In 2012, the WWE debuted The Shield in epic fashion by saving CM Punk’s championship reign from John Cena and Ryback at Survivor Series. After that point, the members of The Shield would all begin to stand out in their own unique way and the faction seemed like it was going to be one of the best of all time, but before they legitimately started going after World Titles, the WWE broke up the group. Seth Rollins became the corporate boy in the corner of The Authority, Dean Ambrose became the lunatic obsessed with vengeance against Rollins, and Roman Reigns maintained everything that he was as a member of The Shield.
As time went on, many fans were wondering who out of The Shield would get the biggest push and be hailed as the WWE’s top guy, the WWE answered them in the 2015 Royal Rumble. Reigns would win to the dismay of the fans and would spend the better part of 2015 winning the fans back. There would be so much back and forth between the fans and Reigns that now the reactions he garners aren’t as strong, nor are they the desired reaction by the WWE.
Though it isn’t what the WWE wanted, they have no one to blame but themselves for failing to do the things necessary to get Reigns over and tweak his character when needed. Reigns could’ve been one of the top guys like Batista had his booking been a little more in-line with what the fans wanted, but instead they’ve done almost everything necessary to ruin him.
To help them out a little, this article will look at the 15 biggest mistakes the WWE has made with Roman Reigns.
15 Suffering Succotash and The Beanstalk Promo
Let’s just get the easy one out of the way.
When Roman Reigns returned from injury, the WWE had him come back in convincing fashion by helping John Cena defeat Seth Rollins and The Authority’s lackeys. The crowd was still solidly behind Reigns and his character as a stoic, mostly silent badass would’ve been much easier for the fans to accept than what the WWE had him do later.
In what can only be assumed as a means of trying to give him more personality, the WWE had Reigns cut some extremely corny promos that only served to make him look like a joke. Reigns had cut bad promos before, or stumbled once or twice, but the sheer cheesiness of two of his promos leading to the Royal Rumble completely ruined the persona he had established as a member of The Shield and it was this booking that probably made his Rumble victory that much harder for the fans to accept.
14 No Real Midcard Run
When looking at the booking of Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, the situations really should’ve been reversed, especially considering the difference between their crowd reactions. Ambrose probably should’ve jumped into the main event scene considering his booking while Reigns should’ve had a run at a midcard championship.
Reigns did work the midcard every once and a while, but it wasn't enough. The first time to build him up as a credible Superstar and the second time to rehab his character following the Rumble fallout.
As of now, he has never held a midcard championship and it’s for that very reason that the fans felt he was being pushed too soon. The WWE teased the idea of Reigns fighting in the midcard at this year’s SummerSlam, but that feud was ended pretty quickly. Now that could’ve been to save time for the show, but that also could’ve been done to indicate that Reigns is returning to the main event for good.
13 Pretending He Was The Shield's Leader
In 2014, towards the end of The Shield’s run, the WWE was attempting to push the narrative that Roman Reigns was the leader of The Shield. In fact, in their epic match at Elimination Chamber against The Wyatt Family, Michael Cole can be heard calling him the leader of the Shield.
Now some would say that they were clearly trying to have him be portrayed as the better man when they had Reigns defeat CM Punk on the 2014 Old School Raw episode, but it became even more noticeable from that point forward. After that point, Reigns would always be in the center of the trio and would often kick off any action that the group embarked upon. Whether it was completely turning their back on The Authority or kicking off a big match, Reigns was portrayed as the leader and it really didn’t feel genuine. Many fans were happier with the notion that The Shield was a group of equals; each with their own unique skillset to get the job done.
But if there was to be a leader for the group, it would’ve only made more sense that it was the group’s mouthpiece rather than the powerhouse of the group.
12 Going Against His Personality
While the WWE has been forcing the notion that Roman Reigns was a babyface that should be cheered for, the fans have been very vocal in their displeasure of Reigns. In fact, most fans said they would accept Reigns as a heel rather than a babyface. Based on the videos of him in NXT, he seemed like a much better fit as a heel rather than a face. A video of Reigns in NXT dressed in a suit and being a heel was riddled with comments of fans saying he seemed much more comfortable doing that as opposed to acting like a cheery John Cena-esque babyface. And before his suspension, he was acting like a heel telling the fans to be quiet while he was talking to Ambrose and it sounded more natural and genuine than the majority of the stuff he had said since The Shield broke up.
He clearly seems more comfortable in a role where he is antagonizing the fans, so why the WWE constantly chooses to have him do the opposite is beyond understanding at this point.
