Why isn’t the Roman Reigns experiment working?
Some say it has, despite four consecutive WrestleMania main-event spots in a row without becoming the popular face of WWE. Roman says he’s the best in-ring performer in the world, Ryback thinks he’s great and Chris Jericho thinks he could get fans to love him. Then you have legends like Kurt Angle, Jim Ross and Steve Austin who realize the guy is talented, but that he’s not “The Guy” because there’s still so much work to be done.
Then there are the old school pro wrestling veterans without a lot of nice things to say. One of those is Bobby Fulton, multiple-time NWA territory, World Class and Smoky Mountain tag champ as one half of classic 1980s tag team The Fantastics. In an interview with the Pancakes & Powerslams podcast, Bobby said that Roman couldn’t have been a star back in the golden era of wrestling. In fact, Fulton insists he wouldn’t even have a job, because he’s not getting the job done.
“I’m-a tell you right now. If Roman Reigns was wrestling back in the day, they would have fired him already. Because he can’t get the job done if they hired him as a babyface. Jerry Lawler told me one time when I was breaking in the business, I was going out to the ring and was wrestling underneath – and underneath means that you’re at the bottom of the rung – and it got to the point where the people knew I was gonna lose when I walked to the ring and I was working in Memphis. I said, ‘man, the people are booing me when I walk to the ring!’ [Lawler] said, ‘well, maybe it’s time for you to go. You’re here as a babyface.’ And, like I said, if Roman Reigns was wrestling back in the day, and I mean I give all props to his family and where he comes from and who he is. But as far as getting the job done as a professional wrestler, even as a sports entertainer, he’s not getting it done because he is not able to make that connection with the people.”
When asked what WWE should do to fix the problem, Fulton went with an old classic shared by a big, sweaty chunk of the Internet: stop insisting that this is the direction you wanna go in and lean into the boos.
“The people just aren’t buying him. He needs to become a heel and just forget about it if Vince is gonna keep him hired. But if they’re gonna keep doing what they’re doing, then they need to turn him heel or get rid of him because he’s not gonna be an asset to the company and whoever he beats he’s gonna make them more popular just like Brock Lesnar. The more Brock Lesnar beat on him and bloodied him was the more the people got behind Brock. So, with that being said, if this would have been back in my day, Roman Reigns would either be a heel or be fired right now because he’s not getting the job done… Vince is trying to prove a point but he can’t prove it because it just ain’t gonna happen.”
What do you think? Would Roman Reigns have been a big star in the territories days of the 1970s and ’80s, or would he have been Ranger Ross in a flak jacket? Is there even a problem to be fixed, or is WWE mindful of what they’re doing with him, knowing that if they turned him heel we’d just cheer him instead of booing him? Let us know what you think in our comments section below. Bobby Fulton burns allowed.
(transcription h/t to 411)