June 2, 2014 – The WWE fans watched in astonishment as Seth Rollins turned his back on Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, effectively destroying ‘The Shield’.
A huge reason as to why the split of The Shield was so heartbreaking to us is because they were so good. For nearly two years, that three-man faction was the backbone of WWE programming. Their matches even made Raw episodes watchable, imagine that! Dean Ambrose was portrayed as the slightly crazy mastermind that was pulling the strings; Seth Rollins was portrayed as the extraordinarily athletic member of the team; and Roman Reigns was portrayed as the powerhouse of the stable. They were a great team.
Now we are over 2 years since the split of the group and a question I’ve been asked by many on social media is, “Why don’t you like Roman Reigns?” It’s a very important question due to the crowd reactions he’s been getting for the last two years and how it’s fairly obvious that he’s being pushed as the next face of the company. So, why don’t I like Roman Reigns?
His character really bothers me. Why? Because it’s the same character he’s had since November 18, 2012 (Debut of The Shield). When The Shield finally split and each guy went their own way, the other two evolved and changed their characters. Dean Ambrose went on to become the “Lunatic Fringe”, an unpredictable maniac; Seth Rollins became a cheating, selfish scumbag; and Roman just stayed the same. His ring gear, theme song, and entrance stayed the same. In addition, he just kept The Shield’s catchphrase.
Look at Chris Jericho. Just in 2016, he’s had about 3 different incarnations of his character. Evolving his character is like drinking water to Chris Jericho, you just do it because you’ll die if you don’t. Now Chris Jericho is one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster, I cannot say that about Roman Reigns. Roman has had the same character since 2012 – he’s just piggybacking on what made The Shield popular with the fans. With that said, why should I care? Why should anyone care about Roman Reigns after The Shield has ended? He’s like a girlfriend (or boyfriend) that’s in denial over a breakup and just keeps going to the same restaurant that the couple used to go to. Would you want to be in a relationship with a person who’s still hung up on their previous relationship and refuses to move on? That’s how I feel about Roman Reigns as a character. He needs to move on, change.
The question I’ve had since July 2014 when Roman first started to get this push is why has nothing changed? As mentioned earlier, Dean and Seth went off and became individuals, they got their own character. We were given reasons to support them or despise them. What did we get (and still get) with Roman after The Shield broke up? “Oh, hey guys! Look, I was part of that stable you guys liked so much! I still have the music and walk down the stairs. Do you like me?” You know what’s sad? That WWE has given us more of a reason to support Heath Slater than they have with Roman Reigns. We visited Slater’s trailer and learned how much he needed to win the SmackDown Tag Team titles. Heath needed to do it for his family and for his career. What does Roman Reigns do? “I’m not a bad guy. I’m not a good guy. I’m THE guy!” I at least give props to them for giving him something that isn’t related to The Shield, however, he wouldn’t have even gotten that catchphrase if it wasn’t for the crowds booing him out of the building week after week after week.
Back in May 2015, I tuned into the “Roman Reigns: Never Alone” WWE 24 special on the WWE Network. In that special, he seemed like a really likable guy. I was given his backstory, what’s important to him, etc. I was given reasons to support him. The problem is, none of that is shown in his character on WWE programming. All we see every week is a guy wearing a Shield costume and coming out to The Shield’s music.
Many people like to blame Daniel Bryan as the reason people don’t like Roman Reigns, and I disagree with that. Yes, Daniel Bryan was the most popular wrestler on the roster during some of Roman’s push, but I don’t think the problem was Daniel Bryan. We, the fans, weren’t only interested in Daniel Bryan. Most of us also liked Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Cesaro and more. If you were to ask me if I think the fans would boo someone like Cesaro out of the building after winning the 2015 Royal Rumble match, the same match where Daniel Bryan was eliminated, I would say no. I don’t believe Cesaro would’ve been treated the same nor numerous others that people liked, so I don’t buy the argument that Daniel Bryan is to be blamed for the reactions to Roman Reigns. Instead, I blame the handling of Roman. The problem isn’t that other wrestlers are more liked, the problem is that Roman Reigns isn’t likable enough.
Is it Roman’s fault that he’s not likable and hasn’t changed since the split of The Shield? Not entirely. I blame Vince McMahon for the majority of it. He has the final say in anything that happens in WWE, especially when it comes to the top guys such as Roman Reigns. He is the one who didn’t see a reason to change anything. I actually see Roman Reigns as a victim of a man who is out of touch. Vince McMahon is not only out of touch on what the fans want to see, but he’s also out of touch on how to build up a superstar. Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, The Rock, Eddie Guerrero, The Undertaker, Kurt Angle, and yes, even John Cena are huge superstars. They each have their own, individual characters that either makes them liked or hated. It seems like Vince McMahon forgot how to create a superstar and give people a reason to care, and that’s my problem with Roman Reigns, I don’t care about his successes or failures because I don’t care about him as a character.