You want a hot topic? Let’s talk about Roman Reigns. Firstly, I want to stress that I’m neither a big fan or hater of his work .. but I do share the views of many. Does he entertain me? No, not much. There’s been moments where I’ve been impressed, but they have been few and far between. I enjoyed his work in The Shield, but it was obvious he was the least experienced and needed help from his stablemates. This is where I highlight the problems with his push since The Shield dissolved. I’ll try to be as unbiased as I can, as I don’t wish to upset his fans.
After The Shield disbanded, Rollins and Ambrose got their own entrance themes, while Reigns kept, and still uses The Shield theme. Rollins and Ambrose changed their attires and branched out as singles competitors who could work solid matches, and both were capable of showcasing their mic skills. Meanwhile, Roman continued to use the same attire, and the lack of promo skills combined with repetitive ring work became far clearer. I found a video which does a good job of describing the reasons why some dislike his character and push.
Did you manage to watch the video? If not here’s a summary with more detail:
- Poor Mic Skills – Despite going through NXT and acting classes, Reigns still managed to botch his scripted lines. In the old days wrestlers were expected to improvise promos, but in recent years WWE has scripted promos for those who need it, whereas those who can are given some freedom. It’s not just a few botches, his facial expressions, pacing, and catchphrases pale in comparison to his cousin The Rock.
- No Charisma/Personality – While Ambrose and Rollins had key moments which evolved their characters, Reigns didn’t. The same personality remains, and there’s not much to it. He finds it difficult to show emotion, but the one time he showed anger and frustration I praised it and hoped it would continue; but more on that later.
- “Has The Look” – It’s difficult to take Reigns seriously when fans know he’s being pushed because of his appearance. He looks good on posters and in media interviews, and Vince likes to favour photogenic wrestlers .. so it only adds to the fans frustration. They know he’s being pushed for that, and not because he’s a skilled wrestler with charisma and genuine backing.
- Pushed Quickly – There’s only a handful of wrestlers who were capable of quick pushes and not be resented by the fans. Cena had the same treatment, yet he had a following and his merchandise was selling like hot cakes so it made sense. This isn’t about Cena, but fans see the parallels and they resent the fact he’s going to be “shoved down our throats” no matter how they react. Vince is telling us who to like, and they boo Reigns to tell Vince he’s got the wrong guy again.
- Family Ties – Fans resent the current generation of the Anoaʻi family as they get guaranteed careers, and only because the previous generation brought so much. Yokozuna, Rikishi, Umaga, The Rock, three Hall Of Famers (Rock will be eventually), and Umaga was pushed in to matches with Cena and other main event stars. It seems that members of the family have an unfair advantage over more talented guys who don’t belong to a wrestling family. Does WWE owe the family? Do they do it to keep The Rock and Rikishi sweet? Or do they feel bad because Yokozuna and Umaga died so young? Whatever it is .. it doesn’t seem fair, and that’s where the resentment stems from.
- Limited Moveset – Drive By (dropkick from floor to head), Leaping clothesline, Multiple corner clotheslines, Roll-up lifted into a sitout powerbomb, Samoan drop, Superman punch and the Spear. Sounds like the only moves he has right? Wrong. Reigns has more moves, but he doesn’t use them. Below is a video of moves he’s done before, and I guess the real question is .. does he purposely limit his moves, or is he being told to limit his moves?
Change It Up?
With Reigns as current WWE World Champion, is it too late to change it up? I don’t think so. There’s some simple methods that could be used to salvage the fans perception of him before he’s forever labelled as “polarizing”. I’m not against him getting a push, and I’m certainly not against anyone liking Reigns as he is right now (although I’ll admit I won’t understand why), but he could easily evolve and be more than he is.
I know nothing we suggest is going to change anything, but it doesn’t hurt to discuss it and suggest positive resolutions instead of booing the guy who’s doing his job. I didn’t appreciate it when Roman said the fans can’t critique his work because we’ve never been in a ring; that’s like AJ Styles criticizing wrestling fans for praising his work .. because we’ve never been in a ring to know how good he is.
