When I made my return to watching WWE after a long hiatus, I didn’t really know what to expect. It was following the Rumble on the lead up to Wrestlemania 30 and everyone I knew who liked wrestling was just more and more excited as time grew.
I’d hear how they thought CM Punk was coming back, get showered in CM Punk promo videos and matches when I inquired into why exactly everyone loved him. Then they’d tell me about Bryan and how exciting the whole build to Wrestlemania was.
I finally gave in. I watched Wrestlemania 30 at a friends house and that was my return to watching WWE programming. But it wasn’t just Daniel Bryan that had instantly won me over to the WWE, I was also hugely into the Shield and that just grew with time.
Roman Reigns was my favorite guy in the stable, followed closely by Ambrose. Every week I was excited just to see them appear, I didn’t care what they were doing. I was just excited to see the Shield on my screen.
Time went on and the stable broke up following Seth Rollins’ betrayal. This was when the first knock against Roman Reigns happened for me as a fan. His first huge character flaw that just didn’t make any sense and made me question the booking decisions, he didn’t really seem to care about getting any kind of payback on Rollins.
Rollins and Ambrose became a money feud, tearing into each other until finally Ambrose got put through cinderblocks in a slow building end to a Monday Night Raw. Where was Roman Reigns? The same man who had cut a promo following the break up to call the Shield his brothers and say he was amazed that Rollins had betrayed them wasn’t even trying to go help Dean. He didn’t care, how does that make sense for a Face? I pushed it away and decided that there was more good than bad I enjoyed about Roman Reigns.
He reacted later by trying to murder Rollins, but I feel like this was more Vince trying to transfer some of the popularity of Ambrose over to Reigns.
His in ring work was visibly improving over time, his selling capabilities have always been fairly good for WWE standards – not too over the top, but he also doesn’t no sell. He usually sells pretty believably, in my eyes. He’s also got a few really crisp moves in his arsenal that he just nails flawlessly and consistently.
Then he got injured. We all knew he was the guy, it was obvious he was the guy. Everyone on the internet was talking about it. The injury just completely killed his momentum. By the time he had returned to the ring, he had lost such a massive amount of time that the build toward him being capable of beating Brock Lesnar had to be accelerated.
At this point, I was still a fan of Reigns. Then he started getting pushed really hard and getting fan back lash to a degree for it online, albeit a minor amount compared to the Rumble. All was still well, just a little questionably rocky, in my eyes. Until he gave this interview with Crave Online. The two big stand out comments come back to back in regards to his criticism.
“I get a lot of love and then you’ll get the hate in the middle of it but its just funny, the perspectives you know, the differences between the love and the hate. As far as the hate, it makes me laugh. Everybody is a critic. Every critic I’ve ever had, they weren’t wrestlers [laughs]. Every wrestler I’ve ever had critique me, they were always into my stuff or what I’m doing out there. For a non-wrestler, someone who doesn’t even know how to lock up, and if we did lock up, they wouldn’t know what to do, for them to critique any of us, it really does pop me.” – Roman Reigns
As if that weren’t enough, he also added in “That’s what haters do. They hate because they hate their lives.”
This was frustrating to me. This is what initially made me sour on Reigns. It wasn’t that he was being pushed too hard, that wasn’t in his control. It wasn’t his in-ring work, his promos, or anything else. It was that he was treating it all like fan criticism didn’t matter. You either liked him or you were a hater that was bitter with your life. And if you didn’t like him, then you had no place to say as much because you aren’t a wrestler.
He went on the win the Royal Rumble, angering fans who wanted to see Daniel Bryan back on top. I started to feel somewhat bad for him, thinking it wasn’t really his fault all of his push was happening. I mean, what young guy is going to say “No, I don’t want my dream yet. Can we wait a year or two?” The opportunities don’t exactly come around often in WWE, ask Zach Ryder or Dolph Ziggler.
I thought maybe Reigns just had a bad interview, but he made it clear that he genuinely believes if you don’t wrestle you have no room to talk about him negatively when he sat down with Sam Roberts for an interview.
“I can’t look at it like and get down on ‘oh, this is what they’re thinking and this is what they’re saying.’ To be honest I really don’t care. I can only do my thing and do the best that I can. The majority of critics, I would say, are people who have no clue what they’re talking about and have never been in a wrestling ring. They’ve never been a public speaker. They wouldn’t even know how to lock up with me if I allowed them to. If I gave them the opportunity to lock up and tangle with me in the ring, they would have no clue what to do so for them to critique or ever say anything about any performer is asinine and just blows my mind.” – Roman Reigns
Later in the interview, he also clarifies that he is indeed just a guy looking to get rich. It’s one thing for a guy to be pushed above where he belongs on the card in the fans eyes. It’s another thing for them to be bad on the microphone and make weird faces whenever they’re trying to look emotionally wounded (Seriously, what is up with that look?). But to be this unbelievably arrogant toward the fans and have the belief you’re that untouchable this young in your career?
I turned on Roman Reigns when he made it clear he had turned on me and every other fan who had an opinion. It wasn’t about him winning the Rumble, it wasn’t about Fastlane. It was his own actions as a person that made me think less of him.
I look forward to his match at Wrestlemania, if only for the hope he gets the Cena-Suplex treatment from Lesnar.