The World According to ZAH: Booing Roman Reigns

Funny jokeI spent the better part of last week on Twitter acting as a Roman Reigns defender. And y’know what? It’s exhausting. Trying to explain valid points to a Reigns hater is like talking to a brick wall. I’m not even the biggest fan of Reigns…but c’mon people, you really need to give credit where it’s due.

But let’s just go over the biggest anti-Roman reasons I received for why people don’t like him:

  • He can’t wrestle
  • He can’t promo
  • He’s not over / Nobody cares about him
  • WWE pushes him too hard

Ugh. The fact that these are even listed bothers me. Heaven forbid more truthful statements are made like “he isn’t the best wrestler” and “his promos aren’t written as if he’d actually say them”. No, instead they are black or white comments that display ignorance and stupidity about the business.

This is what I have to say to those “reasons”…

HE CAN’T WRESTLERoman Reigns 8

Not sure...To use a comparison that I’ve been throwing around for months now, to say that Roman Reigns can’t wrestle is the same as saying Nickelback can’t play music. You may hate Nickelback‘s music, but they’re talented musicians who play their own instruments, sing their own vocals, and write their own songs. To say they suck is one thing and you’d be 100% right to your own opinion on their music, but to suggest that they’re untalented is a completely subjective opinion created from personal bias and a factual error.

Is he Daniel Bryan inside of the ring? Hell no. Is he Eva Marie inside of the ring? Hell no.

Wrestling fans...You may not like the way he wrestles, but he is absolutely a solid in-ring performer. And whether or not you think he’s better than Dolph Ziggler or Cesaro is completely beside the point. Hulk Hogan became a superstar from using five moves. John Cena has only expanded his in-ring repertoire within the past few years and wouldn’t ever be mistaken for a Bret Hart.

Hell…I’d doubt anybody would consider Sting to be an in-ring technician by any stretch of the imagination, yet he had an incredibly successful career.

ReallyThe fact of the matter is that you don’t need to know all of the moves in the world or hit all of the flips and spots that you can in order to be a great wrestler. All you need to do is tell a believable story that draws people in. Whether or not you like his style, Reigns has developed into a really good in-ring storyteller. Compare his work in The Shield with what he’s doing on his own now: he’s light years ahead of where he was and better than a lot of the lower card and midcard guys (ex: Adam Rose, both members of The Ascension, Ryback, etc.).

So let’s be realistic here and ease off of the whole “he can’t wrestle” argument. It’s ridiculous.

HE CAN’T PROMO

Sufferin' succotashThis one bothers the hell out of me because, quite frankly, he’s one of the better talkers on the roster.

Roman Reigns 10The majority of the problem with Reigns is that he’s scripted…and what’s scripted for him isn’t a whole lot better than what’s been scripted for John Cena over the past decade (“poopy jokes”, anyone?). I was told on Twitter that people over-exaggerate just how good Reigns is on the mic. I’d dare argue that people REALLY over-exaggerate just how bad Reigns supposedly is with his promos.

Roman Reigns 6Obviously, when you’re scripted to try to be somebody that you’re not, the people are going to see right through it (ex: Emma playing a heel in NXT). For Reigns to talk about “sufferin’ succotash” or “tater tots” is silly fun for the PG-rated show and kids probably like that. For the majority of WWE’s live audiences, though, it hurts his character as a “bad ass” and makes them want to boo him for being lame as hell. That’s a completely valid argument against him but let’s Roman Reigns 13be honest here…fan favourites like Zack Ryder, Cesaro, and (yes) Dolph Ziggler are simply not able to effectively deliver a 10-minute promo to kick off RAW (and kids, if they COULD deliver those promos then they would have been given the opportunity because they’ve all done live promos over the years). Hell…even Daniel Bryan is a stiff promo that is only saved by the “YES” chants. You may not like what Reigns has to say, but he still does a pretty good job of saying it.

Having said that, I’m a firm believer that with Reigns “less is more”. He doesn’t need to come out and deliver a 20-minute RAW-opening promo…that’s just not him. That’s Rock or Cena or Rollins or McMahon or even Heyman’s territory. Reigns needs to come out, say a few words about how he’s going to kick somebody’s ass, and then end it. The promo needs to play into the role…and his role needs to be one as a bad-ass killer.

