JC’s Top Rope Report: How The WWE Ruined Roman Reigns

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Here we are again. We’re heading into Wrestlemania and there are questions about the main event of the biggest show of the year. You have to go back to Wrestlemania 28 to remember the last time the WWE put together the right main event (John Cena vs The Rock). At Wrestlemania 29, Cena/Rock 2 was never the right way to go. The WWE couldn’t make that match interesting the second time around. While the WWE ended up making the right call for Wrestlemania 30, it wasn’t until a complete fan revolt took place that the WWE changed their minds. Then at Wrestlemania 31, the WWE went with Reigns/Lesnar. I defended it at the time, and the match ended up being very good, but the build caused a lack of buzz heading into the show.

Now we go into Wrestlemania 32, and the WWE still hasn’t learned its lesson. The WWE World Heavyweight Championship is on the line as Triple H defends the Title against Roman Reigns. Just absorb that last sentence for a second. First of all, Triple H is not only main eventing Wrestlemania but is also WWE Champion in the year 2016. Yes injuries have played a part in that, but it also goes to show how bad a job the WWE has done building up new talents yet again.

Then we have Roman Reigns, a wrestler who has been nothing but rejected by the fans since his split from The Shield. We know the WWE sees Reigns as the chosen one and the next John Cena of the company. At least with John Cena, the fans cheered him and got behind him before they turned away. And at this point in his career, I think a lot of fans boo Cena just to boo him. Cena always gets a bad rap from the Internet community. But the facts are the guy busts his ass in the ring and puts on quality matches almost every time. His run in 2015 may be the best of his career. Cena also worked his way from the bottom to get to the spot he earned today. Roman Reigns never did that. He was put right into a hot act in The Shield, and the WWE fed him his role from the moment he debuted.

If the WWE wanted Roman Reigns to be the next top guy in the WWE, they did a bad job of getting him there. He played his role perfectly in The Shield. But the second that group split, Reigns was ruined. He barely seemed phased by what Seth Rollins did. Meanwhile, Dean Ambrose made it his life mission to end Seth Rollins. Then as it became clear that Reigns was the favorite to win the 2015 Royal Rumble, the fans rejected him. It didn’t help that he was going up against the ultimate fan favorite in Daniel Bryan. I remember giving the WWE credit for going all in on Reigns. But they completely botched the build to the match. And even afterwards with Seth Rollins cashing in, Reigns pretty much blew it off afterwards and moved on to a feud with Big Show.

And by the time the WWE put Roman Reigns back in the Title picture, they did nothing noteworthy to change what was already wrong with Reigns. And when the WWE gave us that two week glimmer of hope with Reigns beating up HHH and winning the WWE Title, they went and screwed it up by making the Royal Rumble all about Roman Reigns. Reigns couldn’t even be in the final two because the WWE knew the crowd would crap on the ending. Then in the build up to Fastlane, Reigns was pretty much the third wheel to Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar. And lets not forget the fact that the Authority did everything to get the WWE Title off Roman Reigns, THEN PUT HIM IN A MATCH TO WIN THE RIGHT TO FACE THE CHAMPION AT WRESTLEMANIA.

For some reason, the WWE hasn’t looked at their own history when it comes to how to book Roman Reigns. Every star that ended up being a top guy in the WWE had a good heel run before they got to the top: John Cena, Shawn Michaels, The Rock, even Hulk Hogan was a heel in the AWA before he became a face. The WWE had numerous opportunities to turn Reigns heel. He could’ve turned on Rollins and Ambrose. He could’ve become The Authority’s bodyguard/muscle man similar to what Diesel did for HBK. The perfect scenario would have seen Reigns taking Triple H’s help and winning the WWE Title at Survivor Series. It would have set up a potential Reigns/Ambrose WWE Title Match at Wrestlemania. But Vince McMahon is completely set on doing something, I’m sure it is hard to sway his opinion.

I’ve come off pretty damning of Roman Reigns so far here, but I really do want to see him succeed. I don’t think I ever wanted to see anyone fail (ok maybe Eva Marie). Everyone should be given a shot to succeed and I’ve seen enough from Reigns that he could be a top guy if booked the right way and surrounded with the right environment. He was over with The Shield, and I immediately point to the Survivor Series elimination match where he came back on his own and won single-handily.

But the WWE continues to shove Reigns down our throats, when they needed to let everything about him come along naturally. Just look at Batista. He was the muscle of Evolution, and he slowly gained a cool/cocky edge as the group went on. Nothing about Batista’s rise to the top felt forced. The same could be said about John Cena. And again if you go farther back in WWE history, none of the top guys pushes were forced on us. The WWE’s insistence on putting Roman Reigns in the main event of Wrestlemania for the second year in a row is just mind boggling.

The unfortunate thing for the WWE is that I don’t know if even a heel turn could save Roman Reigns at this point. He doesn’t have the wit to counter the boos like John Cena does. And really there is nothing the WWE can do to hide the boos at this point, unless they tape every RAW and pipe in cheers from here on out. The boos Roman Reigns gets now are out of pure hatred for him. I don’t know if even at peak John Cena boos there was this much hatred for Cena. Roman Reigns never seemed like he was screwed over by The Authority. Even at the Rumble, Reigns was eliminated fair and square. Then the whole putting Roman Reigns in the triple threat at Fastlane happened. The WWE wants you to think Roman Reigns was screwed over by The Authority, when in actuality it isn’t even close to being the case.

Roman Reigns was thrust into the spotlight after the break-up of The Shield and he was doomed from the start. While he was effective in the group, he was also able to surround some of his weaknesses in it as well. Reigns needed time to develop, but the WWE didn’t give it to him. And now for the second year in a row, Roman Reigns will be heavily booed in the main event at Wrestlemania. It’s a shame Vince McMahon doesn’t have the grapefruits to take big risks anymore. He stuck with the status quo in Roman Reigns, and sooner or later, it is going to cost him in his checkbook. Reigns could have turned into a main eventer, but the WWE has made fans hate him so much that he may never become a viable one.

Until Next Time,

Justin C

Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka