This has been a long time in coming. It’d be easy to point to Roman’s tweet back in January—in fact, Michael Cole specifically referenced it—but this match is about so much more, even beyond Goldberg himself.
“This is my yard, now.” That isn’t a mere catchphrase. Roman won a hard-fought and emotional victory against The Undertaker in order to be able to claim it. Afterward, he would call the match “bittersweet”, and it’s easy to see why. What little boy wants to take down the man he grew up viewing as a legend? But it had to be done. Anyone watching could see that ‘Taker wasn’t able to keep up. Running the yard means defending the yard, and the Dead Man no longer could.
Roman faced the vitriol of the crowd the next night, secure in his decision. That same confidence would lead to him calling out Brock Lesnar for never being there while, “every single week, me n’ them boys run across this world and we bust our ass.” He never wavered, not even when he had to relinquish his Universal Title. He assured the WWE Universe that he was not giving a retirement speech, that he would come home—and he did. Upon his return he wasn’t focused on titles, instead choosing to reunite with his brothers, and to champion his cause. Maybe that’s why Baron Corbin thought being King of the Ring was enough for him to take over. As it turned out, he couldn’t even defend his claim!
Which brings us to Goldberg. He came from out of nowhere to take the Universal Title from The Fiend, because he felt his own time as Universal Champion had been too short. Some might view this for the best, the championship no longer in the hands of a monster. The Big Dog obviously doesn’t agree. Goldberg never got a rematch? Neither did he—and unlike Goldberg, Roman never lost his title, he was forced to relinquish it in order to fight a much bigger battle. Faced with the possibility of yet another part-timer holding the title, Roman took advantage of Goldberg’s open challenge to declare himself “next”.
The tension between the two on the night of the contract signing was palpable even before Goldberg led off by insinuating Roman was a coward. The words meant nothing, and were quickly countered: “—sitting in my yard, holding my title, that he never earned.” Goldberg’s insults mean nothing, he doesn’t understand that everything about the WWE that matters to Roman, everything about how he conducts himself, can be summed up right here. Roman made a claim and backed it up. His decisions aren’t based upon his ego, but from a desire to do right by the locker room. What does Goldberg care for Roman’s boys? He hasn’t been around! All he wants is more time on top and one last run. When Roman Reigns picks up the Universal Title, he will be shouldering more than gold, and you can believe that.