What, if any, concerns do you have for Bayley on the main roster?
Travis Wakeman: None. She’s way past ready for it. It also appears that those in charge recognize her amazing connection to the crowd and will book her in a strong, positive light as a result. Charlotte mentioned that there was a reason why Bayley was left behind in the revolution. Yes, that reason was so NXT still had a talented worker whom the crowd loved. Now that she’s on the main roster, the sky is really the limit for Bayley and big things should be expected of her going forward.
Riley Kontek: That creative will screw her up. She was the most popular character on NXT for over a year, but that matters not to Raw’s creative. They will take a popular character and make them suck. There is no evidence that it will happen to Bayley, but we all have our reservations. As long as they let her wrestle and be herself, she will be okay. Don’t over-produce her. She will stay over if they let her.
Jason Hall: None. Bayley should be fine as long as she’s booked favorably. She was given a big-feel debut and Sasha Banks will be out for likely the next few weeks. There’s no reason she shouldn’t be the top face in Raw’s Women’s Division. Perhaps the only concern is that fickle fans with get disinterested with her like every other IWC darling. But she should, at least, be near the top of the division.
Daniel DeMarco: That she will be overshadowed on the Raw roster where she really is not needed. I mean, really WWE? This was about as clear a call as you get. Bayley gets called up from NXT. She has one of two places to go. Raw, which already has Sasha Banks and Charlotte, the two most prominent women of WWE, plus the Women’s Championship. Or SmackDown, which is currently lacking a title, and just has Becky Lynch and Natalya, who are a step down in notability compared to the former. Bayley should have gone to SmackDown and become the champion for the blue brand. Now I think Bayley is just going to be taking backseat to Charlotte and Banks, and that is no good. Might as well have not called her up at all if that is the plan, and it very likely is.
Joseph Nardone: A weird concern to have for someone as beloved as her, but that she’ll be booked too much like John Cena. An underdog at first, one who will regularly overcome odds, then never really lose.
I think this because she has the chance to move a lot of merchandise to the younger audience much in the same way the jean-shorts-loving Face That Runs The Place does.
In turn, I then fear all the smarks turning on her at some point. Other than that,though, I imagine she gets a really good run on the main roster. There’s no way I can see the WWE not utilizing her and pushing her to the heights of the women’s division.
Has Roman Reigns done enough to win the Universal Championship and not be crushed for it?
TW: No, and I don’t think he ever will. The crowd legitimately hates the guy, and there’s proof of that when he’s being booed out of the building for beating up Rusev. WWE will have to come to terms with the fact that the crowd is never going to accept Reigns as a “good guy” and it will be exactly what the company dealt with for so long with John Cena except to an even bigger extent, if that’s possible. That said, you can’t keep him out of the main event scene forever, so WWE has handled him correctly.
RK: No. Reigns should not be anywhere near the Universal Championship. He is struggling against Rusev as it is in the mid-card and fans still chastise him. He is still getting thunderous boos. It’s clear that the WWE fans want Seth Rollins or Kevin Owens or literally anybody else not named Roman Reigns to have that title. He needs to be rebuilt away from the main event scene.
JH: I think he’ll still be crushed. WWE spent, what, a month not booking him as the guy who always overcomes the odds? Sure, he should be in the title picture. Whether he “deserves” to win or doesn’t is irrelevant. Fans will boo him. They booed him before, they booed him last night, they’ll continue to boo him.
DD: I’m convinced Reigns will never be able to do enough. As much as I love pro wrestling fans sometimes, they can be the most petty fanbase, too. And Reigns is a perfect example. I can understand the whole desire to stick it to Vince McMahon for trying to force a wrestler upon the fans as the next “guy.” But Reigns has proven he holds value. His title reign from WrestleMania 32 to Money in the Bank was quality stuff. And he took part of some of WWE’s best matches of 2016. But if McMahon tries to put him anywhere near that Raw title, the fans will dump all over Reigns. I think it is a lost cause in the same way that a portion of fans will never cheer John Cena, no matter what he does.
JN: He did up until Monday night. Then the WWE decided to book him as Super Roman Reigns again.
Thing is, he did enough himself to warrant a mid-card title push. He’s improved in the ring, this man-of-violence gimmick is solid, and he has become SLIGHTLY better on the microphone. The problem is the WWE booked him on Raw as that unstoppable, it-doesn’t-matter-how-many-guys-are-interfering-because-he-will-win-anyway monster… and everyone hates him for that.
But if we are speaking strictly on terms relative to if he has done enough — not so much has the WWE — then yes.
In the eyes of the main roster fanbase, was Finn Balor impactful enough in his short run to receive a massive pop in his return?
TW: I’d say easily. I feel like most fans probably follow NXT too, and he’s made more than a big enough reputation there. On top of that, when a Superstar returns, the first thing that makes you “pop” is their entrance. Is there a more recognizable entrance in WWE right now than Balor’s (maybe Nakamura’s). I think the crowd will welcome him with open arms AND a massive pop when he returns to the ring. Let’s hope that time comes soon too, cause it was tough to see him have to give that belt up right after winning it.
RK: I think so, just from the perspective that he was already over when he got to the main roster and he’s so beloved by many WWE and NXT fans. It won’t be the thunderous pop that other wrestlers would get like Triple H or Edge, because let’s face it, Balor isn’t nearly as popular or renowned yet. However, when he returns from injury, given build up and notice, fans will still care.
JH: Sure. He received a massive pop when he was drafted. His body of work in NXT is what ascended him to the top of the Raw roster. Plus, no one likes to see any athlete get injured. Triple H was the most hated heel in wrestling during the time of his injury and he received a massive pop. Bálor was over anyway, so yes, he’ll receive a huge pop when he returns. I think it’s more that he didn’t get the chance to make the most of his first title run, rather than whether he was there long enough or not.
DD: Oh, he will get a pop. In fact, I think the short run was a benefit in that regard. The WWE fanbase only got a small taste of Balor on the main roster. And he was clearly an enhancement for the product; his absence will be felt much in the way Seth Rollins’ absence was felt from last ’15 to just a few months ago. And because nothing even close to a decent-sized run was received from Balor before he already got injured, the fans will be itching for his return. Balor’s star power will not decrease. He is no Hideo Itami, who will get overshadowed over time. Mark my words, Balor’s return in some-six months will be big.
JN: This is a tough one, but I am going to say yes. The question here totally makes sense, as he was only on the main roster for a month before getting hurt.
I think because he won the Universal Title, coupled with the fact that I imagine the hype surrounding his return will be surreal, he will get a massive pop. I also believe that the WWE is smart enough to have his return happen not only when he is healthy enough, but in a place where “smart” fans happen to be at, which would help in the noise level when his music hits.
Also, Demon King for president (yes, I know he’s not even American, but whatever).