Saturday, July 20, 2024
EditorialThe Evolution of Roman Reigns

The Evolution of Roman Reigns

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Well, it’s Finals week in the academic world and my sanity to almost nothing with 4 Finals and a paper within the next week. However, something did give me some encouragement, and that was what I saw last night. The moment when Roman Reigns won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. But that’s not what I was encouraged about. It was the pop he got when he won. It was the sympathy he received from the fans. It was something out of a good book.

After The Shield disbanded as a trio and each man went their separate ways, it was interesting to see who would succeed the most without having the baggage of the other two members guiding each other along the way. Seth Rollins propelled into main event status as the proxy of The Authority, won the Money In The Bank contract, headlined PPV’s and eventually won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Dean Ambrose was involved in a feud with Rollins which he lost and he would subsequently fall into obscurity as he would be involved in a useless feud with Bray Wyatt and eventually settled for chasing the Intercontinental Championship, a failed endeavor until TLC. However, what about Roman Reigns, the perennial powerhouse of The Shield? He would go to be involved in a feud with Randy Orton that didn’t really propel him before suffering a hernia that sidelined him for the rest of that year. He seemed harmless on his own, but then, something sparked the ire out of the IWC and even the mainstream fans of WWE. News broke online that WWE had chosen Roman Reigns to be their next big face of the company and was set to headline WrestleMania 31. WWE had chosen Roman, at that time, an unproven commodity with only the looks of the face of a major company like WWE. Despite that, his microphone skills were amateur at best, and in his in-ring arsenal left a lot to be desired. Surely, he would pale in comparison to the then WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar.

Then, enter the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia, where the fans witnessed what could be called the worst Royal Rumble soley on an entertainment basis. The only bright spots being Daniel Bryan being involved and the return of Bubba Ray Dudley was not enough to shield the chorus of boos and jeers that was hurled toward the Samoan. His every move, his every action ended was greeted with an expletive. With Daniel Bryan being eliminated surprisingly early in the Rumble, the fans started to fear that Roman would actually go on to win. The final four members of the Royal Rumble were Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and tried, true, but tired veterans, Kane and The Big Show (with Rusev underneath the ring). Once Kane and Big Show dispatched of Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose, that only left Roman, and the boos and jeers that greeted Roman became all the more louder, because they knew the inevitable was happening. He would defy the odds and eliminate both and an impending Rusev to win the Royal Rumble. The Rock then came for a cameo appearance after and even endorsed him, but the boos did not stop. Rather, they became even louder and angry that WWE essentially turned Roman Reigns into the PG incarnation of John Cena, a supposedly infallible character with courageous attributes that would make him nearly impervious to any obstacle. We then venture into WrestleMania.

When news broke that Brock Lesnar would extend his contract in WWE, fans were beyond ecstatic. Despite Lesnar’s part time status and his tendency to only show up on PPV or an ocassional RAW, he brought the goods every time he fought in the ring. He made a spectacle out of a simple German Suplex. The sheer power, speed and strength of this super-athlete was a once-in-a-generation type dominance. He essentially became the babyface entering the match and Roman became the heel, for fans did not want him holding the strap. Sure enough, Lesnar was serenaded with cheers and a big pop while Roman was greeted with boos and assault from the crowd he walked through. It was as if Roman’s journey to the ring that night was his journey to gain the approval of the fans. He didn’t choose to be WWE’s hero, WWE chose him to be our hero. After Rollins’ cash in and his failure to win the title, he would come up short seemingly any time he got close to winning. Whether it was Big Show costing him a chance at a one on one match, his failure to win at Payback or Bray Wyatt screwing him at Money In The Bank, slowly, but surely, he started to gain the sympathy of the fans, because at every turn, he was being screwed by The Authority.

Fans still weren’t completely sold on him, but it would turn out that Rollins’ injury could have been a blessing in disguise. Because Roman finally reached the mountaintop when he beat his comrade and partner in crime Dean Ambrose at Survivor Series to win the title. However, once he reached the top, he sank right back to the very bottom when Sheamus would cash in. His moment of glory foiled once again. WWE had done something smart for once. Roman was insufferable in the eyes of many people, but WWE then put him in a feud with someone who was even more insufferable than him. Sheamus had returned the night after WrestleMania with a stupid haircut, and while I prefer him as a heel over a face any day of the week and twice on Sunday, he is not someone people would want holding WWE’s most prized posession for an extended period of time. Roman’s anger after being screwed yet again at TLC all came to a rising boil, when Roman would ruthlessly attack the mastermind of the operation, Triple H. The crowd then popped and got pumped for this, because Triple H was seemingly getting his comeuppance. It was as if it was a mirror image of how Daniel Bryan ascended to the top in 2014. With each chair shot, you could feel each ounce of pain and disappointment he felt in his journey. WWE had wanted to build sympathy for Roman from the beginning, but they went bout it the wrong way. However, at TLC, that would change, as our chosen hero became the hero we wanted. Roman for too long cut silly promos and had a nice attitude., but over the weekend, we saw a different Roman. The one we wanted all along.

Finally, on RAW last night, with his career now on the line with seemingly his last chance to win the belt, the fix was clearly in. With Vince ringside and with The League of Nations permeating the ring, it would appear that Roman’s days were numbered and the man who once held our ire would be gone for good. But with a Superman punch to the chairman of the board and a powerful spear, Roman climbed back up to the mountaintop, and this time, it seems he will be there for a while. How ironic that the same area he won the belt to a crowd of cheers and gratitude was the same arena where he was jeered and seemingly exiled? It was his transformation that he underwent that gained the fans’ sympathy. Slowly he grew in the ring this year, and over time his anger became more palpable. What we wanted to see was a pissed off Roman Reigns to reach the top. Not the happy-go-lucky put smiles on everyone’s faces that made people hate John Cena. But the Roman Reigns who ascended to the top last night was the one we wanted to see from the beginning. We didn’t want to hate him because he was the one put in the position, but booing him became a necessity. We needed to voice our displeasure of WWE’s typical antics once again. However, he grew and evolved over time. Roman adapted to the hate and embraced it. Credit to him, but even more so to WWE for not pulling the trigger on a heel turn, for we would not witness this moment had we have to boo him because he was a bad guy.

I’ve watched Roman grow since he was that muscle-bound stalwart for The Shield. I never thought he would amount to much, unlike his former Shield brothers, but evolution is a funny thing. Roman, our chosen hero, now has evolved to most people as the hero who they wanted. Sheamus was the bad alternative, and because of that, Roman has now garnered the sympathy he wanted from the start from seemingly most of the fans. At least from what I’ve seen. Now it is all a matter of if Roman will continue to get the consistent treatment he received last night or if he will go back to the same cycle that brought him here. Surely he is set to face Triple H and possibly Brock Lesnar next year. If Roman has to go through the same process to begin 2016, through the frustration, I’ll go along for the ride.

Now some of you, I’m sure will disagree and say that this is nothing more than an isolated event and the pop he received was only due to the fact that he won, and surely, we need time to see how this plays out, and perhaps those of you who disagree with me will eventually be right, but I’m convinced that Roman at the very least will work hard to keep the momentum that he had. I’m sure most of you would rather see Seth Rollins still holding the strap, and I am one of them, but I say let’s give this guy a chance. Now let’s see how WWE screws this up.

Until next time. Happy Finals Week. Try not to die.

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