Consider Roman Reigns’ first week as Intercontinental Champion a success — with one big asterisk.
The win came in The Big Dog’s title defense against Elias, who put up a formidable fight in the biggest opportunity of the young Superstar’s career. Competing for his first title, Elias stuck to the ground-and-pound strategy that had brought him to the dance, and The Miztourage did their part at ringside, distracting Reigns as he pulled ahead and allowing his challenger to get back in the thick of things with a picturesque elbow drop.
Reigns tilted the contest back his way by reversing Drift Away into a roll-up attempt, and despite Elias countering one Spear with a knee to the face, The Big Dog’s second attempt at the move seconds later hit its mark and sent the champ home victorious.
As for the asterisk? Right as Reigns was making his exit, he turned to thank the WWE Universe once more and was bulldozed from behind by Samoa Joe, who trapped The Big Dog in the Coquina Clutch, delivering a stark reminder that the life of a fighting champion is a long, hard one with no end in sight.