Welcome, cats and kittens, to the only source on the entire internet for opinions about how good Roman Reigns is at wrestling. Last week we kicked off our new weekly scouting project, to take a look at the entire WWE roster in this new era of fresh faces and turbulent change. We started with Triple H because he made us. Seriously, it was that or a cease and desist. That dude is not messing around.
Each week we’ll cover one major roster member. We’ll put on our lab coats and googles and put all the biggest players on the current WWE roster under the microscope. Except for the Big Show. We can’t zoom out that far.
Number 1 Contender For The WWE World Heavyweight Championship
He is, visually, the ideal WWE top star
Has grown into a great, physical style that is still evolving
Numerous built in feuds that will span his career
No one has ever gotten off on a worse foot to start a main event run
Still limited in the ring and needs to be protected
Not a strong promo
Cewsh: Ah, Roman Reigns. There is so, so much to discuss here, and so many misconceptions and arguments to seperate, that I think that it’s best that we tackle this in 3 parts.
In The Ring
Despite what you might have heard around the ol’ Twitter water cooler lately, Roman Reigns is not at all a bad wrestler. He isn’t great yet, or even very good, but he does a lot of little things right that most people don’t notice, or aren’t inclined to give him credit for.
For someone in his position, selling is an extremely tenuous issue, as he can never appear too weak, but he has to constantly be putting a new opponent over as a credible threat. You may recall this as being the big thing that we held against Cena for years, where his superman selling made everyone who faced him look like a chump until he finally sorted out what he was supposed to be doing. Reigns does not have that problem, and actually excels at selling in a way that works for his character. The best example of this is in his Wrestlemania match with Brock Lesnar, where he is thrown around like a sack of yams for 20 minutes, without ever losing his credibility, and actually came out of it looking tougher than ever. If anything, WWE doesn’t give him enough of a chance to explore this side of his skill set.
His finishers are marketable and very recognizable, and his time with the Shield gave him a fantastic feel for how to explode out of nowhere with a finish to really get a great reaction out of it. He’s blessed with superior timing in the ring as well, and has essentially mastered the limited amount of things that WWE is asking him to do. When you compare him to John Cena and Sting, the only two comparable pushes in the modern era, I would say that he is far more advanced than they were at similar points in their trajectories.
With that said, he IS still very limited. In longer matches he often seems to be waiting to be led to the next spot, and while he has good timing, his disconnect with the crowd leads to a lot of his spots not hitting the right note at the right time. Some of it is his fault and some of it isn’t. But I think he will be a top flight wrestler for WWE in a few years.
He sucks at them.
I’m really not trying to be mean here, but he is just not natural in any way. The Shield style of promo befitted him hugely, because he can use his A+ look and an intimidating snarl to deliver a one liner that hits like a ton of bricks. But when you’re asking him to emote because his friend got attacked, or asking him to match wits with top heels who are far more advanced on the mic than he is, it exposes him badly. WWE’s desire to let him keep going for it until he figures it out is questionable at best, because now he seems unsure of what tone to take from promo to promo. This is the same problem that Samoa Joe had when TNA was trying to make him a tv star. Trying to shoehorn someone with one skillset into another is not always going to work, and while i’m sure 10 years from now, Roman will be comfortable enough to get the job done, in the interim he’s shooting his character in the foot on a nightly basis.
The Crowd Reaction
Probably the single most important thing about Roman Reigns is something that he has almost no control over. The way the crowd reacts to him has often been compared to John Cena’s rise to the top, but that is a misnomer. Cena ALWAYS had the women and children in the audience, and indeed, that’s why the dueling chants were the hotly debated thing. Reigns has started to win over that group, but the support isn’t even close to enough to drown out the boos of people who hate what he represents, even as they ignore what he actually is.
In time, this will absolutely shift as he puts on respectable performances, and a new source of scorn emerges, but it’s going to be a tough road. Cena navigated it by steering straight into it, and acknowledging it on numerous occasions, while both he and WWE refused to bow to it. That can be accomplished here as well, but will be much harder without Cena’s promo skills to help it along.
Ultimately, Roman Reigns is the kind of prospect that promoters would bankrupt themselves competing for. The dark cloud over his career right night belies the real progress that he is making, and WWE doesn’t seem to care much about the reactions, and have settled into letting Roman get on the job training as a top guy. But consider one thing. As long as John Cena is still on the roster, Roman will never truly be the top guy in promotions, advertising, charities, house shows, and all the little other things that make the job so stressful and hard to hold onto. When Cena retires, this whole equation changes. And then we’ll see what Reigns really is.
Cewsh’s Grade: B+
Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar
That’ll do it for this Cewsh Scouts entry. Be sure to check back next week where we’ll take a detailed look at Roman Reign’s Shield partner, Dean Ambrose!