just 154 days.

How did Roman Reigns’ handcuff botch happen?

Kevin Owens handcuffed Roman Reigns to a lighting trellis during their Last Man Standing match. The original referee looked set to count to 10 before Reigns shoved him into the trellis, meaning the match continued.

A second referee appeared and started to count to 10. However, he stopped his count at five after seemingly receiving a signal about Paul Heyman struggling to unlock the handcuffs from Roman Reigns’ hand.

The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer said Heyman initially attempted to unlock the handcuffs from the wrong side, which is why the delay lasted so long.

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Edited by Arvind Sriram
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