“To be honest, uce, I would give you this title if I could. But the truth is, you wouldn’t even know what to do with it. “ — Roman Reigns to Jey Uso
Roman wasn’t wrong. We saw what happened when Jey got his hands on the title. He treated it like a mere object; first cheapening it by using it as a weapon, then later clowning a win with it, rather than showing the respect it deserves. What Roman said was harsh but true. He is the one who sees the Universal Title for what it is. It’s more than a championship. It is opportunity and it is status. To keep it requires sacrifice, and Roman understands that.
“I DON’T JUST FEED MY KIDS WITH THIS TITLE! I DON’T JUST FEED YOUR KIDS WITH THIS TITLE! I FEED A WHOLE FAMILY WITH THIS TITLE! OUR FAMILY NEEDS ME TO HAVE THIS TITLE, AND YOU WANT TO TAKE IT FROM ME?! You’re gonna take your payday, you’re gonna take the ass whupping that comes with it, but you will never take this title, and you will never take my place at the head of the table.”
Consider something that Paul Heyman said on After the Bell. “I don’t find that Roman has a new attitude. I think this is the real Roman Reigns that you’re seeing, and this is how he feels at this time and place in history. [...] And, this is the manner in which he is going to deal with the cards that have been dealt him. You know—heavy hangs the head that wears the crown. It is a tremendous responsibility to be the top star in WWE.”
After Roman laid Jey out on SmackDown, there came a moment where he was unguarded and you could see what it had cost him to do it. Jey is family, Roman loves him. But he will do what he has to for the sake of the family, and he proved it at Clash of Champions.
Jey gave a serviceable accounting of himself. As Roman pointed out, he could have just taken the payday and laid down. When he managed to bring Roman to the mat, as Roman looked at him... he seemed almost pleased. He wanted a fight. Jey giving him one meant that Roman now had an outlet for all of his fury at the disrespect he’s been shown. That’s why a win wasn’t enough; Roman wanted acknowledgement. Paul Heyman attempting to mollify him by giving it to him was never going to satisfy him; Roman wanted to hear it from Jey. Failing that, Jimmy would do, and not because he threw in the towel for his twin. He chose to bend the knee to save his brother. “Is that what you want?” Distraught, Jimmy had missed the flicker of apprehension that crossed Roman’s face as he looked down at them; yet another moment where he saw what he had wrought, and accepted the cost. No, that wasn’t what Roman wanted—it was what Roman needed.