By David Dickson, Columnist
As you know from my previous articles, I am a loyal, diehard, Wrestling fan. I have been for almost 31 years. I’ve been in the ring and I’ve booked. But, I will write these articles in a truly impartial way.
This week, I’d like to address Roman Reigns. Some people love him. Most of his fans are women, children, and African, Asian, and Arabian, fans. Most of them seem to love Roman Reigns, and that’s great. Anyone can be a fan of anyone they like, just like nobody has to be a fan of anyone they don’t like, just as long as people don’t confuse their opinions with the facts. And as I said in my last post, I respect every Wrestler that has ever stepped between the ropes. But, the sad fact remains that Roman Reigns is the most hated babyface in Wrestling history, and here is why…
It’s not simply a case of being a hater, or trying to be rebellious by booing the heroes. It’s not about a change in the times, where heroes get booed and villains get cheered. Of course, fans pay their money. They buy tickets, WWE Network subscriptions, merchandise, and they tune into the TV shows. They are entitled to express their customer feedback and entitled to expect value for their money. And as is apparent, most Roman Reigns fans aren’t the ones buying most of the tickets, or tuning in, each week. Nobody wants to hate Roman Reigns. But, the sad facts are these…
Roman Reigns has little experience. He’s only been Wrestling for 7 years, total, and many fans feel that’s not long enough to deserve the top spot. They think that Reigns has not earned a WWE World Tag-Team Championship, a Royal Rumble win, 3 Wrestlemania Main Events in a row, 3 WWE World Heavyweight Championships in less than a year, and a WWE US Championship. Many fans may also feel that he’s been handed everything. There is also resentment that the company sent out the wrong message when Reigns got suspended for failing a drug test, because it hasn’t changed anything for WWE.
And why would WWE do that? Because Roman Reigns is one of WWE Management’s chosen favourites. Because he has the muscular physique that WWE Management have always loved. Also, because he is part of a large influential family in this business, that includes The Rock, WWE’s connection to Hollywood, and one of the biggest Stars in the history of this business. So, of course, those family members get a rub. Plus, Reigns sells some t-shirts to children, so that’s always a bonus, for them.
But, fans also resent that, because lets face it, Roman Reigns just simply does not have all the skills necessary, to warrant being given the top spot. He doesn’t have the all skills needed, to back it up. Apart from the lack of experience, Reigns also has limited in-ring talent and a limited move-set. I’m not gonna say he can’t Wrestle. Obviously, he can. He just doesn’t possess the talent needed to be worthy of his position. He has no mic skills. And he doesn’t display any charisma. Sure, he has the look, but this isn’t Modelling, nor Bodybuilding. His character hasn’t moved on from The Shield, either. And Reigns has to win, more than he losses. This further frustrates fans, when they see more experienced, more talented, more charismatic, and more over Wrestlers, who can draw, getting held back, overlooked, or just plain buried.
WWE is not simply a t-shirt store. WWE’s Headliners need to be able to get over with the fans/customers/viewers. Get over with all of them. They need to be able to draw. Draw with all fans. And that don’t just go for babyfaces. The same has to apply to headlining heels, too. But, Roman Reigns isn’t meant to be a heel and he just can’t get over with the whole crowd, not in the right way, at least, and not how WWE are desperate for him to be. And Reigns cannot draw. He draws a few women and children, but that’s not enough. The majority of the audience do not pay to see Roman Reigns. Do not want to see, or hear from, Reigns. See, a great heel can still get over and still draw. Fans will pay to be entertained by great heels. Fans boo great heels, in the right way, but still enjoy their performances. As I said, Reigns is not supposed to be a heel. Most fans boo Reigns. They do not let him speak. They chant for him to “Go away!” That is never the right reaction for any Star. In the past, audience members have walked out of WWE Raw, before the end of the show, because the final segment was a Roman Reigns promo. That’s never good for business. Viewers have changed the channel, when Roman Reigns had come on screen. That’s never good for business. The above reasons I have listed are why this is happening.
Of course, the way Roman Reigns has been and continues to be booked, is partly to blame, but to be fair, booking him differently isn’t going to rectify all the problems that I have listed above. WWE should turn him heel. When he’s booed more than he’s cheered and booed more than any babyface, ever, they should concede and turn him heel. But, that’s not going to stop WWE from overkill booking. It’s not gonna make Reigns more talented in the ring, or have him develop some charisma.
These are similar reasons to why the same problem has been happening with John Cena, for the last 12 years, and it seems WWE are determined to repeat the same mistakes with Roman Reigns.
The Shield, as a whole, were hugely over and popular. And when Roman Reigns was in The Shield, his lack of experience, limited talent, lack of charisma, etc, were shielded, pardon the pun. He was carried by the 2 more experienced, more talented, more charismatic, and more over, members, who can draw. When The Shield split, that’s when WWE pushed him too hard, too fast, and that’s when his lack of experience, lack of skills, lack of charisma, etc, were exposed. So, that’s when the most loyal and diehard of longtime Wrestling fans began to turn on Roman Reigns.
WWE are stubborn. They cannot ignore these problems forever. Like I said in my last post, every aspect of WWE business is down. They have lost hundreds of millions of dollars, over the last 3 years. Ratings and attendances have declined to the lowest in 20 years. You’ve gotta attribute that partly to the chosen Headliner. WWE have to realise that they can’t keep flogging a dead horse. Things need to change. Before it’s too late.
As someone who has booked, in the past, here is what I would do with Roman Reigns. I’m sure the diehard Reigns fans would think this would be extreme, but I honestly believe this would be in the best interest of Roman Reigns, WWE, and the fans. I’d have him go on a losing streak. I’d have him be frustrated with that. I’d have him fall out of the Main Event picture, because of that. I’d have him blame this on the fans’ reactions to him, throwing him off his game. I’d have him come out and blast the audience. Officially turning him heel, at last. Then, I’d have him walk out and leave. I’d keep him off TV for several months. Let his fans miss him and give his haters a break from him. Give other talents a chance to shine. And in that time, I’d send him to the WWE Performance Center. I’d have him training and trying to improve every aspect of his skill set. I’d have him take more acting lessons, too. Then, when everyone was confident he was ready, I’d have him return to TV, as a heel, with new ring gear and new entrance music. I’d then have him start at the bottom and work his way up the ladder. WWE have tried so many things to make Roman Reigns work and none of it has worked. I truly believe this could be the only way he will ever work. Continuing the way they have been will just do more damage, in the long run. And if that still didn’t work, then the only wise business decision would be to release Roman Reigns. WWE cannot allow their egos to negatively effect business.
Until next time, I’ve been your Timekeeper, Davey Dickson, and this has been my bottom line.