Roman. Roman, Roman, Roman. For the past few years, he has certainly made a name for himself in sports entertainment. From his brief stint in american college football, like so many other wrestlers, Reigns jumped ship and decided a different career path. Eventually finding his way to professional wrestling. FCW, the WWE’s developmental program, now re-branded as NXT, was his first stomping ground. It was the success of The Shield, with his brothers in arms Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, that made everyone take notice of the “powerhouse” of the faction. Certainly in the eyes of the Chairman, Mr. McMahon. Roman has speared, Samoan dropped and Superman punched his way to the top. But not to our hearts. There are many that feel that the new face of the company should carry the industry to dizzying heights, and new levels of success. Sadly, the 265 pound Word Heavyweight Champion cannot seem to carry the weight on his shoulders and the Roman Empire is crumbling. They say Rome wasn’t built in a day. But after 5 years, there were surely more signs of promise, than what this young man has given to the impatient fans. Why isn’t it working for the chosen one?
Since the departure of the likes of Stone Cold, The Rock, and now the ever-increasing curtain call of John Cena, there hasn’t been a top guy to replicate their success. Their charisma, in-ring style, and electrifying performances have left a mark on the WWE that will last forever. Rocky’s work on the mic especially is something no one can compete with. Tall order to fill, but Cena proved he can be just as cocky and back his talking up with his fists. Like Roman, there is a hostility to John Cena when he enters an arena. Partially because many thought the transition from The People’s Champ to Cena was a step down. But Cena’s career is nothing to be sniffed at: 15 time world champion and his many services to the make a wish foundation, he is an ambassador for Sports Entertainment. Stone Cold on the other hand was a different kettle of fish all together. His attitude and sticking it to the man approach resonated with anyone who was tired of being told what to do and was an outlet for the working class who wanted nothing more but to stunner their bosses and give everyone the middle finger.
Of course comparing anyone to these 3 would be a disservice to the other people on the main roster, including Roman. These are big boots to fill. There are many that have found their character very quickly and easily. They’ve captivated audiences and have drawn people to arenas and stadiums all around the world. One man who has struggled to find what makes his character tick is Roman Reigns. Since the split from his comrades, he has been holding on to his angry, pout of a stare for the last 2 years. Since stabbing his friends in the back (or hitting them round the back with a chair) Seth Rollins has swaggered his way to the top of the crop, and becoming the best heel champion the business has seen for a long time. His matches with the likes of John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Brock Lesnar, have shown he can compete with anyone, revealing something new to add to his collection of already impressive moves. Since his injury, he as been sorely missed. Dean Ambrose has become a hot babyface and a favourite among many. The pop the lunatic fringe receives when his music hits is nothing short of admiration. He has found a funny side to his character, not to mention a “you can’t hurt me” approach that has many comparing him to the legendary Mick Foley. His orthodox style of wrestling also makes him appealing. Roman Reigns has been the one that has not stepped out of his friend’s shadow. Sticking with his protective vest like a security blanket. Performing the same tired moves every match, no personality on the mic. The act has become stale, and consequently, draws hostile reaction from the hardcore fans.
This isn’t a hate blog on Roman Reigns. He has a look that should be what the WWE would want in its top guy. Outside of the ring, he’s a very down to earth man, and… pretty cool. There are many things that could go Reigns’ way and help gravitate the crowd towards him. Too many times the WWE have had to protect Roman from getting such hatred and boos. This is not how you want to use your top babyface. Never has the number one contender competing on the grandest stage of all, Wrestlemania, said and done so little leading up to it, than Roman Reigns. Surely that is telling Vince something that he is just not getting over.
One of the many reasons it’s not working out for Roman is the way he is being produced. Too many times it is blatantly obvious he is being scripted. Granted, every wrestler has to go out and remember what they have to say to stick with the story lines. However, you can see from his reactions and the way he holds himself that he doesn’t feel comfortable. He looks lost and out-of-place. Wrestlers are given lines but then make it feel like it is coming from them. Roman just looks like he is reading a piece of paper, grabbing his paycheck and walking out the door. There is a problem in scripting feuds and not letting the superstars say things from the heart. They don’t feel natural or organic. The rivalries between Shawn Michaels/Bret Hart and Cena/Rock, to name but a few, would never have been that captivating if they went out and recited verses to each other. Roman can benefit from this way of thinking. Let the boy go out and say what’s on his mind. If they’re not comfortable in him talking on the mic without parental supervision, then it must be something they need to work on in order for him to work as a real Champion.
His set of moves in the ring is little to be desired too. His superman punch, spear and Samoan drop may have been more effective in a tag team as you have little time in the ring to get your moves in. But as a solo, seeing the same moves over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, like this sentence, becomes boring. There are many wrestlers that had limited capabilities in the ring: Hulk Hogan, Goldberg, even the Texas Rattlesnake himself. But their popularity and character made you excited to see them in the ring and cheer them on to see that big leg drop or stunner. The fact that Roman can’t find himself, makes it seem that he doesn’t have the confidence to try anything new so sticks to the same default moves. It would be like a comedian going out telling the same jokes. Eventually, people would get tired of your act.
The biggest buzz running around the world-wide web is the anticipated heel turn from Roman Reigns. This is an idea that many Roman haters would approve of. It would make the dynamic shift from trying to get people to like him, to trying to make him the nastiest heel around. The Rock was such a good heel, that it eventually become too impossible not to cheer him. This could work for Reigns. The size of Roman, he can be a bully. He can simply come out, beat on his opponent and walk out without saying a word. This formula has worked for Brock Lesnar, so it can certainly work for Reigns. Having Paul Heyman also by his side would make incredible amounts of money and be a new challenge for the ECW founder. If anyone can get Roman Reigns over, its Paul E Dangerously. Roman’s tactics in the ring would change dramatically too. He can cheat!!! He can hold the ropes, hold tights, use weapons behind the ref’s back, anything to get him over as a despicable heel.
The pool of wrestlers he can face when turning heel would be very deep indeed. The inevitable return of Seth Rollins will be a babyface reaction, so for Roman to be a cocky heel would be a great feud indeed. John Cena, Brock Lesnar, AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, Finn Balor, even The Rock would be matches that a lot of people wold want to see, even if it’s just to watch hoping he will drop the belt.
Unfortunately, The boss’s stubbornness means we’ll be seeing Roman Reigns as the top guy for a long time. But for a lot of his shortcomings, there are many avenues that WWE can go down to help The Champ’s career. To stick with the same routine would be ludicrous seeing as it’s clearly not working out the way they want it to. A leap of faith is what Roman Reigns and Vince McMahon has to do. Stepping out of that vest and going in another direction would be the best thing Roman Reigns can do.
By George Millard