11 Not Giving Him a Manager
Even though Roman Reigns seems like he would be better as a guy who only talks when he needs to, the fact remains that he isn’t that good on the microphone in general. And with that in mind, the WWE could’ve benefited greatly by giving Roman Reigns a manager.
Reigns has the look of a star, he’s good in the ring, and he has a presence when he’s all serious and not trying to be Cena 2.0. So if the only thing he’s missing is a mouthpiece, why wouldn’t the WWE just bring one in for him? There is a plethora of people who could cut promos on his behalf and make him seem like the best thing on earth. Whether it's Paul Heyman or Paul Ellering or someone else that the WWE trusts, Reigns could’ve benefited from an old school concept like a full-time manager.
10 Giving Him The Main Event Push So Soon
Whether you’re the biggest Roman Reigns supporter or you’re one of his biggest critics, you must be aware of the fact that he was pushed too soon. The Shield break up put him in position to slowly build up more familiarity in the main event scene, but the WWE pushed ahead a little too early by having him win the 2015 edition of the Royal Rumble.
They didn’t have him win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania, but fans still resented him for even being placed in that position. He recovered as the year went on, but the fact that he won the World Title so many times after being a main eventer for a few months made fans feel like he was being shoved down their throats.
As stated previously, his lack of a midcard run really hurt him in regard to how the fans perceived him. Only people who hate him entirely will say he should’ve never been a main eventer, but even the most adamant Reigns support can see that going from fighting Kane and Big Show to being a Royal Rumble winner and future World Champion doesn’t add up.
9 Not Turning Him Heel
After Roman Reigns started receiving major fan backlash for getting pushed as soon as he was, it would’ve been in the best interest of the WWE on several occasions to turn Reigns heel.
The first occurrence was at the 2015 Royal Rumble when Reigns won to the dismay of majority of the fans in attendance, the second was at the 2015 Survivor Series match where Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose were fighting in the main event for the WWE Championship following Rollins’ unfortunate injury. The third was following the return of Seth Rollins, who was receiving babyface reactions despite his heelish tactics; setting the stage for a double turn at the Money in the Bank PPV and perhaps the biggest one was just recently when Finn Bálor defeated him on Raw and Tom Phillips asked him what his thoughts were.
Those were some of the biggest opportunities the WWE had to turn Reigns heel and give the fans what they wanted, but they were ignored, as most fans desires are. Reigns is currently involved in a feud with Rusev and the fans seem somewhat into it. Only time will tell if this can prevent the heel turn that fans have desired for months.
8 Making No Changes to Him
When The Shield broke up, they all did different things to define themselves and establish different identities.
Seth Rollins started wearing suits and began wearing wrestling tights, Dean Ambrose started wearing nothing more than jeans and a t-shirt, but Roman Reigns kept The Shield’s music, their entrance, and their body armor.
By keeping all of those things, Reigns was essentially the exact same person he was in The Shield, despite the group no longer existing. It was one thing to keep one or two characteristics from The Shield, but the fact that little to no changes were made seemed like a wasted opportunity.
Now the body armor look does work for Reigns, so keeping a similar look wasn’t that big of a problem, but there was really no reason for him to keep their entrance and the theme music too. Only time will tell if Reigns will truly cut all ties from the group that he once was a part of.
7 Winning The 2015 Royal Rumble
The opinion of Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble in 2015 was a bit of a divisive topic. On one hand there was Daniel Bryan, who had finally come back from injury and could’ve been placed in that match no question, and on the other hand it was the opportunity to create a new star by having someone else win the Rumble. The Rumble took place in Philadelphia, one of their more vocal and hardcore fan bases, so it would’ve taken some clever booking to get anyone other than the internet darlings over after Bryan lost. And clever booking was the exact opposite of the booking of the 2015 Royal Rumble.
It started with The Miz, for whatever reason, and seemed like it would be okay with the return of Bubba Ray Dudley and The Boogeyman, but it went downhill when Bryan was eliminated after five minutes. The Rock, who was in attendance for the show, wasn’t a Rumble entrant for some reason; most likely a movie contract stipulation and to make a bad situation worse, Big Show and Kane all of a sudden became dominant Superstars eliminating Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Ryback, and Dolph Ziggler like they were trash. All for Reigns to anticlimactically win against Rusev.
6 Making Him a Three-Time Champion
Despite the push back from the Royal Rumble, most fans were okay with Roman Reigns winning the WWE Championship at some point in time. After all, The Shield was the WWE’s biggest success story thus far and it was only a matter of time before all three members of the group would have held a World Title at some point.
