As The Road to WrestleMania rounds its final bend, Roman Reigns finds himself, once again, staring down the finish line and the prize at the end of the run.
This time, however, it won’t be the unstoppable Beast Incarnate looking to deny The Big Dog, but current WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H, the unyielding figurehead of The Authority and the man who effectively snatched the title from Reigns in the closing moments of the 2016 Royal Rumble Match.
That Reigns got back to this stage is remarkable enough: The tests he’s gone through since his Royal Rumble Match victory in 2015 would have caused a lesser Superstar to tuck tail and run. If nothing else, Reigns’ ability to plow past Lesnar and his best friend Dean Ambrose (again) at WWE Fastlane to earn the match with The Game should serve as proof to even his staunchest detractors that he’s made of stronger stuff than many gave him credit for this time last year.
Whether desire is enough, this time, will be the question. It wasn’t last year, when Reigns, riding a mantra of “I Can, I Will,” put then-champion Lesnar on his heels in the main event of WrestleMania 31 before Seth Rollins swooped in and stole the show.
There’s no Money in the Bank contract to potentially play spoiler in Dallas this time around, but this incarnation of Triple H never goes into battle without a Plan B, C and D to back up his strategy. Even though it’s billed as a one-on-one match, make no mistake: Reigns is fighting the machine itself, and The King of Kings need only gesture to his army of subordinates to help him hold down the man who ran roughshod over his “church” for years, both as a member of The Shield and the solo Superstar who brutalized The Game at WWE TLC 2015. Taking the title was less a feat of strength than a display of power, a symbolic gesture of The Game’s rule, and an affirmation that no one will take it from him easily.
So it’s onto Dallas, where the ironclad king battles his Kevlar-encased usurper, a battle of one versus all in the disguise of a grudge match, with the ultimate prize on the line. For Triple H, his legacy and his position are at stake. For Roman Reigns, it’s his future. We know he’s capable. But whether he can or he will is barely even the question anymore. He must.