THE CASE FOR ROMAN REIGNS
Maybe I’m just very disconnected from the way current pro wrestling fan culture works, but I’ve never quite understood why fans get so bent out of shape when “their guy” doesn’t do “the thing”, at the time, in the place, just the way they want it to play out. I mean, it’s cool to have favorites, and want certain people to succeed based on subjective, perceived advantages and accomplishments, but the mob mentality of wrestling fans just seems to have spiraled out of control in recent years.
Do we hold other TV shows to the same standard? I know wrestling is largely its own strange, interactive entity. It’s a live performance, so you can argue that if you’re paying to sit in the crowd you have the right to react however you want to; but if you go to the circus and you wanted to see more elephants and less high-wire acts, you don’t start booing the high-wire acts until they bring out the damn elephants.
As lousy as the WWE story writers can seem sometimes, imagine how hard it is to craft a two or three month long story surrounding one guy you were told to write for, and then have to redirect the entire ship every week based on the ever-changing whims of the audience. I don’t envy that creative team one bit.
I’ve always liked Roman Reigns. It was clear from the start that he was the most inexperienced and unpolished member of the SHIELD, but damn if he didn’t look imposing every time he came out to the ring. Those shortcomings are why they packaged him with Rollins and Ambrose to begin with – to learn from two well-traveled indie guys who could show him the ropes in, and out of the ring.
If we’re being totally honest, Roman isn’t the best promo guy. He’s got work to do. But we also live in an age where the writing team has to answer to a half dozen different officials. And unless your name is Steve Austin, they hand you a piece of paper and tell you to go read it in front of 10,000 people – is it really his fault that his promos aren’t awe-inspired?
I want you to look at the ratings that Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter has given every Roman Reigns match so far this year. For obvious reasons, we’re not including the Royal Rumble. In case you’re not familiar with Dave’s work, all scores are out of a possible five points:
Fastlane (Daniel Bryan): 4.5
WrestleMania (Brock Lesnar): 4.5
Extreme Rules (Big Show): 4
Payback (Rollins, Orton, Ambrose): 3.75
Money in the Bank: 3.5
Battleground (Bray Wyatt): 3.75
SummerSlam (Wyatt, Harper): 3.5
Night of Champions (Wyatt Family): 4
The rating for Hell in a Cell isn’t in yet, but if I had to take a guess it doesn’t get lower than a ‘4’.
You can’t even use the excuse that he’s always “carried” through his matches by better performers. One of the best matches he’s had this year was against the BIG SHOW in a Last Man Standing match – in my opinion, traditionally one of the most boring match stipulations in existence. Even if that were the case, it’s not like everyone Daniel Bryan has ever wrestled had the ability to step up their game to a ‘4.5’ level match.
I guess I’m just not really sure why people hate Roman Reigns. His promos are a little cheesy and his character can feel a bit one-dimensional because of that, but he’s a great wrestler with a lot of in-ring potential that seems to be able to pull out good programs with just about anyone.
In fact, if you want his promos to get better, you should actually be cheering him. Let Vince know you support this guy, so he gets more microphone time, and officials start trusting him more to write and work his own material. Show some support and maybe his confidence goes up. Can you imagine looking at the last 7-8 years of John Cena’s career and thinking, “my god…they’re going to boo me forever aren’t they?” What do you think that does to a person?
I get that people don’t like being “told” who the next big guy is going to be, but at some point fans – and this is just my opinion, so of course, continue doing whatever the hell you want – need to enjoy WWE just like they enjoy other television shows. Tune in or set your DVR, watch it, talk about what you like and don’t like, and if it’s not your thing right now maybe go away for a bit and let the company know you just aren’t diggin’ what they’re cooking up.
I don’t think it really does anyone any favors to show up to arenas and boo Roman Reigns, because he’s not Daniel Bryan, or he’s not Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro, Dean Ambrose, etc. There’s room for everyone to be successful. Reigns is a good wrestler that has earned a spot in the main event. It’s time to start treating him like one.