This may be a bit premature, with Backlash just around the corner, but I’m wondering; has the shine gone from the character of Roman Reigns and is he on a downward slump that he may struggle to recover from? Hear me out before I continue; I’m a fan of Roman and have said so many times. I like the guy, his work and matches. I don’t think he coasts along, nor takes anything for granted. He’s been elevated into a prominent position in WWE, and that’s not his fault. If any of us were promoted by the boss and earning bigger paychecks, would we really argue with the management? So, although I’m a fan, I’m beginning to think his push is slowing or that maybe WWE isn’t thrilled in having him be ‘the guy’ for much longer.
It’s been widely reported that WWE has for a long time been a big supporter of Reigns and have pushed his character to the moon. They see him as the biggest star on the roster and a face of the company for years to come. While I wholeheartedly agree that WWE should think long-term in their planning, history has told us that the manufactured, hand-picked stars of tomorrow don’t always work out. Sometimes an organic change within the company – enhanced by crowd reactions – can make a star right before our eyes. That star may not be in the mold management wants, but they may have no choice in backing this crowd favorite and cash in on their popularity. It makes little sense not to since WWE is a business at the end of the day and it’s all about the money. Personal opinion and ego should be set aside for the greater good. Sometimes the boss doesn’t know best and should take direction from the signs they see and hear around them. For examples; see the Ringmaster who became Stone Cold Steve Austin, or the diminutive wrestler who was fired for throttling an employee only to return as Daniel Bryan, one of the most popular wrestlers in recent memory. CM Punk would fit that mold too.
Where does Roman Reigns fit into all of this? Let’s start with the Shield. This faction was successful and gained great crowd reactions because the whole was greater than the sum of their parts. They were rag-tag, vigilantes and legit tough. Their popularity skyrocketed and the fans were enamored with them. They were freakin’ awesome. Come the inevitable breakup and Roman was earmarked as the future star of the group – that’s not to be dismissive of Seth Rollins or Dean Ambrose, who have both gone on to have incredibly successful careers of their own. But for Roman, the way forward was set, in that he was to inherit the mantle of the aging John Cena. Reigns was going to be the biggest face in WWE since Hulk Hogan or the afore-mentioned Austin. But it didn’t quite work out that way.
It was clear from the beginning that WWE was going to be very clear on Roman Reigns when it came to the fans: “This is the guy. This is your guy. You’re going to adore and cheer him for years to come.” And the fan’s response? “No, thanks.” It’s not for the want of trying, as Roman was given to us in every possible scenario to have us get behind him. He ran in to save vulnerable stars, he took on bullies, he got beat up so much he was stretchered out of arenas, he talked trash, he went for cheap pops, but nothing has clicked in the past few years to elevate his popularity to the level of Punk, Cena or Bryan. I don’t blame the fans or Roman for that, but WWE played this all wrong by forcing him on us as our savior. We didn’t need him, nor want him, yet WWE insisted on doing it. A heel turn could’ve worked wonders, as the best faces usually start out as heels, but WWE knew best and despite every blatant opportunity that presented itself to WWE, they ignored it and kept on giving us good guy Roman who would eventually win us over.
I’m not even blaming Reigns for any of this. He’s played his part well and done everything that has been asked of him. Recently he’s been unlucky in feuding against a lazy Brock Lesnar who does absolutely nothing for the Universal Championship. It was these recent matches (at Wrestlemania and the Greatest Royal Rumble) that have confirmed my thinking that Reigns isn’t going to continue down this road for much longer and he needs to be taken out of the title chase for a while. These were two of the biggest shows WWE will produce this year and with huge crowds in attendance, it was the perfect opportunity to crown a new champion. WWE didn’t pull the trigger, not once, but twice. Whether you believe audibles were called to change the finishes, or the powers that be want to drag this feud on for longer (please, no), perhaps WWE isn’t seeing Roman as the next Universal Champion.
Maybe WWE wants to have Brock hold the championship long enough to eclipse CM Punk’s WWE Title reign of 434 days (let’s face it, would we be surprised?), or maybe they’re blinded by Brock’s size and presence so much that they’re willing to have him cross-brand with UFC to boost the popularity of WWE? Maybe the lukewarm or loudly negative crowd reactions to Roman have finally taken their toll. Perhaps market research is hitting home in that WWE need to do something as the main title on their show is fast becoming a joke – maybe it already is? The point is WWE didn’t feel the time was right to switch the belt over to their chosen one and on two of the biggest events in the year. The question has to be asked; why?
Hey, maybe I’m wrong and WWE will continue to push on regardless, but with the popularity of Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe and many others, perhaps WWE need to have a rethink on how to proceed. I’m not saying Roman Reigns should be fired or kept off TV, but perhaps taken out of the spotlight for a while and given some feuds not involving Brock or leading to the Universal Title. How about a change of look or music? Maybe a change can be as good as a rest both for Roman and for WWE, plus it gives someone else the opportunity to take advantage and WWE can push a fresh face into the title picture for a while. Whatever the decision, I hope it works out for WWE and Reigns. As I’ve said, I’m a fan of the guy and wish him the best, I just hope he can be given more chances to shine that fans will enjoy.