As wrestling fans, we have the right to like or dislike a wrestler for any reason. While some may parrot others opinions, there are fans who can accurately describe their dislike without being petty and childish. Of course, you have fans who are sucked in to kayfabe (if it still exists) and are generally easier to please because they will eat what they’re fed and move on with life. But not all are that way .. many like to compare wrestlers and appreciate those who have it all. On this occasion, Roman doesn’t come close to having the attributes we expect of “The Face Of WWE”, or “The Man”.
In recent times the only changes we’ve seen from Roman are 1) his attire, and 2) no longer coming through the crowd during his entrance. He’s also expressed that he’s not a good man, or a bad man, he’s THE man, which (to me) sounds more like a heel than the role model he’s portrayed as in media appearances. So I’m going to suggest some changes to his presentation and hopefully you don’t come with your pitchforks and burn me at the stake for at least trying to find solutions to something we have to live with.
- Change Entrance Theme – Sadly, the theme hasn’t got the excitement behind it anymore, and as long as he continues using it .. he’ll be forever stuck in Shield mode. He needs a new tune for a new era of his career, and we should never hear the theme again; unless The Shield reunite.
- Mouthpiece – I can’t see Reigns magically acquiring Rock-like wizardry on the mic anytime soon, and I know this has been said before .. “give him a manager”, but it’s not as simple as that. He needs someone who genuinely wants to get him over without insulting the fans, and it’s difficult to suggest anyone who can. Personally I would hire Rikishi as his manager and let the big guy do the talking. He’s family, and shouldn’t be too busy like Rock. Also he could mentor his sons a little and try instill some charisma in the new generation. I thought of other managers .. but they don’t fit. Also I want to see Reigns do the dance .. because it’s stuff like that which shows he can enjoy himself and not take the job too seriously.
- Turn The Usos Heel – The above point where I explained family ties is relevant here. Have The Usos turn heel and feud with Reigns (and Rikishi if possible), and separate them on TV afterwards. It would be personal for Reigns, and it wouldn’t be over a championship so he could learn something. When a wrestler can make it sound like they genuinely hate their family members for turning on them .. it’s a step in the right direction. Reigns needs something like that more than he needs another championship win. Hell .. even go as far as have The Usos cost him the title. Anything to break the Samoan family up on TV, and even more importantly .. don’t have The Rock endorse Reigns til he’s earned the right to say he’s over.
- Embrace The Audience – When Reigns is booed, you can tell he hates it. He’s said it bothers him in interviews, but he’s also said he’s learned to block it out. Why ignore the fans? It’s not going to help anything, it’s going to make it worse. When someone attacks your credibility, do you ignore it and hope no one noticed? No! You tell the person they are wrong, you explain why they are wrong, and even more importantly, you know when to move on. Reigns has to embrace the hatred and play the good guy for his followers, and the bad guy for those who hate. Cena learned how to do it, he learned how to play both and the result was he would get huge reactions (doesn’t matter if it was mixed .. WWE only cares if everyone is reacting in some way) which added to the excitement of a main event match.
- Experiment With Attires – Yes, he’s finally changed his attire for the first time in over two years, but he needs to continue trying new attires. Most main event wrestlers change it up over the years, even if it’s subtle. This ties in with evolving his character; so if Rollins can do it, Reigns can too.
- Broader Moveset – I have a strong feeling Reigns is being told to hit his signature moves and get them over before anything else. But it’s not working because many are tired of seeing the same match week in, week out. If he’s being told to do it, then there’s not much anyone can do because it’s Cena all over again. Cena proved he could wrestle when he fought the likes of Shawn Michaels and CM Punk, but he was told to restrict his moveset, and he kept to his moveset like a religion. Reigns is probably going to do the same, and by doing so it’s only going to grind at the minds of wrestling fans who like to see athletic contests with talented wrestlers.
