Okay, let’s get a few things out of the way. Listen. I know this is a fantasy booking. I’m just having fun with something I know is likely to never happen, and if it were to, it would never happen the way I’m envisioning it. The scenario I am about to present to you is even less likely to happen during the stage we are in right now. So, if you read this, don’t put your expectations in any level of height whatsoever. Just shove them under your bed or something. I don’t care if it’s crammed, you shove it in there. Leave those expectations and take a ride with me, would you kindly?
As it stands, the years-long story that Roman Reigns has happened since his return at SummerSlam 2020 has been a historic one. With a revolving cast of characters ranging from Roman, Solo Sikoa, The Usos, Cody Rhodes, and Sami Zayn, this feels like an epic. He’s toppled everyone, every star WWE had to offer. From Cesaro, Kevin Owens, and Finn Balor to John Cena, Goldberg, and Daniel Bryan, The Tribal Chief has conquered all, with segments that have been gathering more and more fans, loyal, tired, or casual. With the Sami Zayn interactions in late 2022 and early 2023, the story of The Bloodline has been among the best and most popular.
On the other side of the history-making line is Imperium, and so stands their leader, Gunther. Known as The Ring General, he is set to soon overtake The Honky Tonk Man’s 454-day Intercontinental Championship record reign at the time of this writing. Gunther’s is a run that features stablemates, Giovanni Vinci and Ludwig Kaiser. It includes foes in Sheamus; Ridge Holland; Butch of the Brawling Brutes, and the recent Drew McIntyre at SummerSlam. Whether it’s elevating talent that hasn’t had much to do or putting all-star classics, Gunther has been an in-ring success with the likes of Bret Hart, Daniel Bryan, Kurt Angle, and Mr. Perfect. Whereas Roman Reigns is the perfect Superman embodiment that WWE normally looks for, Gunther is the exact opposite. Chops, deep submission holds, and a foul grimace, he means business. To describe Gunther is to take a descent to Hell, with the likes of Mozart and Beethoven being the soundtrack to the descent.
Two dominating heels, but how would they fare if they went head-to-head?
If we’re looking at match formulas, Gunther’s is way looser, whereas Roman’s seems to follow the same routine for the most part. Gunther’s matches allow for an easily adaptable format, despite being a dominating heel presented in such a refined way, so he can work with damn near anything. Roman usually strides with a power flex early on with some heavy trash-talking – his opponent gets glimmer of hope with an epic comeback that somehow makes you believe every time if you buy in and forget this pattern, then he breaks your heart all over again. If not by his own merit, it’s his reliance on his family members the moment he’s in dire straits and isn’t strong enough to do it on his own. Gunther is the walking red flag you want to watch from afar with glee, but Roman is the monster you can’t help but keep running back to. Okay, this description is getting weird.
Anyways, I think Gunther could work this formula and make it great; if executed right, this could be a five-star classic, or subvert expectations halfway through, putting the Tribal Chief through the trial of his life.
However, if they worked a freer constraint, Gunther would brutalize Roman’s body, win or lose, while also working safe enough with Reigns and even making him look like a million bucks, though he doesn’t need it. Hell, Gunther could turn Roman babyface if he got his hands on him.
Now, let’s look at the characters. Roman is calculating and manipulative. If you fail him, you are doing so at your peril. He doesn’t have to put his hands on you; he can berate you with words, guilt trip you and every bit of mind game can use to his full advantage, especially if you genuinely care about him. You never know if you’re going to be okay or not, if these soft whispers will twist into unexpected outbursts. Gunther, he’ll just kick the shit out of you. He doesn’t need the mind games; he needs only himself, his will, and his lack of remorse to use them. He is unforgiving. If he lets you stand under his coat, it’s best to not stain it with imperfection.
