We all know Roman Reigns is Vince McMahon’s guy. We all know the fans have an overwhelming negative reaction to Reigns as a top figure in WWE. And biases undoubtedly have their factor in both, but you cannot deny the simple, blunt truth when it is played out right in front of your eyes.
Regardless of what one thinks about Reigns as a performer or as the chosen one to front the company in the coming years, some of that truth was exposed to audiences far and wide on Monday Night Raw. Coming off Great Balls of Fire, the big Raw segment involving Reigns, Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar did absolutely no favors for Reigns. If anything, it verified all those sentiments anti-Reigns fans have been holding to for years now.
For the first time in maybe years, Reigns was put in a situation where he was not the focus, nor was he being directly protected. And as a result, his flaws were completely exposed.
General manager Kurt Angle came out with the intention of talking about Lesnar’s next opponent for SummerSlam. This eventually led to Reigns coming out to interrupt. After all, he had expressed desire to challenge the winner of the match between Lesnar and Joe from the night before.
Reigns technically lost the night before to Braun Strowman in their Ambulance match. But through the magic of pro wrestling booking, WWE rigmaroled Reigns’ loss, making it very soft, and managed to have Reigns come out on top in the end anyway.
This essentially became his justification to challenge Lesnar. But then Joe interrupted the segment himself.
Immediately the vibe changed. For a month, WWE booked an exceptional feud between Lesnar and Joe leading up to Great Balls of Fire which saw Joe ascend to heights his longtime fans knew he was more than capable of. Joe had been made a legitimate threat to Lesnar — a feat very few have ever been able to reach.
Even Lesnar’s whole demeanor changed upon the very sound of Joe’s entrance theme. For what it’s worth, reports in recent weeks claimed Lesnar was highly impressed with Joe and his performance in their feud. It seemed everyone recognized WWE had tapped into something special with the first actual take on the longtime dream match between Lesnar and Joe.
Their match the night before was a success. Sure, Joe lost clean, but the match was a hoss battle just like anyone expected and Joe went out looking awfully good in the process.
The feeling was very much still there that Joe was a threat to Lesnar. Joe’s presence in the ring was palpable. His words and delivery had a weight to them. The chemistry between Joe and Lesnar was undeniable.
For those paying attention, though, once Joe showed up, Reigns might as well have not even been there. His association in the matter became moot.
WrestleMania 31 was an excellent event. Lesnar and Reigns headlined that year and had an excellent match together. To this day, Reigns has continued to have standout matches with whatever opponents no matter his place on the card.
The plan all along has been to eventually revisit that WrestleMania match and have Reigns finally defeat Lesnar in a crowning moment of his career. Today, the reported plan is that very match being set for SummerSlam, being pushed up from WrestleMania 34 next year.
Things change, though. It is one thing to personally not appreciate WWE wanting to push Reigns to the moon, and it is another to watch as Reigns gets completely overshadowed by fellow main event talent.
All the fans who have decried Reigns and his push were validated on Monday. Reigns was nothing more than the third wheel of the segment. Even worse, if you take into account the presence of Paul Heyman and Angle as well, Reigns was the lone man of five who came off like he did not belong.
Reigns has never been renowned for his mic work, and that was his big downfall with four legends in the ring with him. But also, Reigns’ presence lacked. For whatever look Reigns has that matches the top-guy position, the presence of every other man in the ring outshone him.
They say charisma is something you have, and not something which can be taught. And more than ever Reigns was exposed here as the one lacking. Even Lesnar, who typically leaves the talking to Heyman, showed more charisma in his mic work than Reigns — by far.
It is not all just about making a top guy. You have to be capable of being a top guy. Jinder Mahal is as good of an example of that as anything.
Yes, we all know Reigns is pegged as the next “John Cena,” to be the face of and lead the company for the next decade. We know Reigns is likely going to face Lesnar at SummerSlam and defeat him.
However, none of that changes the reality of the situation. Reigns was dwarfed in the Raw segment with Lesnar and Joe. It is difficult to imagine anyone preferring a Lesnar-Reigns match over another Lesnar-Joe match at this point. For as good as Lesnar-Reigns was years ago, the chemistry is so clearly in full favor of Joe.
The buildup is so clearly in favor of Joe. The momentum is so clearly in favor of Joe.
Reigns being pegged as the next top guy — the one WWE has been trying for three years now to get over as the next big thing — he could not have come off further from it once he was finally placed in a situation where he was not specifically designed to be the focus.