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Sam BrooksJanuary 29th, 2015Blog6 Comments ยป

The Roman Reigns Problem

16026 - Roman_Reigns commercial royal_rumble wwe

The Roman Reigns Problem

Let me start by saying this: I want to like Roman Reigns. I want to appreciate the fact that he has everything Vince is looking for in a top guy. I want to believe that he has all the skills and experience needed to defeat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31. And by God, do I want to cheer for him when he comes through the crowd to beat up whoever is in the ring at that time… but there’s one big problem here. And the name of this problem is Roman Reigns.

It doesn’t seem to hold up, does it? The problem stopping me from liking Roman Reigns is Roman Reigns himself? It may seem that way, but after reflection on the Rumble, the Raw following, and various interviews with the man, I’ve determined the following: Reigns is not the guy. And it goes beyond the usual spiel of “he’s not ready” – it further extends to his attitude, his within-kayfabe and real life experiences with wrestling, and the misunderstanding of his own character overall. Let’s elaborate on these, and more, to see if the Roman Reigns Problem is both solvable, and worth solving.

Let’s start with an abridged history of the Roman Reigns character, for those who have been living under a rock since 2012. Debuting at Survivor Series ’12, alongside Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins as a part of the now legendary faction “The Shield”, Reigns started out as a typical “silent muscle” archetype. Winning various 6-man tag team matches with his comrades over names such as John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, and more, The Shield rose to fame for being unstoppable for the longest time. Fast forward to May 2013, where Rollins and Reigns won the Tag Team Championship, which they held onto until October. Then Survivor Series ’13 rolled around, during which Reigns was the sole survivor of the traditional Survivor Series elimination match, eliminating 4 members of the opposing team.

This is where the foundations of Reigns becoming “the guy” begin to show. During The Shield’s feud with CM Punk, a 3-on-1 handicap match took place at that year’s TLC PPV. After Punk left the WWE, he recalls being constantly reminded to “make Reigns look really, really strong” during the match, which Punk won anyway. Gee, I wonder who told him that? After that, at the Royal Rumble match in 2014, Reigns set yet another record, eliminating 12 people in the match before placing as the runner-up to Batista. After this it was more high-profile feuds alongside The Shield against The Wyatt Family, Kane and The New Age Outlaws, and finally Evolution, which led us to the eventual demise of The Shield when Seth Rollins turned on his comrades to start his own path into legend.


And this is where, I feel, the cracks started to show in Roman Reigns – after being accustomed to having The Shield with him at all times, he now had the chance to make a name for himself as a singles competitor. So, naturally, he basically wore the same ring gear and only slightly modified his theme music from his Shield days. Way to go for it on your own, I guess. Despite the apparent lack of any significant change within Reigns, he immediately decided to go for the World Title picture, whilst his former comrades fought it out between themselves in a better feud. Reigns failed to win the title on a couple of occasions, before feuding with Randy Orton, culminating in a win at SummerSlam, Reigns’ longest televised singles bout to date. Some might say that Orton carried Reigns throughout that match, but it’s down to personal opinion when you watch it back, I find.

But then, disaster would strike when Reigns suffered from an incarcerated hernia, which required surgery, to put him on the shelf for months. This was at the start of his long-anticipated feud with former Shield brethren, and soon to become top heel of the company, Seth Rollins. Ambrose, luckily, was there to fill that spot. Whilst he was on the mend, many people expected the Reigns character to undergo some adjustments for when he would return. However, what we got upon the return of Reigns, was forced, scripted, poorly delivered promos, and a feud with The Big Show, that seemingly lasted an eternity. I would say I was surprised, but given the amount of sense that WWE Creative has been known to have in the past, I couldn’t have expected anything else.


And then you know the rest. Superstar of the Year Slammy Award winner, who then wins the Rumble, cuts promos about children’s stories that nobody likes, and is being booed like a dictator in a foreign country when he’s supposed to be the good guy, going up against the man who ended the biggest streak in wrestling history. Something doesn’t seem right here. Which brings us back to the big problem: Roman Reigns himself. Now that his brief career has been surmised, hopefully that can make for a better understanding as to why he’s doomed to fail before the rocket can reach the blood-red moon. Starting with his attitude.

It’s clear as day to see that Reigns has been handed every success he’s had on the main roster. Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, regardless of being a part of a faction or as a singles competitor, Reigns was chosen to be the one to break the records, and squash the legends, so he would, as they say, “look strong” going into his match with the strongest man in the company, Brock Lesnar. The amount of planning and preparation that’s gone into Roman Reigns is debatable, but either way, he’s not going into this match empty handed. He has claims to his name. But this is the issue: he doesn’t have enough.


