WWE: What is the Problem with Roman Reigns?


Roman Reigns has been one of the most polarizing and discussed figures in professional wrestling for the better part of the last two years. However, the hardcore fans seem differ on what the “problem” with Roman actually is. Is there a problem?

Since the 2015 Royal Rumble in Philadelphia, PA, Roman Reigns has been booed out of many buildings despite being the chosen “face” of the company. It wasn’t Daniel Bryan, Reigns wasn’t ready, he was being pushed too soon, so on and so forth.

Since then Reigns has been booked to “look strong” despite crowd reaction and the narrative. His character has been booked as a very vanilla babyface and not the silent destroyer, he naturally seems to be. Most objective wrestling fans will admit that Reigns has talent and can put on a good (if not great) match.

However, that good to great match can go stale with a Super-Cena like comeback superficially erasing everything that happened previously in the match. A “SUPERMAN PUNCH” followed by a spear and 1-2-3 Roman wins. Mix that repetitive in-ring formula with Vince McMahon scripted promos and a character that has not evolved, at all, since 2014 during the days of the Shield and it is safe to assume that the problem is in the booking.

In the fall of 2015, Vince wanted to book Roman “strong” tried to get him over with the fans by booking him like Stone Cold Steve Austin. Vince had him feud with the Authority and the League of Nations in the same vein Austin feuded with the Corporation, beat down at the Royal Rumble included, then continued this very stale feud with Triple H. The booking of Triple H as a heel despite the majority of fans cheering the crotch-chopping COO would continue on to a very forgettable match at WrestleMania 32.

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Picture this. Roman Reigns still wins the title for the first time in the same way at Survivor Series 2015 due to a Seth Rollins injury vacating the title. At the end of the match with Dean Ambrose, his former Shield brother stays in the ring and wants to celebrate with him. Instead of Triple H coming out and extending his hand (Sheamus’ Money in the Bank cash-in, etc) out comes Mr. McMahon. Roman then shakes his hand and viciously beats down the lunatic fringe. Survivor Series 2015 ends with Mr. McMahon raising the new champs hand amidst all the confetti and chorus of boos.

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Going forward, Reigns could have been booked as Mr. McMahon’s chosen one, with the former’s motivation simply being that he wanted the WWE title by any means necessary. Reigns could still feud with Triple H until WrestleMania. In a worked-shoot angle, the Game would be booked as the face many of the hardcore fans already viewed him, as the “Creator” from NXT. Triple H would want the “New Era” talent (NXT call-ups) to get over because of their in-ring ability, not because they were chosen by Vince because “they have the right look.” The Big Dog would still be booked strong, go over Triple H at WrestleMania and hold the WWE title until the returning Seth Rollins would defeat him clean at Money in the Bank.

With that simple tweak in the booking, the perception of the three-time WWE World champion “being shoved down our throats” could be different. Many fans still feel he’s is being pushed too hard despite not holding a World title since Money in the Bank 2016. Since losing the title to Rollins, Reigns has lost every main even title match he has been in. He has also been pinned clean by the likes of Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt in that same time period.

Many fans who soured on Roman because of his 2015 push and believes any major storyline he is now involved in is similarly unwarranted and/or unwanted believing he will never get over. However, the former Shield man is over, just not in the way they wanted and is arguably the top heel in the company.

Recently, there has been the belief that the WWE is moving away from the traditional heel/face dynamic and the recent booking of Roman shows that. When Reigns came out at the 30 spot during the 2017 Royal Rumble they knew what the crowd reaction was going to be. He proceeded to eliminated the Undertaker and stare him down before eventually getting eliminated last by Randy Orton, thus ensuring the pop for Orton.

Even more recently on Raw, Reigns told Undertaker “this is my yard now” to set up a match at WrestleMania and then had an exchange with Shawn Michaels the following week. HBK came out to give Reigns advice, who really wasn’t hearing it. Going as far as saying the Undertaker should be worried about him and reminding Michaels that the Undertaker retired him and that he plans on retiring the Undertaker.

Roman dismissing Michaels’ advice was probably his best promo yet. It definitely was not the McMahon-scripted vanilla promos he was cutting one year ago. In fact, it seems that Reigns is the heel in this feud. He eliminated Undertaker, told the legend it is his yard now and then told another legend to keep his advice to himself. The fans traditionally boo Undertaker’s WrestleMania opponent and it does not seem like they are booking Roman to get cheered at the grandest stage of them all.

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The WWE needs to continue to book Roman Reigns like this, not like John Cena 2.0. The problem is not the product in-ring unless it is booking him to no-sell and Superman Punch his way to victory. The problem is not promos when the promo is Reigns keeping it short and sweet, no suffering succotash. The problem is not him getting over with the fans when he is already over in his own way. Believe that.