If I get one more email or hear one more person say Roman Reigns “isn’t ready,” I think I’m going to scream. Seriously, it’s arguments like this that result in Reigns saying things like none of his critics are wrestlers.
It’s a silly argument and it was a silly thing for Reigns to say. But the fact of the matter is this year’s Wrestlemania 31 is going to be headlined by Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and that’s not a bad thing.
Someone has to benefit from Lesnar’s latest tenure in WWE — which included ending The Undertaker’s streak — and I don’t think I have to tell anyone here that he’s looking “more fight ready” than ever before (departing for UFC?). I agree the infrequent WWE World Heavyweight Championship defenses have hurt the story and I admit that I would prefer to see Daniel Bryan oppose Brock in the story of total redemption. Bryan poses less risk and has absolutely everything to be “the guy.”
But it’s Reigns, not Bryan, that has been picked for that spot.
So what’s all the fuss about?
Well Reigns just “isn’t ready.”
I’ve been following the pro wrestling business my entire adult life and have made it my career (I'm 29 and no, I don't live in my mother's basement, it's too cold down there). While I don’t take bumps and live life on the road, I’ve seen enough wrestling matches to guarantee you there is no set formula to determine whether or not a worker is “ready.”
That doesn’t mean a worker doesn’t require seasoning before being called up but we’ve seen plenty from Reigns since his main roster call-up in late 2012 to prove he has talent and the intangibles to be a main event worker. It wasn’t too long ago that mainstream and hardcore fans alike were questioning where this guy came from. One WWE source told me shortly after Reigns’ call-up that his work on the main roster was far superior to anything he ever did in developmental.
Roman Reigns was set back from the incarcerated hernia, he’s had some disastrous promos and WWE did him no favors with their unimaginative/lazy/arrogant/illogical booking of the Royal Rumble match. But that still doesn’t mean he “isn’t ready.”
We truly won’t know if Reigns is ready until he gets his shot. That’s how it is for everyone their first time in the main event. Past accomplishments and other successes mean absolutely nothing when it comes to the main WWE roster. It’s impossible to predict how things will go and that’s why I always caution we have to give things time before passing judgment as to whether or not they are successful.
The go-home to Royal Rumble episode of Monday Night Raw highlighted one of WWE’s big problems. They’ve failed at developing top talent and they can’t keep “going to well” with guys in their 40s and 50s to sell their big shows. They must create new stars to continue to have success and Roman Reigns is one of these stars.
The people that say Reigns isn’t ready are the same people that bicker constantly about being force fed John Cena and Randy Orton on a weekly or monthly basis.
Well push Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan and Dean Ambrose, they say.
WWE is pushing Seth Rollins and he’s a bonafide main event talent after Royal Rumble. He still has the Money in the Bank briefcase and could literally “cash in” at any moment.
I am as disappointed as anyone with the way Bryan was booked in the Royal Rumble match and can only hope WWE will find a viable program for him at Wrestlemania. However, just because Vince McMahon is the most stubborn person on planet earth and Daniel Bryan isn’t getting the Wrestlemania main event this year, doesn’t justify Reigns “isn’t ready.” Bryan had two main event matches at Wrestlemania last year and can be started on at any time as a top WWE talent.
WWE could also do more with Dean Ambrose but he’s only had one pay-per-view win since June and would not pose a credible threat to Brock Lesnar. Dolph Ziggler is a similar situation, as is Bray Wyatt and to an even lesser extent is Ryback.
The story of Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar isn’t a bad one and they took a fantastic first step on this week’s Raw. You can watch it here.
Critics will say that was all Paul Heyman and Heyman could get a brown paper bag over but that certainly wasn’t the case when paired with the aforementioned Ryback. It didn’t work for Curtis Axel and as much as WWE creative was to blame, it didn’t work for Cesaro.
Heyman can’t be charged with “fixing talent” and can only be added as a bonus. We saw it in programs involving CM Punk and we’ve seen it in programs involving Brock Lesnar. Paul E can’t do it all but he can “up the ante” and make a good program great or a great program must-see.
I firmly believe the crowd in Philadelphia rejected the Royal Rumble because of the way it was booked and not because Roman Reigns went over. I will push this point as much as I have to but the crowd turned the moment Daniel Bryan was carelessly eliminated by Bray Wyatt. It didn’t matter what happened after that and WWE should have saw that coming because it’s the same situation they were in last year when they refused to even put Daniel Bryan in the Rumble match.
A lot of the hate for Roman Reigns is because it’s become a fad amongst the Internet Wrestling Community. People love a good protest and what a better way than to hashtag their Twitter account with #CancelWWENetwork?
There’s nothing wrong with canceling your WWE Network subscription, it’s your money, spend it how you want. But cancel it and move on, if you’re truly that upset. Most of the people I’ve seen do it are spending countless hours behind Twitter accounts, doing everything they can to entice people to join their “movement.” If you’re so upset with WWE, stop paying them and stop watching. You can Tweet out the #CancelWWENetwork hashtag but beyond that, it’s just a fad. A protest that people love to get behind. Let’s face it, many of these people will be back in time for Wrestlemania and will probably be purchasing tickets to the next WWE live event in their city so they can chant “CM Punk.”
17,164 paid some of the highest WWE ticket prices since 2010 to see Sunday’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view and we’ve known for months that Roman Reigns was the guy favored to win it. I don’t believe for one second that all these people paid just so they could “hijack” the show. People were upset at bad booking and were looking for a scapegoat. The “nursery rhyme promos” Reigns has cut over the past several weeks just added fuel to the fire and when it was either Reigns, Kane, Big Show or Rusev they just picked the heel under 40.
I’ve seen Roman Reigns have success, he has the intangibles and the potential to be a top WWE star. He’s not Daniel Bryan, nor is he Dean Ambrose. But he’s still one of the most promising up and coming workers WWE has on their main roster. He’ll have been on the main roster three years this fall and it’s now or never with Lesnar possibly leaving WWE after Wrestlemania.
Reigns vs. Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31 isn’t a bad thing, it’s a good thing. As polarizing as this topic as become I know there are people that will do everything they can to try and convince me otherwise, but #CancelWWENetwork and move on because I’m not buying it.
Here are some of the "Roman Reigns isn't ready" responses...
From my email...
People booed because of how it was booked, not because Reigns won?
Glad to hear you think you know what people are thinking. Because you're incorrect (if you are able to believe that's even possible).
Reality. Get some.