Times Up?: Analyzing Roman Reigns As The Face Of WWE

Roman Reigns
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The Wrestling Observer Newsletter has reported that a directive has been made on WWE TV to avoid saying the name of Roman Reigns at seemingly all cost since he pulled out of his WrestleMania 36 main event against Goldberg for the Universal Championship. Interesting, considering Reigns is by all accounts “The Face of the WWE.” Sure, no one knows when the COVID-19 pandemic is going to slow down. Meaning the WWE has no idea when Reigns will return to WWE TV. But the same can be said for when he left due to sickness. His name was involved on WWE TV almost the entire time he was gone. So what changed? Perhaps there is more to the story besides wanting people to not think about his whereabouts.

Maybe the days are numbered with “The Big Dog” being the top dog, with him instead of becoming just one of the boys moving forward. Let’s analyze Roman Reigns’ current standing in the WWE and what could be coming in the future.

Analyzing Roman Reigns As The Face Of WWE

Photo: WWE

Never Fully Getting Over… Coronation After Coronation

Roman Reigns has his fans and has his haters. For the most part, he feels like a big deal compared to the rest of the company. But as the top draw in the company, you should be exactly that. A top draw. It has been almost a decade now of people complaining about Reigns being shoved down their throat and it’s a decade that’s seen the WWE attempt to crown him on more than one occasion. It’s not Reigns’ fault either. Anyone in that spot was going to be turned on. Looking at you, Seth Rollins.

But the idea of the top draw in the WWE or wrestling being one guy anymore should be an idea that the company moves on from. It won’t happen, because Vince McMahon and company know no different, but its something to consider with Reigns being gone and never getting to the top spot like they had hoped. Think back to all of the attempts of coronation for Roman Reigns, and the number of times the company itself didn’t pull the trigger.

Coronation Attempt No. 1: WrestleMania 31 In The Main Event Vs. Brock Lesnar

WWE could have stuck to their guns in Reigns’ first main event and crowned him as the WWE Champion for the first time in his career. But following a Royal Rumble win where he was booed out of the building by the crowd in Philadelphia, they hesitated and gave Seth Rollins the opportunity to cash-in and have his run as the WWE Champion. The inaugural attempt was not a failure by any stretch, but it was a sign of things to come for Reigns and his career in the WWE. It didn’t help his cause that a returning Daniel Bryan was still the hottest thing around and they made him defeat him at Fastlane the month earlier. Stunning as to why this didn’t work at first try.

Coronation Attempt No. 2: WrestleMania 32 Vs. Triple H

A match that was neither good nor needed. Reigns had two WWE Championship wins prior to this match just one year later, with the moment that they wanted to happen at WrestleMania 32 instead of happening at a random Monday Night Raw in December. Reigns was cheered when he defeated Sheamus and won the title, but that wasn’t good enough for them. They pushed the limits and forced Reigns to lose his championship and chase it so that he could finally end WrestleMania as champion. It did not work.

Coronation Attempt No. 3: WrestleMania 33 Vs. The Undertaker

Defeating The Undertaker in the main event of WrestleMania may be bigger than winning a championship. To be honest, this was a set up to fail from the beginning. No one is going to boo the Undertaker until the day he retires. The way this match ended that night could have seen Reigns establishing himself as the biggest heel in professional wrestling as Undertaker rode off into the sunset. Neither of those things happened, and instead, we got Reigns having to talk about his yard for the rest of the time.

Coronation Attempt No. 4: Defeating John Cena In A Passing Of The Torch

“I’m still here because you can’t do your job”

The match meant nothing following a build-up that showed the way they were designing Reigns over the past couple of years. John Cena put him to tasks when it came to promo school. So bad that these videos were going viral at times as Cena destroyed him in every aspect that you could think of.  More than anything this feud proved to many that Reigns was not on the level of John Cena. Reigns winning the match at a C-PPV didn’t help either, as it was the renewed No Mercy that is once again gone. It was a match that should have happened at WrestleMania but they instead used Cena in a squash match against the Undertaker and Roman in the following coronation attempt.

“You should be ashamed I’m a part timer, ‘cause I can do this part time better than you could ever do it full time”

Coronation Attempt No. 5: Yearlong Build To Rematch With Lesnar At WrestleMania 34

This was the nail in the coffin. Lesnar had spent a year getting over the F5 finisher with nobody kicking out of one.  In one night that was undone as Reigns kicked out of many but, it was all for naught. Bloodied and battered in the middle of the ring Reigns was pinned 1… 2… 3. Reigns lost the match that was supposed to be his ultimate coronation and no one went home happy or mad. They just kind of wished none of that had ever happened. A year of the build for nothing.

