Stage One: Denial
Ugh...Why?...What the f@*#!? These were the collective moans, groans and shouts thrown up from my wife and friends as we watched the end of the Fastlane main event. I sat silently, perhaps too stunned to even form words. I just couldn't come to terms with Roman Reigns being given another opportunity to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
I was so deep in my denial that for a split second I even (aided by four beers) managed to convince myself that it didn't happen. Maybe the camera would zoom out and we would see the audience slowly realize that this finale (and the preceding New Day skit) was all just Vince McMahon's dream. But alas, I couldn't hide from the facts. Reigns was indeed the number one contender, set to face Triple H in the main event of WrestleMania 32. He WILL become the champion. This feeling however, was only temporary. I was only on the first wave of the grieving process.
Stage Two: Anger
Instantly after I acknowledged the reality of my loss, I was hit by stage two of the grieving process. This surge of anger was aimed solely at WWE Creative. They were the reason behind my emotional suffering and they alone deserved my long-winded wrath. I was already irked by several of the decisions in this pay-per-view: a United States Championship match in the pre-show; the Wyatts (the eaters of very few worlds) losing to Big Show, Kane and Ryback; and that dreadful New Day/Edge and Christian/League of Nations spot, to name just a few. I mean, really. How do you make that the undercard of the pay-per-view? But that's a rant for another article. Back to the main event.
I felt abandoned by the Reigns victory. Once again, I was played for a fool. I was seduced by the Reigns/Ambrose split. I felt it was the best decision for the careers of both wrestlers, the fans and the overall product. But apparently WWE Creative didn't think that at all. They saw the fan's negative reaction to booking decisions and the corresponding drop in ratings and decided to just keep giving us the same crap over and over again until we just lie back and take it. I was mad as hell, and I wasn't going to take it anymore. But I was powerless. My WWE was gone and there was nothing I could do about it. It freaking sucked! I loved it. My ranting was the only way I could express my connection to it without getting weird in front of company. But in the end, it was good for me. I was able to identify and label my anger. Still, I was in utter despair and could not help but think of what might have been.
Stage 3: Bargaining
After I laid the verbal smackdown on WWE Creative, I began the bargaining stage of the grieving process. I ran through a laundry list of "what if" and "if only" scenarios, anything that would help me regain some semblance of control.
- What if Rollins never got injured?
- If only WWE would have ran with an Ambrose/Reigns feud.
- What if triple threat rules were different and the match continues after the first person is pinned?
- If only Vince would step down and let Triple H rebuild this company the right way.
- What if WWE was still in the Attitude Era?
My focus on the past and its impact on an alternate present was the only way I could begin to wrap my head around the loss. I even secretly asked a higher power to do something... anything.... to delay the inevitable reign of the "Roman Empire". But it was no use. My prayers fell on deaf ears. But slowly I became OK with that. I began to focus on the present, all the while still keeping hope that one day WWE will come to its senses.
Stage 4: Depression
After my bargaining, I snapped back to take stock of the current situation. Reigns is going to WrestleMania. Whatever. Who cares? We all know Reigns will win the championship. And that's what sucks the most. There is nothing to look forward to. Certainly not WrestleMania. What's the point? The outcome is so predictable. So much so, I didn't even want to watch Raw the following Monday. There was just no reason to go along. Then as I sat on the couch, remote in hand, I had a moment of clarity: I can get though this.
Stage 5: Acceptance
My sudden calmness was a sign that I had reached the final phase of the grieving process: acceptance. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean I'm ok with what happened or what's happening with WWE. I will NEVER be ok with it. I've just realized that I have to accept the facts. Roman Reigns isn't terrible. He's just not my type of wrestler. I've never gravitated to the hero champions.
But I totally understand their importance. WWE needs an heir to John Cena. Hell, John Cena needs an heir to John Cena. WWE is in a weird position where they're not quite sure where they're going. Of course injuries played a part, but there's still a worrisome undertone that bleeds over into the product. They need to settle down and find a steady course. They had that with Rollins. They will have that with Reigns. All I can do now is just blend back in to normalcy. Eventually there will be more good days than bad ones. This is just the life of a WWE fan, and now I am ready to move on.
This article was fun to write, but I am in no way trying to make light of losing a loved one or anyone who might be going through any of the stages of grief.