Likely, I think the scenario with both characters as they are now would see a Thanos-esque aura around both men. Colossal titans not knowing defeat, only victory. The only difference is there’s uncertainty blanketed by the stoic expression of Roman Reigns, thinking he could stop this new challenger. Gunther, on the other hand would be unfettered. All that matters in creation to him is the respect paid to the mat, for it is sacred. Roman’s disrespected it enough by avoiding it as though it were holy water. The Head of the Table, sneering, would underplay his Austrian opponent’s achievements, for what is 450+ days to 1000+?
I don’t think Roman’s mind games would work on Gunther. He’d need the Bloodline, and Gunther’s Imperium could do an ample job of standing in the way of that.
Roman’s pattern of gloating would cause him ill, for Gunther would doubtless rise and cut that short. The mat is sacred; no time for showboating. He’s no time for playing to the crowd, he’s for the win.
With the workrate and know-how on his holds, Gunther would have Reigns at his wits, and the performer behind him is just so good at theatrics; so convincing and dramatic enough that you forget all that’s around you. All that would exist is those perilous moments as seconds tick by, feeling like minutes.
Gunther’s no slouch on the selling, either. Roman’s Guillotine would have The Ring General frantic and working to use all his strength to get out of it. And man, oh man, I would LOVE to see him transition Roman’s Superman Punch or Spear and transition it to an armbar or a cross-face. Maybe even a Boston Crab.
There’s so much to their differing styles I feel would make this match a classic. Something is appealing to me about Roman smack-talking the stoic Gunther to his face, as though he feels he’s in control here, only to later clutch his chest as it’s turned to bruises of purple, red, and darker of flesh. Such is the cost of stepping in the ring with one of WWE’s best-ever Intercontinental Champions. At this point in his career, the Austrian wrestler has already made his case as a great. He’s an ironman, willing to go the distance.
For Roman, he also works on having longer matches, stretching time to wear out his opponents. But here’s the thing: Gunther lasted over an hour in the 2023 Royal Rumble, having a full-on match when all but he and Cody Rhodes were eliminated. Gunther has been built up to such a ridiculous degree that he didn’t need an Art of War-size cast of characters, for his run and his aura is the storyline.
If it sounds like I’m admonishing one man or the other, I’m not. They both bring something unique to the table. Roman’s a perfectly capable wrestler. He has a star power that is out of this world, bringing eyes to the product and maybe the industry. While his status as “best wrestler” is a bit much to me personally, he brings a lot to the recipe. Gunther brings that other half, the half that Roman needs for the perfect goulash.
I’m not going to predict a winner. I just wanted to explore this idea. For all I know, the match could be a flop for both men and not have full chemistry between them. AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens on the main roster of WWE had the same effect on me. Great wrestlers who just don’t click are not uncommon, after all. That’s just a possibility, not a prediction.
Admittedly, this is just coming from the sicko in me, someone who wants to see wills tested. To see Reigns either have to submit to the holiness of the mat or The Ring General has to acknowledge The Tribal Chief. The narrative beast of The Bloodline could have an interesting rhythm with the in-ring five-star cuisine that is Imperium (hopefully with Antonín Dvořák’s “Symphony No. 9 in E Minor” like in NXT).
However, these two styles might not even mesh well. Roman’s pace doesn’t match what Gunther brings to the table and unless Roman’s able and willing to be flexible, it might not be that great a match. Plus, if Gunther does end up falling at this point in time, what is there left for him to do? Roman is the main event attraction that you want to see beaten and humiliated, while Gunther is a special attraction where you want to see someone fight from underneath and overcome. Take that away from him, and he might not feel as special. That’s why, if this bout were to ever transpire, it needs to be right. If this were to happen, I’d say it would ideally be the time WWE, Paul Heyman, and Roman Reigns decide to take the title off of The Big Dog.
Whichever the case is, I would love to see this match. With Roman working fewer dates, however, and both men unable to take a loss at this point (at least to each other), this only exists as a fantasy. This could very well be the perfect torch-passing moment though if Roman were to step out and Gunther could fill that role. For my part, I would love to see Gunther come out the man on top, taking the place of a man who the company fully placed in the role of the GOAT.
After all, Gunther is approaching godhood, and every god needs the blood a sacrificial lamb.