DALLAS — Here’s the thing about change: It doesn’t happen without a fight.
For Roman Reigns to alter the landscape of WWE, he had to stand up to a mad king and his raging queen before the gathered mass of 101,763 screaming faces.
He had to overcome conspiracies and injuries, sledgehammers and subterfuge. He had to face sports-entertainment’s most elite gladiator on its grandest stage and prove that he was meant to be there.
And he did just that.
Roman Reigns defeated Triple H in the main event of WrestleMania 32 in Dallas to become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, in a match that will long stand as a testament to The Powerhouse’s uncanny athleticism and unbreakable spirit.
Thrust in front of a scarily focused Cerebral Assassin who was competing in his 20th WrestleMania match, Reigns entered before a judgmental crowd and showed no indication that the gravity of this predicament had affected him.
Moments earlier, the WWE World Heavyweight Champion had been introduced to the WWE Universe by Stephanie McMahon, who stood on a stone pillar with a skull mask on her face and ordered each person in attendance to get on their knees and grovel at the feet of her chosen king.
Although he was flanked by an army of drones in skeleton hoods with WWE World Heavyweight Titles slung across their shoulders, The Game himself wore no elaborate costume, no facemask — just his trunks and boots. The message that simplicity sent was clear. He was here only to fight.
When Reigns entered, the reaction was undoubtedly mixed. Some cheered, some booed, but it was impossible not to watch with awe as the bombast of fireworks erupted across the entirety of AT&T Stadium. In small towns around Dallas, folks were suddenly aware that something important was happening.
The men met in the center of the ring, ready to fight, but they had to respect the ritual. Ring announcer Lilian Garcia introduced both combatants while the official threw himself between their hulking bodies, giving all he had to stop the fight before the bell rang proper.
Then it did — that simple clang of steel on metal signaling the beginning of war.
The match did not begin how many expected it to. Instead of getting into a fistfight, Triple H grabbed Reigns in a side headlock and took him down. He followed that up by grabbing an arm, then disrespectfully slapping his challenger in the back of the head. When Reigns went for a hip toss, The Game answered with one of his own and literally threw Roman out of the ring.
Triple H’s point? I can—and will—outwrestle you, kid.
Reigns attempted to turn the tide by overpowering The Game and then mocking him, but Triple H was not about to bite. It takes a lot to shake the confidence of a man known as The Cerebral Assassin.
The Game’s dominance continued. When the two Superstars hit the floor, Triple H attempted to smash Reigns’ face against the announce table, in a scary reminder of the night he destroyed Roman’s nose. When Reigns struggled out of the situation, The Game put him down with a spinning neckbreaker off the table to the floor.
Roman was outmatched. No question. The King of Kings had clearly strategized, studied tape, figured out the best ways to beat a guy who possesses athleticism and strength only seen in comic books.
Of course, as WWE Hall of Famer Mike Tyson once said, everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.
In other matches:
Baron Corbin won the 3rd annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
The Undertaker def. Shane McMahon (Hell in a Cell Match)
WWE sets all-time attendance record
Charlotte def. Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks to become first new WWE Women’s Champion
Brock Lesnar def. Dean Ambrose
The League of Nations def. The New Day (Non-Title Match)
Chris Jericho def. AJ Styles
Zack Ryder def. Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Stardust, The Miz and Sin Cara to become the new Intercontinental Champion
The Usos def. The Dudley Boyz
All-new WWE Women’s Championship introduced at WrestleMania
Total Divas def. B.A.D. & Blonde
United States Champion Kalisto def. Ryback