However, the fact that Reigns has held the World Championship three times in less than a year is a bit much even for the most adamant Reigns supporters. And unlike Mick Foley, who held the World Title multiple times in a short span of time, Reigns wasn’t having epic matches or involved in an epic feud that made his multiple title reigns excusable. The first time he won the title was somewhat acceptable to the fans, the second time the fans really got behind him, but by the time the third championship was within his grasp, the fans completely turned on him. If the idea was to get Reigns over and not mess that up, he honestly shouldn’t have lost the title when he won it from Sheamus, but that will be discussed later on.
5 Booking Him So Strong
For those of you who noticed, Roman Reigns lost three times within the span of a month following the news of his suspension. He lost against Rollins at Money in the Bank, against Dean Ambrose at Battleground, and against former NXT Superstar Finn Bálor on the first Raw since the brand split. Those three losses are not only the only clean losses Reigns has sustained since the year began, but they are also the first time in years, practically since his debut, that Reigns has lost clean at all.
The closest fans he's come to losing clean would be the match at Elimination Chamber against The Wyatt Family, but if multi-man matches aren’t to be included then Reigns hadn’t lost clean since the year 2012. All the losses he sustained either were the results of disqualifications, interference, or distractions that occurred. And while dominant wins do help wrestlers build credibility, no losses at all, without the fan support to boot, ultimately results in resentment for receiving strong booking when other Superstars do not.
4 Putting His Title on the Line in the Royal Rumble Match
After Reigns went savage and annihilated both The League of Nations and Triple H after he was screwed out of the WWE Championship, he won the title the following night on Raw. It took a while to get there, but the WWE managed to get Roman Reigns over as a main event player. All it would’ve took was a big time challenger for the WWE Championship and a big storyline for Reigns to build upon his momentum as the World Champion and stay over with the crowd. And with the Royal Rumble around the corner, the WWE had the perfect opportunity to keep Reigns in good standing with the fans.
Unfortunately, the WWE opted to make Reigns potentially look even stronger by placing his World Title on the line in the Royal Rumble match and this ultimately put them back at square one as fans didn’t want to see Reigns win his second Royal Rumble in two years nor did they wish to see him become a three-time World Champion so soon. But the WWE did it anyway and as a result, Reigns lost all his fan support and was booed consistently for months.
3 Not Facing Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 32
When Roman Reigns won the Royal Rumble and was scheduled to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 21, many fans were expecting a boring match between the two with an anticlimactic Reigns victory. Instead, the match between the two was very physical and exciting almost the entire time and ended on an even more exciting note when Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and won the World Title. But with Rollins winning the title came the possibility of a rematch between Reigns and Lesnar at some point to finish things. Fast forward to 2016 and the WWE was in perfect position to flip the script from last year and have Reigns as the defending champion with Lesnar as the challenger and because Lesnar is as unbeatable as John Cena, there would be a much bigger chance that he would’ve won against Reigns and thus make the story more interesting.
Instead, the WWE placed Reigns’ title on the line, Triple H robbed him of it, and WrestleMania ended with a finish we saw coming miles away.
2 Pushing Him Ahead of Dean Ambrose
As stated before, the WWE pushed Roman Reigns to the top of the mountain before some fans believed he was ready. Though he had the look and a good enough moveset, many fans believed he wasn’t developed enough as a wrestler and a character to win the WWE Championship.
In fact, many fans wished that Dean Ambrose would get the push Reigns was getting and that Reigns would get Ambrose’s push. Though Ambrose didn’t have any more credibility than Reigns at the time, the fact remained that Dean was the most popular member of The Shield. Reigns was also popular, but Ambrose reactions were much stronger due to his character and his mic skills.
All they had to do was switch the roles and both wrestlers would’ve benefited. Instead, Reigns and Ambrose both suffered due to their booking as Dean's popularity declined slightly while Reigns was getting booed out of the building more often than not.
1 Trying to Make Him "The Guy"
This isn’t necessarily any fault of Roman Reigns, but more so a fault with the way the WWE likes to book certain wrestlers. During The Attitude and Ruthless Aggression Eras, there were multiple top stars that could’ve held the championship and supported the company if asked to do so. Even though there were some who were clearly favored more than others, the fact remained that there were a lot of top guys ready to fill the void should something happen to the main guy.
Fast forward to the present, before the brand split, and it was clear that the WWE only wanted to make one wrestler the focal point the same way the PG era of the WWE focused majority of its attention on John Cena. This formula of multiple guys with solid booking and credibility had worked numerous times in the past and helped improve the star power of the show, so it’s confusing why the WWE continued to focus on one guy at a time when it doesn’t work. Luckily the brand split has a chance at correcting that, but history has shown that separate brands don’t necessarily mean that other wrestlers get elevated.