Happy Wednesday Cantonia, and welcome to another NXT Edition of A Matter of Character… kind of. You see, last week when I chose my subject for this week, I was completely unaware that the WWE was planning on calling him up and debuting him during the main event of Survivor Series.
Of course I’m talking about 2nd generation NXT standout Roman Reigns, who along with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose made their main roster debuts. I’ll get more into that in the Going Forward section of this piece, but for the most part I will be analyzing the character Roman Reigns portrayed on NXT. I will look at his strengths and flaws, all the while suggesting tweaks I’d make to certain aspects of his character. No need for a long preamble, Let’s Do This!
27-year-old Roman Reigns has everything that a superstar needs to succeed in the WWE. Roman has size, strength, and athleticism, which all but make him a prototypical WWE Superstar. His Samoan heritage, long jet-black hair, and ruggedly handsome facial features help him stand out, while simultaneously being the prototype of what the WWE would like all their superstars to be.
In the ring, he is still developing and is far from a master technician or storyteller. That being said, he’s far from being so green that you’d worry about the safety of the guys you put him in the ring with. He does the maneuvers he knows well, and has rarely gone outside his comfort zone in the matches I have seen him in. Don’t expect any five star outing from this guy right now, but with time and experience, he will become more comfortable in the ring, expand his repertoire, and eventually live up to the promise of his size and athleticism. For now he knows his limitations, he works hard to improve, and will only get better with age.
On NXT, Roman Reigns has been using the trusty cocky heel gimmick. He enters the arena for his matches, shows off his strength and athleticism, and after all his bouts, he traces his signature into the mat with his finger. When he makes an appearance on NXT for an interview, he does so dressed to the nines in a tailored suit, and looking very sophisticated and debonair, while playing up his own athletic prowess and dismissing the interviewer, all of which contribute to the arrogant heel shtick he’s portraying.
The cocky athletic heel gimmick is a bit overplayed in wrestling these days, but Reigns is pulling it off. That being said, the fact of the matter is he hasn’t yet found his voice. He doesn’t have that character that will take him special. He has a look, and NXT is trying to craft a character around the look, but until he finds THE character he can nail through and through, all he’ll be is a good look. I’m confident that there’s a character that will fit him like a glove, and he’ll find it much like Leo Kruger did, but for now he leaves a lot to be desired.
WORDS & ACTIONS
As I said earlier, his promos and actions are those of a classic cocky heel. He promotes himself ad nauseum and dismisses those around him as less than himself, which are the most overplayed aspects of this persona. I do like that Roman doesn’t demean the fans to get heat and demonstrate his arrogance. In fact he goes out of his way to come off very diplomatic in his choice of words. In his NXT bio, it says that he is a superstar and businessman extraordinaire, which would explain why he doesn’t insult the people he needs to market himself to. They are the ones that buy the shirts and products with his name on them, so best not to directly insult them. I doubt that’s the thought behind it, but it would be nice if Roman Reigns was taking his marketing into account when never directly engaging the fans and acting “heelish” towards them. Aside from that, I also like that he has backed up his talk to this point, which is an anomaly with the cocky heel gimmick these days.
Having seen Roman Reigns back in FCW as Leakee, I have to say that he has improved his mic work leaps and bounds since then. As Leakee, he seemed nervous and uncomfortable talking in front of an audience, but since they’ve repackaged him as Roman Reigns, he speaks with confidence and purpose. You can tell he’s worked on it, and right now the worst thing about his promos is the content, which is good because content is the easiest thing to remedy. His delivery is otherwise pretty great as I said before, and I’m very confident he will continue to progress and improve in the areas he is weakest in. Is he a great talker yet? Absolutely not, but he has the tools and the work ethic to be. It’s all a matter of finding his voice and being comfortable and confident.
This is another aspect of Roman Reigns’ character that is lacking. It seems as though he just goes through the motions, without any driving force behind him. He has nothing to motivate and urge him to succeed other than success itself. What does he want? What can’t he live without? What inspires and galvanizes him?
I like the idea of him approaching the WWE and wrestling as a businessman. He isn’t there simply for titles, personal feuds, wrestling etc. His character is there to expand his personal brand. Everything comes easier in the WWE if the people and management are behind you, which is why it would benefit someone to approach the landscape of the WWE as a business rather than a competition. Roman, despite being a cocky heel businessman, tries to interact with the fans, because the fans help build his brand. I really like the idea of a heel that doesn’t slander the people for heat, but instead panders to them shamelessly because he knows their support equals money and power. The trick is getting this across properly on TV. That being said this version of Roman Reigns would have infinitely more motivation than his character in its current iteration.
Conflict is paramount in any narrative. Things can never be easy for any character otherwise the narrative becomes boring and useless. For Roman Reigns, conflict arises because he fancies himself the smartest man in the room at all times. He thinks he’s got everyone’s number, and it is this hubris, this lack of respect for his surroundings, that will lead him into sticky situations, get him in trouble, and stop him from achieving his goals as easily as he’d like to.
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last few days, you’ll have noticed that Roman Reigns has already been brought up to the main roster along with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. This trio helped Punk retain the WWE Championship at Survivor Series, attacked Ryback again the next night on Raw, and continued their invasion on Main Event by attacking and laying out Santino and Tyson Kidd.
I like seeing new faces on the main roster, but I’m not thrilled about Reigns’ involvement in this group. Let me say that I’m very high on Reigns as a performer, and aside from being the prototypical power guy for this faction, I don’t think he fits with Rollins, Ambrose, and presumably Punk as much as a guy like Kassius Ohno or Corey Graves would have, due to their history on the independent circuit. Personally I would have debuted Reigns on his own, once he had developed a solid character for himself that works. I have no idea what that character would be, but I know he hasn’t found it yet. That being said, I am willing to see where this goes. Maybe working with top-level talent will help Reigns develop a character that makes him more than just a promising superstar with a good look.
Within this storyline, going forward you need only reveal that Reigns, Ambrose, and Rollins are working with Punk and Heyman. Have Punk explain that the revolution he promised is now beginning. Have him say it’s time for new blood to be injected into the WWE, and for them to topple the company-manufactured pillars that are Cena, Ryback, and eventually Dwayne. Then simply have them look strong. The downfall of most factions in recent memory is that they are built around one guy, with all the other members being made to look weak constantly. Luke Gallows, Joseph Mercury, and Serena never looked strong in the Straight Edge Society, everyone in Nexus was a joke aside from Barrett. Make Reigns, Ambrose and Rollins look good, and people will see this faction as a legitimate threat, which is what they need to be.
There you have it, but what do you think? Do you think Roman Reigns has a shot at making it on the main roster? Do you find him out of place paired with Rollins and Ambrose? How would you have brought him to the main roster, and what character would you saddle him with? Is it just me or does Roman Reigns look like Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas saying Dexter has really made a comeback this season. The last two seasons were pretty crappy for all intents and purposes, and with new writers came fresh and compelling TV. Take notes WWE. Have a great Thanksgiving my American friends, and try not to get trampled on Black Friday!