Turnbuckle Post: Insulting the Intelligent
By: Peter Bahi
Going back to this year’s Royal Rumble, word got out that Roman Reigns was going to win the Rumble, go on to Wrestlemania and face Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The match made perfect sense; the two have never faced off in a one on one match, which is rare considering the amount of time the company has to fill in for a three hour Raw, two hour Smackdown, one hour Superstars and one hour Main Event.
The final decision came down to Vince McMahon; everyone in creative was excited for this match, and why wouldn’t they be? Roman Reigns, at this time period, was on the rise. He had been the stand out of the Shield; he was even cheered at last year’s Royal Rumble because word got out Batista was going to end up winning to face off against Randy Orton to headline Wrestlemania 30. Though lacking credibility on the independent circuit, Roman Reigns physical appearance had overshadowed his lack of charisma. He was teaming with two other guys in Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose who were able to foreshadow his inability to speak on a microphone and give him enough time to develop his character in the ring.
However you look at it, Roman Reigns had done all the right things to set himself up as the next big star in the company. His Superman Punch was not something a pro wrestling audience was accustomed to seeing, but how can anyone, especially those who have a geek side to them, not cheer for a guy who does anything Superman related? Anything Roman Reigns had done during the time period, everyone cheered, Vince McMahon saw this, he heard this, and the call was made for Roman Reigns to replace John Cena as the face of the company.
Then on September 20th, 2014, the WWE sent out the following message on their website:
“WWE.com has learned Roman Reigns has been rushed to a Nashville, Tenn., hospital to undergo emergency surgery for an incarcerated hernia. Reigns had been in Nashville to promote tomorrow’s Night of Champions event. His recovery time will be evaluated by the local surgeon and WWE physician Dr. Chris Amann following today’s operation. Check back with WWE.com for updates on Reigns’ condition.”
Although this injury was considered life threatening, it became more apparent as months went on, that the incarcerated hernia was character threatening as well. The momentum for Roman Reigns had vastly dwindled down and fans began to lose interest.
If anyone were to argue the notion that character is not important in professional wrestling, one just needs to take a look at how one superstar was hand-picked to become the face of the company, while the other had worked hard from the ground up to become a WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Daniel Bryan earned many sympathy cards from the fans because not only was he out during the same time period as Roman Reigns, but he also had lost his father shortly after coming back from his honeymoon.
Roman Reigns was sidelined with a hernia for a little over two months. The fans were on their way to embracing his return until the inevitable happened: Roman Reigns wins Superstar of the Year at the 2014 Slammy Awards. Fans were starting to wonder whether or not the entire voting was rigged by Vince McMahon himself. People were shocked and began questioning their inner fandom. Despite being a bad guy, no one would have argued if Brock Lesnar had won the award. Being the chosen one to break the Undertaker’s winning streak at Wrestlemania would have been enough to garner the award, but Vince McMahon was thinking otherwise: it’s time to get Roman Reigns over whether anyone likes it or not.
Word got out that Roman Reigns was going to win the Royal Rumble and face Brock Lesnar at the main event of Wrestlemania. This is where the fans felt insulted. The idea that someone, who had not yet been accepted 100%, be shoved down their throats in a mere attempt to force feed the fans by telling them who they should and should not cheer for, was enough to give them the leverage to sabotage the Rumble in Philadelphia with boos anytime Roman Reigns did something, anything for that matter.
Rumble was over and Roman Reigns’ hands were raised by none other than The Rock, who was brought in, to once again try to tell the audience who they should and should not cheer for. Vince McMahon did not care about the reaction, he believes the fans will eventually embrace and accept Roman Reigns because Vince McMahon is a genius, Vince McMahon creates stars and you do not.
Despite the main event at Fast Lane being for a spot in the main event of Wrestlemania, it was written all along for Roman Reigns to be victor and Daniel Bryan to slowly fade away from the spotlight. In a make believe world, reality set in: whether we like it or not, Roman Reigns will face Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania, not because the fans want to see it, but because Vince McMahon is telling you what you are going to see and smile along the way.
In the early years of professional wrestling, it was done this exact way and you would embrace it because that was what you did. Today, with the power of social media, everyone has a say. No longer will the fan be told who he should accept as the top guy. Roman Reigns was on the rise to replace John Cena as the face of the company, but that spot is not given. Roman Reigns has pro wrestling bloodlines; not something he earned, but something that was genetically handed down to him. Fans who want to embrace anyone to be the top star of the company has got to earn their respect. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Cesaro and Daniel Bryan come from the breed that being a star with the company, the audience hands it to you by working hard from the ground up and proving to the fan that you deserve to be on the roster. Most know the amount of financial security a professional wrestler with the WWE has, and know that to earn that sort of living is a privilege and not a right. To be a star you have to shine, and if you don’t shine and are just handed the crown, you will be hated; it is that simple. Today’s wrestling audience will not tolerate Vince McMahon or anyone else telling them what to accept. Times have changed.
At this year’s Wrestlemania the main event is set up between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. Most anticipate Brock Lesnar to be cheered throughout the match and Roman Reigns to be booed anytime he gets on the offensive side, especially the Superman punch, which at one time was beloved.
Wrestlemania 31 has a different buzz to it than years’ past. Will this be the fall of the Roman Empire or the rise? If Brock Lesnar does not re-sign with the company, is the fan going to have to begin to accept Roman Reigns as the top star of the company? Or, will the Santa Clara crowd chant for Seth Rollins to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase?
Regardless of your beliefs on Roman Reigns, you will have to embrace his presence on the main show; Vince McMahon told you so.
— Peter Bahi