Coronation Attempt No. 6: Wins Universal Championship For First Time At SummerSlam 2018

Finally. Reigns was on top for the first time since WrestleMania 32 and it didn’t get hit with tons of backlash like many would have assumed. And then Reigns’ sickness came out of nowhere. Reigns never got the opportunity to show what he could actually do with the top championship. By the time a coronation seemed to have worked a little bit, he was giving up the title for the worst possible reason. A reason that was far bigger than a push in wrestling.

Coronation Attempt No. 7: WrestleMania 36 Vs. Goldberg

And the latest. Roman Reigns was going to return to the title picture for the first time since coming back from his sickness. He was set to take on Goldberg in a Spear vs. Spear spectacle of sorts for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania. And then COVID-19 had other plans for everyone. WrestleMania was no longer able to be in front of a live audience and Reigns had to think about himself and his family and pull out of the event completely.

Understanding The Problem Of All These Attempts

When you read back and realize all the attempts and what has happened to this poor guy over the years, it’s hard to think about anything other than pure sadness for Reigns and not for the company. Let’s get one thing squared away here. No one could have taken this role and succeeded in all these instances. It was never going to work. Fans were coming fresh off a decade of John Cena on top and weren’t ready to be force-fed again. Reigns was raw when he was put into this role and has become one of their best since then, but it is not his fault. The new age of wrestling isn’t a “face of the company” world any longer. The box office attraction is few and far between.

It’s a credit to “The Big Dog” that he has grown to what he is now considering all the fails and problems that he had to endure. Reigns has found his niche and it may not matter considering his decision to step away, as WWE seems to think he should be banned from all of their product until the day he returns. No current talent in the company could have done better at Reigns’ job. Accept that before you bash him once again. It wasn’t his doing. It was the company.

Gone For How Long?

How long will Roman Reigns be off of TV? There isn’t an answer to that question. Making it a situation where WWE needs to look elsewhere. SmackDown’s viewership is plummeting on network television and does not have a top act in the company to lead it forward. Becky Lynch controls her turf on Raw alongside Drew McIntyre, who has established himself as a legitimate option of entertainment and the true top guy now. They also have Seth Rollins who has been able to lead brands for years, even if it isn’t to the top level of success, it’s still a leader. SmackDown has Braun Strowman, a man fans don’t take too seriously anymore. Bray Wyatt, who is too different a character to be your only guy to bring viewership. Right now, the shows best option is Bayley and their tag team division.

With Roman Reigns M.I.A. for the foreseeable future, can he really be the face any longer? The company needs to put their trust, marketing, and everything else behind someone on the SmackDown show before FOX starts asking questions. With no Reigns, they are in trouble. And we are talking about a guy who never got to the level of someone like John Cena, but is still at a point that no one besides Becky Lynch has reached on the current roster.  The company has put many years and a lot of effort into making him THE guy and it hasn’t worked, now his illness is taking him away from the ring it may be time for them to put that effort and time into someone else because they need a top star now more than ever.

More Than Enough Others To Trust

Keith Lee-Roman-Reigns
Credit: WWE

The WWE had one of its darkest days a few weeks back when they released over a dozen talents and yet their product is completely unaffected by the cuts. That’s how much talent they have. And replacing Roman Reigns isn’t something you just do overnight. But right now with so much uncertainty, SmackDown needs the talent to make their show worth watching. Most WWE diehard fans will watch no matter what, but the fans and kids who watch for Roman Reigns are the ones turning off the television right now. They need a superhero, they need a Reigns or a Cena to root for, a larger than life star for them to get behind. McMahon understands that idea, noting that the current low viewership numbers are due to them trying to establish new superstars right now.

If there was anything that they can take from this experience, it’s believing in one guy and only one guy can only leave you in trouble. Yes, Becky Lynch is the other face of the company but they have three televised shows to take care of. NXT, RAW, and Smackdown have more enough talent ready to go and take the next step if given the chance. It’s a matter of one man pulling that trigger. He may be too nervous to try and do so considering Reigns was supposed to be his new Cena but in the end will be remembered as more of a Lex Luger.

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