The man himself, Vince Russo, wrote a blog post about WWE (Vince McMahon) finally finding the right path for Roman Reigns and his “not a good guy, not a bad […]
The man himself, Vince Russo, wrote a blog post about WWE (Vince McMahon) finally finding the right path for Roman Reigns and his “not a good guy, not a bad guy, just THE GUY” line in his promos, maybe the best mic work of his career, in the two episodes of Raw after Wrestlemania 32.
Reigns and the company have realized Roman is not going to be cheered by the hardcore wrestling fans, the audience WWE can count on every week, both in attendance and watching on television. It behooves the writers to send the World Heavyweight Champion in the direction he is finally being pushed. If the fans who boo Reigns do it because they see him as the next “company guy” being pushed down their throats instead of the indie-darlings they adore, then that is exactly how he should be booked.
AJ Styles becoming number one contender is a great step in recreating the one aspect of John Cena’s decade-long reign that even the IWC came to appreciate, the Cena feud with CM Punk. Punk was the representative of the IWC, the guy everyone felt was being held down for WWE-created figureheads. So what did Vince McMahon do? He made that the story of their feud.
Punk cut the pipe bomb promo and suddenly the two sides of the WWE Universe were wrapped up in a program for the WWE Championship like they hadn’t been since the beginning of the “LOL Cena wins” era (I will admit to setting off fireworks with a few wrestling nerd friends the night Rob Van Dam beat Cena at One Night Stand, but that was short-lived euphoria).
The difference here is that Reigns won’t play the white knight baby face, because that’s never been his character. While Cena adopted the Captain America gimmick early in his rise to prominence after the Doctor of Thuganomics stuff (wouldn’t “Professor of Thuganomics” have made more sense? I digress…), the best work of Roman’s career was as a part of The Shield, which was a heel faction, for the most part. Sure, they were cool heels who got a good pop when their music hit, but they were still bad guys.
If Reigns can capture some of the coolness that he had as the enforcer of The Shield, and that essence that allowed his cousin, The Rock, to become one of the greatest of all-time, as Russo explained in his piece, he’ll find a great comfort zone in that “not a good guy, not a bad guy” persona.
Walking that line is what has made Cena so successful. He knows there is a portion of the audience that won’t cheer him, so he refuses to cater to that niche group. If Reigns is booked as THE GUY who can adapt his character to feud with AJ Styles and Sami Zayn, as well as Sheamus and Rusev, he’ll be able to carry the title for a long time.
Recreating that dynamic between Punk and Cena with Reigns and Styles, as it stands now, where the lines between heel and face are blurred, fan allegiances will align with whichever character with whom they identify. Whether people are tuning in to see Reigns or tuning in to see Reigns lose, they’re still watching.
Reigns still has a long way to go in terms of connecting with the audience and becoming more natural on the microphone, but this new path of both acknowledging the crowd reaction and letting it roll off his back is a great step in establishing him as the top guy.