I've said before on my usual message boards and on Twitter, etc. that the biggest issue with Roman Reigns is that WWE has given him the CM Punk treatment. What does that mean? It means that WWE will push him, but only after they neuter him. Specifically, they take everything you like about the guy, strip that away, force him into this John Cena template and then strap the rocket to his back. With Punk the only difference was they kind of made him into a bootleg Stone Cold with John Laurinaitis as his bootleg Mr. McMahon.
Subtle differences aside they basically hurt both guys in the same way. They take away what people liked and gave them less than stellar material to work with instead. None of this is to absolve Roman Reigns from any responsibility here. He clearly doesn't perform on the mic or in the ring up to expectations, but instead of minimizing those flaws WWE has accentuated them. Roman should not be talking as much as he does to begin with and if he is then he needs to be able to be himself. The ring work doesn't bother me as much as it does others, but I've heard complaints that he's forced to sell too much and also that they force him into longer matches than he's ready for at this stage of the game. I can see both of those points. Both of those things could be dealt with better by WWE, but for whatever reason they have kind of set Roman up for failure.
One thing I hear that I do reject is that Roman lacks charisma. He has a definite presence about him and when you couple that with his look it's clear why people reacted to him so strongly when The Shield debuted. I believe the video above gives you a peek at some of that. Notice how much more relaxed and natural he comes across there. Why? It's because he isn't trying to regurgitate some Vince McMahon scripted material. He's being himself and you can tell that he is much more comfortable. As far as mic work and charisma goes he shouldn't be force to talk so much. He would work perfectly fine as a silent killer. When he does talk it needs to be kept short and sweet and needs to sound like something the guy in that video would say and not a Vince McMahon promo that was written for John Cena.
To that point the other problem for him is that it is so blatantly obvious that he is Vince McMahon's hand-picked "guy." That in and of itself is enough to cause the crowd to push back especially when they feel that a guy like Daniel Bryan is actively being sabotaged. Again Roman isn't blameless, but the WWE machine and Vince McMahon are far more responsible for this mess in my mind. A Philly guy I follow on Twitter, Dan Aleksander, @HaveTilFive, was at the Royal Rumble and said it this way:
I feel bad for Reigns because it isn't his fault but Vince McMahon isn't out there for me to boo so...That cuts to the heart of the matter. The rejection of Roman Reigns is as much a rejection of the arrogance of Vince McMahon and the WWE machine as anything. One of the fine posters on WCMB basically said in our Royal Rumble 2015 thread that this is a sign of a problem that has been brewing for a while and that WWE and its fanbase is basically engaged in open warfare at this point. That sounds like hyperbole, but if you stop and think about it that comment is pretty spot-on.
Roman Reigns can be saved. It will be difficult to effectively get this thing turned around before WrestleMania 31 though. That's a shame because I believe Roman Reigns deserves better and as a fan I want WrestleMania and the road to it to be as entertaining as possible. As of right now I fear that we won't get the Mania we want or deserve, but then again things looked rough last year around this time as well. Can WWE turn it around in time? I hope so. They need to listen to their fans, drop some of their pre-conceived notions of what a main eventer should do an be and help guys let their natural charisma shine.
Upload Credit: WWE