Roman Reigns is never going to get the crowd reaction WWE want him to. That much has been made extremely clear in recent weeks. As Wrestlemania build-up reaches its culmination, the villainous authority figure who put his companies belt around his own waist gets cheered by the fans, while the handsome big Samoan version of Daniel Bryan the company actually give a fuck about gets booed when he returns to attack that villain after 2 weeks off TV. If there was even the slightest hint of sympathy from the fans towards him he would have least got some polite cheering for his return. He came down the aisle ffs, that in itself should have had enough shock factor to interest people considering the fact he’s been putting his life on the line since his debut by coming through the crowd and risking a bunch of thirsty maws pouncing on him. It got nothing. When he started throwing Triple H over tables and all that carry on. Fuck all but booing. At one point it felt like they’d finally nailed it a few months back as Roman’s pursuit of the WWE Title continued to hit speedbumps, he finally decided he’d had enough and battered the living fuck out of Triple H, while quietly whispering insults about how he could smoke a cigar in the shower in his ear. A physical AND mental doing for the king of beaks. Then they fucked it. They always do. They make him talk and they ruin it every fucking time. Why can’t they see this when each and every outside observer can.
Pro Wrestling is one of the most diverse art-forms in the world because there’s so many different ways to be great at it. As long as you find what works for you and apply it to a strong character, fans will catch on. Play to your strengths and make sure you’re placed in situations that highlight those strengths, and fans will react the way your character is supposed to make them react. Easier said than done I imagine, but not rocket science. Roman Reigns strengths lie in his physical gifts and his ability to look like an unstoppable juggernaut when he strings it all together. His journey wrestling wise is similar to that of Scott Hall aka Razor Ramon. A guy who came in with the right look and size, but didn’t know how to wrestle. Scott Hall came into wrestling with no experience and learned on the job. He slowly got better as he figured out how it all worked and became a very capable wrestler. Never anything special, but good enough that when you combined it with his character he was effective.
Roman Reigns has followed a similar path and improved year upon year wrestling wise. Logic would tell you that if he continues to wrestle high level opponents in main event situations, he’ll only keep getting better and his level of ability right now makes him more than worthy of main event status. Even if you prefer 50 other guys, to claim he’s not good enough to main event PPVs is absurd. Charisma free wannabe Shawn Michaels cunts like John Morrison snidely downplaying his abilities in interviews just makes them look bitter. John Morrison is undoubtedly a much better wrestler than Roman Reigns, but I’d have Reigns in my main event over him any day because flares and shiny hair does not make for an interesting character. As Johnny Mundo found out himself when WWE dropped him like bad habit. The reason he’s better than a talented bore like Morrison, who manages to be even less likeable than Dolph “Da Joke” Ziggler is these days, is simple. He gets SOMETHING. They react to him. Often by booing, and for me that’s where WWE are missing a trick. Why continue to employ Roman Reigns to do a job he can’t do as the top face in the company, when he’s clearly very good at a job they aren’t asking him to do. Being the bad guy.
Maybe it could have worked for him as a face. The main reason it hasn’t is his promo work. It just isn’t very good. If that’s down to the material they give him more than the way he delivers it, it still doesn’t matter. It maybe not being entirely his fault isn’t relevant, what’s relevant is that it that his promo’s are largely shite and something has to change. When a guy is asked to deliver promo’s they don’t believe in, you can tell they don’t believe in it. It always sounds forced and cheesy. That’s how Roman sounds every time he gets on the mic. Aside from some of the stuff during his feud with Bray Wyatt, it always feels like he’s reading it off a Teleprompter while being told to smile like a goon no matter what he’s saying. WWE seem to think everyone has to at least be decent on the mic but that mentality is the chief reason he has struggled to make a connection as a good guy, because for a guy who tells us to “Believe that!” so often, he rarely says anything worth believing in. Again, probably not his fault but at this stage it doesn’t matter whos fault it is, what matters is that the fans are booing, and instead of turning that booing into cheering, why not turn that booing up to a volume that is probably unsafe for human exposure. Why not burst an eardrum or two, and make Roman Reigns the bad guy all the girls want (aye that was a Bowling For Soup reference, fight me aboot it) because he’s not the next John Cena. His boo’s can’t be ignored because it’s commercially beneficial to do so. The audience is telling you how they feel about this guy and chucking them a deaf ear at every turn is helping no one. Make it happen. Make Roman bad again.
Seeing him do the same thing week in week out since The Shield broke up makes it easy to forget that when the group debuted, they were popular baddies, but baddies nonetheless. Roman and Seth Rollins had a decent run with the tag belts where they were bad bastards as well. Roman Reigns as a baddie makes his promo work a lot simpler too, no reason to try and make anyone laugh, or drop some slick knicker dropping patter, because being as much of a villain as humanly possible will make knickers drop anyway, and bad guys aren’t supposed to be funny. Roman Reigns as a bad guy also has a ready made hero to feud with in Dean Ambrose, who seems to have finally emerged from a solid year of stagnation to regain a bit of his spark. Wrestlemania is the perfect place to make it happen with both of them going against such high-profile guys. Brock Lesnar will obliterate Dean Ambrose but as long as he does it in a similar way as the way he done it with CM Punk at Summerslam 2013, Dean Ambrose will emerge from that match with his stock as high as its ever been. A majorly popular Dean Ambrose with momentum, needs a baddie. A baddie who was once his best pal in the world, but now cares for nothing but taking names and shiny belts. If the plan is Roman Reigns beats Triple H and ends Wrestlemania 33 standing tall as WWE World Heavyweight Champion, they will boo him. They’ll boo him loud and proud. Why not give them something to boo?
Maybe instead of doing the cliché thing and celebrating with people who for the most part aren’t sharing in his joy, why not make their fucking hearts stop. Why not have Roman Reigns beat Triple H clean, and instead of revelling in the win and winking at aw the burds like a hero should, he continues to beat the living shit out of Triple H. A beaten legend more than he is an authority figure at that point. Beat him mercilessly until his wife, who may or may not have lost her job at that point depending on how Shane gets on juking and jiving around a big cage with The Undertaker, has to come out and beg for her husband’s life. Why not end Wrestlemania with the most thunderous double turn in WWE history. Triple H becomes a martyr and Roman Reigns becomes the biggest villain in the company overnight. The following night on RAW its a different Roman. He comes down the aisle in a suit, with that belt over his shoulder finally looking like a guy who can carry it in the long-term. A ready-made feud with Ambrose lying in wait, before Seth Rollins comes back to an earth shattering pop to regain what’s rightfully his. It won’t happen, but we can but dream. It has to get to a point where WWE realise trying to get him to connect with the fans in his current form just isn’t going to work no matter what they try, and rather than give up with a talented marketable guy, they have to do something else. Something different. Something BELIEVEable.