Roman Reigns may not be the most beloved WWE World Heavyweight Champion ever, but he’s certainly polarizing and probably the most talked about superstar on the roster. To WWE, sometimes it doesn’t matter if that talk is positive or negative. Sometimes, it doesn’t even matter if fans cheer or boo him, just as long as there’s a reaction in the building or a trending topic on Twitter.
Roman Reigns is a weekly headliner; not only on Monday Night RAW but on podcasts and in wrestling columns, as well. Every journalist or former WWE superstar like ‘Stone Cold‘ Steve Austin, Mick Foley or Jim Ross has an opinion on how to get him over or what direction WWE should take with him. The overwhelming general consensus is that Reigns has become this generation’s John Cena, and the fanbase is flat out rejecting it.
Reigns has been force-fed to the WWE Universe for over a year now despite heavy resistance. There appeared to be little hope for change until a recent report surfaced that Vince McMahon may finally be giving in to the backlash by giving up on trying to make Roman a fan-favorite champion. But until Reigns is defeated/stripped as champion, or a heel-turn is finally consummated, fans will continue to revolt against the Roman Empire.
According to former WWE writer Alex Greenfield, who was a member of the WWE creative team from 2005-06, it’s not Roman Reigns who the fans should be directing their vitriol towards. And it might not be anyway, but it’s the closest they can get to the writers’ room. Greenfield was a guest of Wade Keller’s PW Torch Livecast recently and pointed out two key components as to why Reigns hasn’t gotten over the way WWE planned.
Reigns has drawn obvious comparisons to John Cena for over 12 months now, with Greenfield taking it even deeper. When Cena was first being groomed for the role as the face of the company, he too wasn’t getting the intended reaction from the live crowds. Two of the head writers at the time pleaded with Vince McMahon to turn Cena heel, but McMahon held off. Cena had programs with Chris Jericho, and the crowds favored Y2J. Cena feuded with Kurt Angle with a similar outcome, despite WWE’s attempts to turn Angle into a terrorist apologist. Greenfield revealed that it wasn’t until they found the perfect heel to complement Cena that John was able to catapult himself into becoming that top star, and that’s what Roman Reigns needs now.
That special heel turned out to be Edge, so much of Cena’s success at the top of the WWE can be attributed to the Rated-R Superstar. Greenfield wasn’t sure if WWE has the “Joker to Reigns’ Batman” on the roster as the lack of top heels has limited his progress. But the other problem, according to the former WWE writer, is the company’s decision to try and emulate the Cena push with Roman Reigns in the first place.
Greenfield argued that Reigns resembles another former champion from the Ruthless Aggression Era, who made his debut the same year as Cena, and that was Batista. Greenfield says that if WWE booked Roman Reigns the way they did The Animal, the outcome might have been different. However, in Reigns’ case, WWE was looking for a face of the company type who would represent the company in and out of the ring 365 days a year. Batista was a successful champion and consistent main event performer, but he never was the clear-cut top guy. That is what Vince has been looking for over the last decade, and he still is looking for today.
The irony with all the Roman Reigns/John Cena comparisons is that they have penciled the two in for a main-event showdown at this year’s SummerSlam for quite some time. We have yet to read any reports to the contrary, but with three months remaining and the report of Vince souring on Reigns as his top guy, much could change leading up to that event.
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