Within kayfabe, Brock Lesnar is the man who conquered The Undertaker’s undefeated streak – something no wrestler of any caliber could do before – and the man who defeated John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship like an abusive father stereotype from the 1950’s. Not to mention his performances in his matches since then, Lesnar has been built up to be a Wrestling God. Roman Reigns? He’s really good at throwing people over the top rope and running into stomachs. It doesn’t quite compare. And let’s not forget each athlete’s experiences with the sport: Brock Lesnar has more accolades within amateur and professional wrestling and martial arts than I have hairs on my head, and has been wrestling for over a decade. Roman Reigns failed to become a football player, and has been wrestling for four years.

When you put that alone in comparison against names such as Bryan, Ambrose, Cesaro, Rollins, and Ziggler, who each have their own extensive merits and accomplishments, it makes the fact that Reigns has been picked as “the guy” even more insulting. Which neatly moves us on to his personality. His smug. His promos. His lack of conviction. Let me ask you, the reader, something: when Roman Reigns cuts a promo, despite how scripted and forced the delivery may seem, does it really look like he cares? Even in those sit-down interviews on the post-Rumble Raw, he sounded monotonous, unconvincing, and above all, empty. It definitely did not have the fire that a typical Bryan or Ambrose promo would have when going up against the toughest guy in wrestling right now.


The booking of Reigns’ character is also something to be put into question. Let’s draw a comparison to the characters of Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. Two opposites, or so WWE would have you believe, yet both practically hold the same gimmick. In kayfabe, Seth Rollins was hand-picked by The Authority to be the future of the WWE. Hence the Money in the Bank briefcase, hence the insertion into world title matches whilst holding said briefcase, hence all the opportunities handed to him on a platter. This is what’s made him the top heel in the company, almost unanimously. Roman Reigns, however, is this same exact character, but in reality. He’s afforded title matches, new records at Survivor Series, Rumble victories, and all of the hype he’s had built around him, on a platter. And yet we’re supposed to cheer for the guy? It probably makes sense in Vince McMahon’s looney tune head, but in our world, it makes little to none. This is backed up by his response to Paul Heyman’s grilling on the post-Rumble Raw. He’s essentially told that his bloodline is the only reason why he’s been given everything he has been given. And his response? “I’m beating Brock Lesnar because believe that”. It’s almost as if he didn’t have a good answer towards the criticism he gets.

That’s another problem within Reigns. His attitude towards criticism. Reigns has come across in interviews as arrogant and smug, believing that because most of his critics haven’t wrestled a match before, and don’t know how to “lock up”, that their criticism is invalid. So, by this logic, only wrestlers can criticize him. Therefore, any legendary manager, or commentator, or backstage alumni, who hold a certain amount of sway and influence, their criticism doesn’t matter, because they couldn’t wrestle Reigns in a match. What a load of sufferin’ succotash, son. And it’s this attitude that he holds, over the attitudes that people like Daniel Bryan and co. hold, that makes me angry that this guy won the Rumble. Because he’s been groomed to share the same mentality that Vince McMahon has; don’t listen to the fans, because I’m the one who’s right, not them.

And finally, alongside all of this, it’s the fact that this shouldn’t be the way things are. It’s like what I said at the start of this article: I want to like Roman Reigns. Because he’s everything a top guy should be. When you look at the top guys of history, e.g. Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Stone Cold, John Cena, etc., you see a pattern emerge. And that’s that the next top guy has to be a subversion of the previous top guy. Because every generation is different before the one that came before it. For example; Shawn Michaels was not like Hulk Hogan. And Stone Cold Steve Austin was not like Shawn Michaels. And The Rock was not like Austin. John Cena is not like Austin. And, guess what? Reigns is not Cena. Aside from wrestling ability and promo cutting, Reigns is everything that Vince wants in a top guy. He’s an athlete. He has the tough guy look. He has the voice. He can sell action figures. But somehow Vince has made a guy who’s meant to be the coolest guy, the most uncool asshole of the current roster. Any chance that Vince has to make Reigns a top guy, one that we can all get behind and, wouldn’t you guess it, “believe in”, is all but gone when Reigns talks about beanstalks and giants in promos. But since we’re the millennials who can’t lock up, we’re not allowed to have our criticism taken seriously.


All in all; Roman Reigns should be the next top guy. But with everything you’ve read here, which of course is nothing but my opinion and the opinions of fellow like-minded wrestling fans, do you have confidence in this man? Because I sure as Hell don’t, and I don’t see how this guy can improve before WrestleMania 31 comes around. And that’s the problem that Roman Reigns has; the potential to change is there, but a combination of Vince McMahon’s inability to make a correct decision with this guy, and the air of disregard that Reigns has for the fans and his critics, is what’s holding back any chance for him to be the hero going into a match with Brock Lesnar, on the biggest PPV of the year. And it doesn’t help that his in-ring abilities have a lot left to the imagination, and that’s not something that can change in the space of a few months. Big changes are going to have to happen to this scheduled WrestleMania match, between now and Fast Lane, otherwise we’re all in for some deep shit. And you can believe that.


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