- Get PISSED OFF! – When Reigns snapped and destroyed HHH at TLC 2015, I was all for it. I enjoyed his demeanor for the first time in ages, and I was praying it would continue. Sadly it didn’t and he reverted back to his calm self. Why have a monster like Reigns and have him portray a calm individual? TLC 2015 gave us the Roman Reigns I wouldn’t mind seeing when a feud heats up, and if he was able to maintain that aura against other heels .. fans might think about cheering him.
- Pair Him With The Best Workers – I played Chess when I was younger, and one of the first lessons I learned was “The only way you will get better is if you lose to better players, and if you keep beating worse players, they will improve while you stay the same”. It’s the same in wrestling, the only way you will improve is if you work with better wrestlers, and it’s even better in wrestling because it’s not a real contest; both wrestlers work together towards the same goal. Reigns has been paired with the likes of Lesnar and HHH, two guys who have star power .. but neither are going to pick up the pace and make Reigns work harder than he ever has. Remember the match with Daniel Bryan? It was good, and it wasn’t just because of Bryan. Reigns is one of those who needs to be pushed in to having a good match, much like when The Ultimate Warrior fought Rick Rude and Randy Savage.
Roman considers Bret Hart his wrestling idol. Bret recently criticized WWE for booking Reigns in the same storyline Daniel Bryan had before them; except this time it didn’t work. He also said that Reigns was mishandled at the Rumble, as he shouldn’t have been removed from the match, and should have won the match in the end. He felt the fans would have respected him more if he went from start-to-finish without being stretchered out and returning later.
Just like Cena before him, Reigns is a prime example of a guy who spent most of his early career in WWE development, and he was essentially the “Face of the Performance Center”. WWE wanted to show that the Performance Center can make stars who haven’t been through the indies and picked up “bad habits”. While it makes good business sense to show one of your valuable assets delivering results, it’s too forced for the wrong reasons.
One of the biggest blows to Reigns’ career was the loss of Seth Rollins. With The Authority firmly behind Rollins, Reigns was taking the long route to becoming WWE Champion, and it would have ended with him finally overcoming Seth Rollins and The Authority at Wrestlemania. Rollins did a great job at getting the fans to hate him, so he was the natural rival for Reigns to beat, and if it had happened that way, Reigns might not be booed as much as he is now. But Rollins was injured, and WWE had invested so much time in him, so they had to revert to “Plan B”, which was pushing Roman as the new face. This led to fans hoping Ambrose would be the face, as he had the ability in the ring and on the mic, but it wasn’t to be .. and therefore another reason to hate his push.
I don’t hate him. I hate his limitations, and I don’t like how WWE mishandled the booking and his character. While I continue to watch the product and hope he develops, I’m not going to hold my breath. At the end of the day, Reigns is just one guy on the roster, and I don’t care to respond. What fans don’t seem to understand is .. and I’m going to caps lock/bold this for dramatic effect ..
SILENCE IS DEADLY!
If you are a wrestling fan who either a) doesn’t care, or b) hates his push, do the right thing by remaining silent during his entrance, matches, and directly after. Just sit there in silence with no reaction, because booing the guy tells Vince “at least they care enough to boo”. Do the same on social media too .. any post about Reigns, ignore it! Hell, I’m going to go as far to say you should ignore this article! Don’t go in the comments section and write 60 paragraphs on why you hate Roman Reigns .. because it’s reacting and that’s what WWE wants!
Ok .. please don’t ignore my article, because I’m hoping I’ve managed to deliver some good points and I worked hard on it. I’m not sure what else to say, so I’ll finish by asking for your opinions on the subject. Does he deserve the negativity? Is it entirely his fault .. or should we blame WWE? Had Rollins not picked up the injury, would Reigns be a 3-time champ now? And finally .. do you have any logical ideas WWE could implement to improve his overall package? Lol .. overall package, I’ll try not to use that again. So just like the end of the latest season of Walking Dead, Lucille and I have some business to take care of. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you again soon!