WWE is in the midst of a youth movement. Their farm system NXT has been seen as a huge success. Young wrestlers (WWE likes to use the term ‘superstars’) are now more prepared than ever to take the next step and be on the main roster.
Roman Reigns is a product of NXT and is a member of the famed Anoa’i family, which includes The Rock, Rikishi, Yokozuna and over a dozen other former and current wrestlers. WWE had every reason to strap a rocket to him and push him to the top.
They added him to a stable called ‘The Shield’ with two other wrestlers that had a lot of experience in the indies, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. The group has long since been dismantled, yet Reigns still stuck in the same character.
Ambrose and Rollins have both branched out and are quite different than their personas in The Shield. Ambrose’s character is that of an unstable babyface and Rollins is the chicken sh*t heel that is the face of the company as the WWE World Heavyweight champion. Each is accepted by the crowd in their roles, i.e. Ambrose gets cheered and Rollins gets booed.
Here’s examples of transformation each character went through. The picture on the left is what each character looks like in 2015 and on the right is what they looked like in 2013 during their run in The Shield.
Each made changes to their gear and huge changes to their move-set in the ring. They are also exciting on the microphone. Reigns has stayed with nearly the same gear and move-set. His promo skills have improved a little, but he’s not where he should be at this point.
Reigns was clearly the guy WWE wanted to be the breakout star in The Shield. He has the look that Vince McMahon loves and he would love to have another star like The Rock. Things haven’t worked out as planned, even though Reigns headlined Wrestlemania 31…but he did not win the title, Rollins was the one who did.
The crowds have turned on Reigns since before he won the 2015 Royal Rumble. I believe if he would turn heel or tweak his character, he could start to gain traction again. He’s stuck in the ‘Cena Zone’, as in he needs something new. Hell, at this point I would welcome Reigns to wear a neon colored shirt like Cena.
Will Reigns be the WWE World Heavyweight champion one day? Yes. I do believe he will get the title within the next calendar year. Will the WWE Universe accept him? He’s not there yet and if he doesn’t evolve, it could get ugly before his crowd reaction gets better.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.