Roman Reigns was destined to be the standout guy from the Shield from the first moment they appear. Call me cynical, but there were times it seemed like the Shield was just a tool to promote Reigns as the next big thing, leaving Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose to pick up the scraps. And in the context of the team, Reigns was great. He was the clean-up hitter, to use a baseball term. Rollins and Ambrose would set their opponents up, and Reigns would knock them down. His popularity was undeniable.
Then the Shield split. Maybe it was too soon, maybe WWE was too eager to get their next main event good guy ready. Or maybe it happened at just the right time, going out on top. I don’t know. But with all three going separate ways, comparisons are inevitable. And while Ambrose and Rollins were tearing it up every night, Reigns started to struggle. Ambrose and Rollins took an awful gimmick match, the Lumberjack match, and had the best damn Lumberjack in history. Reigns meanwhile, had a mostly lifeless feud against the Authority and Randy Orton.
Without the safety of a team, Reigns’ in-ring work was exposed as not being very good. He wasn’t bad, but he was unimpressive, particularly when compared to his former teammates. He looked like a rookie, with only a handful of moves in his repitiore and no good way to set them up. Mostly he hit people with clotheslines until he could do his apron dropkick, superman punch, and spear. And while the crowd didn’t really turn against him, you could almost see his crowd reactions getting smaller as guys like Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, and Dolph Ziggler started getting more reactions.
Reigns was still popular though. Despite any in-ring deficiencies, he still had Presence. He kept the Shield’s ring gear, entrance, and music while his former teammates formed new identities. He still didn’t speak much, but as long as he kept it short and sweet, he still looked the part of intimidating badass. But it was obvious something needed to change for him. And then he got hurt.
Recovering from surgery, Reigns had ample time to evolve his character. He was rumored to have been taking acting classes in order to cut better promos. Reigns was given opportunities to do interview packages similar to the ones Brock Lesnar would do. But while Lesnar came off as scary and intimidating, Reigns was stilted and unimpressive. While other wrestlwrs use thier injury time to hype their character, Reigns did little more then announce he was coming back, over and over again. It was a waste of time.
Injuries can be a great time for a struggling wrestler, a way for them to recoup and reevaluate what works and what doesn’t and come back stronger then ever. Sheamus just returned, for example. After a lackluster babyface run, he came back with a new look, new attitude, and new entrance music. And while I will forever miss his old music, evolving his stale character is a good thing. Reigns returned with the same everything. It would have been a great time for him to completely leave the Shield’s shadow or add a new move, but instead he comes back exactly the same.
He did start giving more promos though. Some of the most cringe-imducing promos ever heard came from Roman Reigns after his return. He winked to the camera and quoted Looney Tunes, eliminating all the badass credibility he had built up. He was trying to appeal to children, but children already liked him because he was a big tough ass-kicking good guy. He didn’t need to become a cartoon. His slight change in character was even more out of place when nothing else about him changed.
And then he started feuding with the Big Show.
The Big Show has been a black hole for a couple of years now. He gets involved in random main events and sucks all the momentum from them. He replaced Daniel Bryan during his main event ascension, even trying to take his catchphrase. He would stay at the border of the main event, interjecting himself in the least interesting ways possible. I hate knocking on the Big Show, but he has not done a single notable thing in the past several years. And now he was in the path of Roman Reigns.
And it sucked. Good god it sucked. They fought several times, and each was awful. Each time they wrestled, the Big Show was made to look strong at the expense of Reigns. Reigns was unable to get the upper hand on the giant. For years we have watched people get the upper hand on the giant. Rey freaking Mysterio gets the upper hand on the giant. People have been beating the Big Show and made to look strong for the better part of two decades. And yet Reigns can’t. He has awful boring matches and awful boring promos and the new hot face of the company was sinking fast.
It looked like their story concluded at the Royal Rumble, with Reigns sneaking up behind him and eliminating him in literally the most cheap and cowardly way possible. But no, they kept fighting, and Reigns kept looking weak. Reigns was already lacking credibility, and being the Big Show’s bitch made his match at Wrestlemania against Lesnar unappealing at best.
As Wrestlemania approached, Reigns finally moved away from Big Show. His promos were shorter, better, and more on point. He started building momentum back up, but was in a deep, deep hole. His match at Mania did a lot to rebuild him, to make him look like a threat again. He lost, but he took more punishment from Lesnar than anyone before, and managed to bloody the beast. After the match, it was easier to see the potential in Reigns. So what happens after Wrestlemania?
HE FEUDS WITH THE GODDAMN BIG SHOW!
Like, goddammit, seriously? If the scuttlebutt is to be believed, they will have a match at Extreme Rules. I can’t imagine anyone being excited about the idea of this match. Who thinks this is a good idea?!? I can barely comprehend that I’ve written so many words all on the point that this match is a waste of time and talent.
The only way this match makes any sense at all is if Reigns destroys the Big Show in quick and easy fashion. I’ve been wrong about the Big Show before. Just a few posts ago I wrote this about the Big Show winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
If this is the start of a final run for the giant, I’m okay with it. Have him treat the trophy with respect, maybe turn on the Authority or at least be a dominant heel, and have one final run as an upper card wrestler. If we’re just going to get more of the same though, then Big Show winning was a dud.
So far it’s looking like the same old shit.