Roman Reigns is now head of the table in the Bloodline Faction, and is the leader of one of the greatest teams of all time. He is a double world champion, has held the Universal title for two years and is putting on fantastic matches whenever he is booked to wrestle.
The fans love him. Something that would never be uttered just a few short years ago. You may be shocked to learn he used to be the most hated man in wrestling. Here we will analyse why fans hated Roman Reigns when he first went solo and the reason behind the poor opinion of him over the years.
Fans Wanted Him To Let Go Of The Shield
As soon as Seth Rollins turned on the Shield, he and Dean Ambrose forged their own new personas. Rollins became the lackey to Triple H and the golden boy of the villainous Authority. Meanwhile, Ambrose became enraged with revenge and used his anger and fury in the ring to take revenge on those who wrong him. They had new attire, new music and an entirely different direction.
Meanwhile, Roman Reigns continued to come out in the same old costume, with The Shield’s old music and had the exact same attitude as he did before. He couldn’t let go of his past life and move on, making the whole thing a bit sad really.
He also never dealt with the betrayal by Rollins. He didn’t seem to care how his “brother” turned his back on them and wrapped a chair around The Big Dog’s face. He just moved on to wrestling Kane and Big Show for two years, cracking wise and putting on the worst promos known to man. He just pretended he was still in the Shield and nothing had changed, which made fans annoyed.
Pushed Too Fast, Too Soon and Above Other Talents
Roman Reigns was put in high profile feuds straight away. This was the wrong way to go about it. Fans did not want to see him grapple with the top of the card yet, they had others who deserved to get their first. Ignoring the obvious (Daniel Bryan), fans wanted to see the likes of Cesaro, Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler finally get their spot in the main event, not have Reigns have it handed to him because he looked the part.
He was pushed into big money singles matches before he was ready. While he is one of the best wrestlers in the company now, back then he still had a lot to learn, mainly just wrestling in six-man tag matches alongside the rest of the Shield.
His biggest exposure was during his 2014 Summerslam match with Randy Orton. It’s a long forgotten one due to how boring it was, with Reigns looking lost even with a veteran like Orton. He won the match after a poor performance and showed people why he was not ready to be a main even star yet – yet WWE persisted
He then won the 2015 Royal Rumble instead of the returning Daniel Bryan. While this lead to the rumble being ruined and the fans BOOING THE ROCK FOR GOD SAKE, WWE decided to have Reigns BEAT BRYAN AGAIN, this time in as singles match at Fastlane 2015. It was perfect booking for your top heel, but for the top face it was baffling.
His Mic Skills Were Comically Bad
Roman Reigns may be related to The Rock, but microphone skills are not genetic. In 2022 you can argue him to be one of the best on the mic in WWE, but go back 8 years and he was one of the worst. Stilted speech, a lack of confidence in his words and lines that felt like they were written for anybody else but him – simply nothing went right for the Big Dog.
He proved his inadequacies in multiple ways, with two the most notable.
The first was his TERRIBLE promo prior to Wrestlemania 31, which as become known as the “Sufferin’ Succotash” promo. The phrase most closely related to Yosemite Sam from Looney Tunes about 80 years prior reared it’s baffling head on an Episode of Smackdown, as Reigns went on to claim Seth Rollins had “Donkey Dunk for Brains” and other equally cool things you want your top face saying.
The other was his absolute decimation in a promo battle against John Cena before Battleground 2016. This was meant to be a passing of the torch match, from Cena to Samoan Cena, but nothing in the script said that the 16 time champion had to hold his tongue and let Reigns off easy.
John Cena outclassed Reigns on the mic, exposing his lack of talent in one of the most tense and interesting promo duels in years. Reigns won the eventual match but the memory of his embarrassment lived long in the memory.
Speaking of John Cena…
Roman Reigns Was The Next John Cena
That is what the WWE wanted when they cast Roman Reigns as the star of Monday Night Raw. John Cena’s time at the top was coming to an end and his head was being turned by offers from movies and TV shows. He was just coming off a Wrestlemania victory over Bray Wyatt when The Shield imploded and would soon win his 15th (of 16) World Championships at Money in the Bank 2014.
Fans were sick and tired of it. He was close tying Ric Flair’s record title reigns, despite having a much shorter, less storied career. They had seen everything Cena had to offer – and continually rejected him to the deafening silence of Vince McMahon sticking his fingers in his ears and pretending he didn’t hear anything,
Roman Reigns felt like just another John Cena. Ultimate good guy who never wavered from his good intentions, and who won all his matches despite being contently shown as the underdog who had absolutely no way of winning. It was so predictable it made the show so boring, as you knew what was going to happen before you’d even seen who he was wrestling that night.
It was boring. Anti-heroes like CM Punk had come and gone, with WWE not allowing them the space to succeed. Then Daniel Bryan became everything they wanted, but he was soon rejected for the likes of Batista and Reigns.
After a decade of dominance from John Cena, fans couldn’t face another one. So they did what they could – booed him out of every arena in the country until their voices were heard. And it wasn’t, because Vince McMahon is a child.