Whether you like him or not, there’s no question that Roman Reigns’ current position and bright future as a top-flight singles competitor was inevitable from his early days with The Shield. He has it all – a powerful physique, good looks, wrestling in his blood, and a unique and marketable look. However, as the weeks of being an individual have strolled by, more and more cracks are starting to show in the ‘Juggernaut’, leading to some fans slowly turning against him.
John Cena, WWE’s most polarising – not controversial (I hate when Cole and King say that) – star never used to be in this love-hate relationship with the WWE Universe. After his ‘Prototype’ gimmick, Cena quickly became a fan favourite as the ‘Dr of Thuganomics’, and this bad-ass rap persona was quite a stark contrast to the Cena we’re used to seeing today. He was still a poor wrestler, but had much more diversity and was increasingly experimental with the manoeuvres he performed. If this didn’t win fans over, his unique and entertaining character certainly did. WWE saw this and pushed Cena further, all the way up to the point where fans started to boo him due to his constant dominance. Cena gradually evolved into WWE’s poster boy, and so followed suit with a squeaky-clean Captain America-like persona. He kissed babies, posed for photographs, and did everything that was required of a gold-standard WWE mascot. He was dubbed as the modern Hulk Hogan. However, Cena brought in the dough via merchandise sales from children, and this has been a prime factor as to why he has been kept in this position despite his in-ring work becoming lazy, unimaginative, and repetitive. The rest is history.
As for Roman Reigns, his fans are beginning to worry that he’ll suffer the same fate. Like Cena, Reigns’ official WWE beginning started with a bad-ass gimmick – being a ‘hound’ in The Shield. We got to see glimpses of his ability, and these glimpses worked perfectly as we weren’t spoiled with too much. Being part of a faction allowed Roman to shine where he best could, leaving the rest to Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. We were always left wanting more of all three individuals, both on the mic and in the ring. It was perfect. Forward to the fourth quarter of The Shield’s reign (no pun intended), it was clear who WWE were going with as their next breakout star. Reigns became the centre of attention of the ‘Hounds of Justice’, but we still had Ambrose and Rollins to keep his push from going stale.
It was only right for The Shield to split ways after their rivalry with Evolution. Many were waiting for this moment, and it couldn’t have come at a more idyllic time. The WWE Universe were anxious to see how each individual would cope as a singles competitor, and were soon enlightened. It was evident that Ambrose and Rollins could hold their own as singles stars, due to their confidence on the mic and excellent in-ring work. As for Reigns, it’s a two-sided story. Some would argue that Reigns is better than ever, whereas others would say that he can’t hack it on his own. He’s definitely improved on the mic – you can see his confidence growing week by week. However, the content of his promos are quite unimaginative and boring in general. His in-ring ability is where fans are starting to draw comparisons with John Cena. Reigns is dominant in the ring but, like Cena, abuses four to five moves. He’s being pushed exactly how Cena was – coming out on top on nearly every occasion, and having bursts of ‘overpowered’ signature moves. I believe his look and heritage are the only factors that’s keeping him likeable by some of the more critical fans. Cena and Reigns’ cross of paths in recent times has really made these comparisons clear.
Initially, many thought that Reigns would be the ‘Batman’ of the superhero metaphor that is WWE’s poster boys. However, it’s becoming evermore apparent that Reigns and Cena are more alike than one would think. Their recent exchanges and segments have led fans to draw comparisons of Captain America meeting Superman. Reigns’ opportunity to be the dark knight is rapidly diminishing. If he continues down this route of being over-pushed and overpowered, he’ll lose his cool as the anti-hero fans so desperately wanted, and instead end up as another corny protagonist. All Roman needs now is a brightly coloured t-shirt and a cringe-worthy catchphrase.
It would be a shame if Roman Reigns ends up as a second-fiddle John Cena. Although he has much to learn and improve on, he undoubtedly has a lot going for him. Given Daniel Bryan’s absence, WWE need a face that the majority of fans genuinely give a damn about. If WWE manages to keep Reigns appetising enough to satisfy the Universe’s constant hunger for something refreshing, he could fill the anti-hero spot that CM Punk left collecting dust, and potentially more. It’s all ifs and buts, however this is certainly a growing issue that is becoming progressively prominent as the weeks roll on.
Do you agree? Is Reigns becoming stale, or are critics being too harsh too soon? Voice your opinion below, and don’t forget to share!
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