WWE lost Roman Reigns for "several months" due to an incarcerated hernia that required emergency surgery on September 20, 2014. The injury caused him to miss the company's Night of Champions pay-per-view and wrote him out of storylines indefinitely.
On Monday, WWE promised a live update from Reigns himself to update his status. Prior to the appearance, I wrote the following:
It will be interesting to see how the Brooklyn crowd reacts to Reigns and whether or not there is any further update on his health.
While Reigns himself said he would be at the show in Brooklyn live, WWE delivered a pre-tape interview conducted by Michael Cole from his broadcast position. If you missed it, here it is:
I criticized the segment heavily on Tuesday and am still appalled by it. The injury to Roman Reigns is a horrible thing for Reigns and for WWE in general. The company is in dire need for talent at the top of the card and losing Reigns was just another key player down at the worst possible time. We wrote about why the segment bombed in this week's Backstage Raw News but sometimes time off can be a good thing.
I will be the first to argue that the one month absence of Dean Ambrose (to film the WWE Studios production Lockdown) helped freshen his character and elevate him to the main event. While Reigns' injury is unfortunate, the company could use it for good in that it could help rejuvenate his character. Some fans had begun to get frustrated with the protection of Reigns and were starting to compare him to John Cena, a mega babyface that always overcame the odds no matter what (a good thing in theory, a bad thing if trying to create the next "face of WWE").
While the appearance on Monday was only a couple of weeks in, WWE needed to do two things. One,provide a timetable for his return. I understand an exact date for Reigns' return is not available, however, they needed to provide a general timeline. This would help keep him relevant and give his fans something to look forward to. It's always smart to tell the fans the furthest date out and hope he progresses better than expected and returns early as a surprise. However, no timetable, other than he hoped to be back soon, was established.
The second thing WWE needed to do was assure an optimal reaction from the crowd. They were in Brooklyn in a packed Barclays Center with over 17,000 fans, so it's not like they were expecting a meager turnout to accomplish this. However, for whatever reason, rather than having Reigns appear live and garner a pop, they went the way of a pre-tape on the titantron.
Anything on the titantron as opposed to live in the ring is going to garner a weaker reaction from the live crowd because they paid to see the action live, not on television. That's why this method should only be used in certain situations when there is no other way. I have no idea why WWE opted to go the route of a pre-tape as opposed to a live appearance but it clearly damaged Reigns' crowd reaction.
Let's also take into account Reigns came off as rehearsed, forced and awkward. This is inexcusable because if WWE was going to go this route, they should have at least checked it for quality. Anyone that watches the above video can tell it was poorly executed.
So WWE needed to provide a timetable from Roman Reigns and assure an optimal crowd reaction. They did neither. In fact, they put out an uninformative segment that garnered little reaction from 17,000 plus. Once again, it's hard to garner a reaction from the titantron when fans paid to see the real thing.
In conclusion, I don't think serious long-term damage was done to Roman Reigns with the segment, however, nothing was done to help him either. It's unfathomable to me that WWE could feature someone that could potentially be in a position to main event Wrestlemania 31 in such a poorly thought out and poorly executed segment.
This is what WWE gave fans to remember Roman Reigns by while he is out. Hopefully it will be quickly forgotten and Reigns will return rejuvenated and ready for the next step but nothing has been done to help him. He's already accumulating detractors that feel he's not anywhere near main event ready and nothing was done on Monday to quell that problem.