HE’S NOT OVER / NOBODY CARES ABOUT HIMReigns not over

This is one argument that has been thrown at me a lot by one individual, in particular. When he shows up on television, he’s met with a chorus of boos and polite applause with some girls and kids screaming in the background. Is it a “monster pop”? No, not by any stretch. But it’s a reaction…and it’s more of a reaction that the majority of the roster receives on television.

Roman Reigns 15Now is it the kind of pop that performers like Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose get? It’s arguable on some nights, but most of the time the answer is “no”. But the big thing that fairweather smark fans online need to realize is that the televised events are normally filled by hardcore fans. These hardcore fans are the ones who like to go against the grain of what WWE is trying to promote and then claim “it’s their right to cheer and boo who they want”. Sure, but they sometimes give a skewed impression of what’s actually going on.

Not overAnybody who has attended a house show over the past year that included a Roman Reigns match knows that he is over in a big way. I’ve done that and have seen the reaction and have heard the cheers. I have seen the merchandise and how “over” he is with the family audience. Do you have to like him? No, but to say that he’s “not over” or that “nobody cares about him” is simply an inaccurate statement to make. Completely.

Just look at the online merchandise being sold. On any given day, Reigns has merchandise all over the WWE’s “Best Sellers” list. Is he constantly the top seller? Not online, no. But before people start saying that AJ Styles is more popular than Reigns (ugh), just realize that Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe had t-shirts that were top sellers briefly after they were introduced to the WWE Universe. Over time, Reigns will continue to be a top seller. WWE merch sales

WWE PUSHES HIM TOO HARD He must look strong

I will absolutely agree with this point…at least within the past year. But if this was the 2014 Royal Rumble or the days before/after, then the internet would have been whining about how WWE wasn’t pulling the trigger on their biggest potential future superstar.

Internet fans have very short memory spans.

Leggo my EggoAt this point, though, the way WWE has been booking Reigns has been very Cena-esque. He’s constantly put into a “Superman” position and made to look strong when he wouldn’t need that if he was booked properly. He should be booked like Brock Lesnar, to be honest. He should be a monster who people have a very tough time putting away. The problem is that he’s booked to be “sympathetic”, but people just don’t see him that way. So when you have WWE trying to book him in old-school scenarios that would have worked for Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart but do not work for Reigns, Vince digs deeper into his “Wrestling 101” book of tricks to find the next way to get Reigns over and manipulate the WWE Universe into cheering for him.

Roman Reigns 16The problem, as you can imagine, is that the current WWE Universe don’t fall for that anymore. Whether you want to believe that the modern fans are “smarter” or not, the fact of the matter is that they will cheer for who they want to cheer for. If the fans have made up their minds that Reigns isn’t the guy they want to cheer for, then all of the booking decisions and pushes in the world won’t change that. In fact, it will turn the fans against the character.

Roman Reigns 7WWE still believes that they are in control…and for the most part, they are. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule (ex: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan), but when they try to push guys that the fans don’t really want to buy into (ex: Ryback) while refusing to get behind someone that the fans want them to push (ex: Cesaro) there tends to be backlash. It’s not all of the WWE Universe feeling that way, though…but this vocal minority is sometimes ahead of the curve. In the case with Reigns, WWE continuing to push him when he isn’t being booked the way fans want him to be is only making the situation worse.

*****

What if I told you...Now this isn’t to say that Roman Reigns SHOULD be pushed as the face of the company. I don’t think WWE can do that right now because of how they’ve bungled his singles run since the Shield split up. I firmly believe that WWE needs to turn Reigns “monster heel” and let him run roughshod over the roster over the next year or so. Then let the fans turn him organically. Let them dictate when to pull the trigger on his babyface turn and react to him the way they did at the 2014 Royal Rumble.

How many fucks...And yes, it’s 100% possible that it can happen. The arguments against Reigns are very similar to the ones given about John Cena, but those arguments are from a vocal minority who simply don’t like the guy because it’s cool to not like him. They think that the internet’s latest crush(ex: Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, Cesaro) should be the next WWE champion.

I don’t actually disagree with those arguments, but we’re talking about the long-term face of the company. And if you can’t see why those “crushes” can’t be the face of the company outside of the ring, then I don’t know what else I can say because…to me, at least…it’s obvious you don’t understand the business of sports entertainment.

This doesn’t mean I agree with all of WWE’s decisions, but when it comes to Roman Reigns I think it’s quite easy to understand why he’s the future of the company.

**********

This is just what I’m thinking, though. What are YOUR thoughts? Sound off in a comment below or hit me up on social media and let me know!

 

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