Roman Reigns won the Royal Rumble and is headed to the main-event of WrestleMania 31 to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. What went wrong?
Isn’t that the weirdest combination of sentences? For today’s Friday Wrestling Conversation, let’s try to get to the bottom of what does and doesn’t work about Roman, what we could do (if given infinite power) to “fix” him, and where to take him after that. It’s an interesting question that every single wrestling fan on the planet has a lengthy response to.
The “Positive” Point Of View: Roman is fine, the Internet’s just a bunch of nitpicky jerks who don’t know anything about wrestling and masturbate to Daniel Bryan matches, and we should wait to see where it goes.
The “Negative” Point Of View: Roman isn’t ready, he’s dickriding The Shield almost a year after The Shield broke up, he cuts promos like an off-brand cartoon character and he’s just an entitled, muscular mannequin with two faces: “sexy” and “confused.”
As always, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
My theory is that we can’t get behind Roman because he’s not “Roman.” He’s the idea of a popular wrestler. We liked and praised him as part of The Shield because he served a clear, useful purpose: he was the good-looking strong guy who’d punctuate promos and run in to hit impactful power moves to punctuate matches. Ambrose and Rollins would do the heavy lifting, Reigns would bring it home. He was fast, strong and dynamic. He was part of a thing that almost always meant “good wrestling.” Good matches, great moments, all of it.
Now he’s got the Shield music and the Shield gear without the Shield. He’s the outer casing of the group without anything inside. WWE has made the call to say Roman is “The Shield” as one guy and expect us to feel the same way about the 1-man version as we did the 3. So he shows up acting like Sheamus, and all we can do is wonder what the f*ck they’re doing, and remember how good it all used to be. Sheamus is the same way. He’s a guy who got thrust into a main-event spot before he’d become a valuable thing in our brains, and spent years afterwards languishing in this stale-ass purgatory where he’s good as shit at wrestling, but absolutely not what we want to see.
At the same time, we’re fueled by second-to-second observation and social media. Roman’s under a microscope, so seriously any minute flaw in his game will be blown up and used as an excuse. I do it. You probably do it, too. The feeling is that he can’t win with this crowd, so they’re just gonna do what they want to do and expect everybody who “gets it” to come around.
So what’s the answer? How do you get Roman Reigns to a place we can all love again? Smark, mark, whomever? What’s the plan? Let us know in the comments section below.