“The Truth Reigns” theme song hits and a giant moving spotlight zooms in on an imposing figure in the bleachers beginning to making his descent towards the WWE ring-goateed, flowing wet hair, and all the visual makings of the company’s next John Cena - at least one would think.
Unfortunately, the latter hasn’t exactly gone as planned for Joe Anoa’i aka Roman Reigns since the WWE’s higher-ups deemed the former Shield powerhouse worthy of the push of his life ala a main event spot at the grandest stage of them all: Wrestlemania 31 against the company’s top draw -“The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar. And why would they have thought any different?
Unfortunately the young superstar was a lot further from his cultivating moment, which will mostly be remembered for “The Future” Seth Rollins’ Money In The Bank cash-in and a Lesnar-inducing “supplex city, bitch.”
For better or worse, this is a testament to Reigns’ inability to fully gain control of the WWE Universe, which in turn, has prevented him from being able to grab any of the very unimaginary brass rings set up for him since falling short at the company’s top event.
However, despite Roman’s struggles to get over, there are more than a handful of reasons that greatness is still in the cards for the WWE superstar.
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10 He Has A WrestleMania Main Event Under His Belt
Whether he was ready or not, Roman Reigns was pitted in this year's main event at WrestleMania, and all things considered, the match was a success. It was booked to showcase both Reigns and Lesnar's strengths. Roman's strength, toughness and presence were all on full display in this match. That experience will do Reigns well in building himself up for future success. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Reigns in next year's main event.
9 It’s In His Blood, Well... For The Most Part
Heck, “the wrassling business” is in his blood - well…. for the most part. The young Samoan indeed comes from a long heritage of WWE superstars, but there is half truth to that notion; as it pertains to what’s being told on TV.
Although Reigns isn’t legitimately related to all those he’s billed to be, he is considered “cousin-close” to big names such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jimmy “The Superfly” Snuka, and daughter/current WWE Diva Tamina, amongst several others.
The half white storyline lie planted by WWE creatives that Roman was blood related to The Rock was all a forced attempt to get Reigns more over by the time Mania rolled in.
However, truth be told, Reigns is the real-life son of Sika of the Hall of Fame tag team, The Wild Samoans; and little brother of Rosey - mostly known for his 3-Minute Warning stint.
If one were to go through the entire Anoa’i family tree, they’d be at an immense shortage of breath. Here, I’ll name just a few more: Rikishi and his sons, Jey and Jimmy Uso.
Clearly, the WWE did everything they could to distance Reigns from association with any of his relatives during his successful run with The Shield. Now they appear to be grasping at straws to get audiences to acknowledge it and like him. Oh the intricacies of a storyline!
8 He’s Got The Look
With a 6-foot-3 muscular frame and 17 hours worth of labor in the form of a Samoan tribal tattoo across his right arm, Reigns undoubtedly embodies everything Vince McMahon and Triple H are looking for in the next big superstar.
After all, relatively small grapplers such as The Miz, Daniel Bryan and especially Dolph Ziggler have all been held back or buried; likely due to their lack of a dominating presence - And with the goat-faced superstar on the shelf, and a rather lean CM Punk long gone, it doesn’t seem that trend is changing anytime soon.
7 The Rock Started Down A Similar Path
The Rock undeniably wasn’t the same top draw or A-Lister we have come to know and love today. Case in point: his horrendous failure to connect with people when he debuted as a pineapple-haired happy-go-lucky babyface at 1996’s Survivor Series. Despite this, the WWE tried to then shove “Rocky Maivia” down the throats of the marks.
As a matter of fact, he was booed out of nearly every building he entered. That is until the cocky Rock persona was invented and he turned heel. Thereafter, he went on to become a pioneer for WWE’s Attitude Era alongside some of the other legends such as Stone Cold Steve Austin. Hence, he’s earned “The People’s Champ” moniker.
In actuality, Reigns has received similar responses to his good guy character. Although his heel run as a singles competitor for the man with The Superman Punch yet to be discussed, it may be his path to greatness - That is, if good ol’ Dwayne was any indication of it.
If the WWE did make the decision to go ahead and ignore the overwhelming fan negativity to Reigns and not give the strap to Rollins, then chances are, they would have gone the heel route with him and equipped his character with the company’s greatest mouthpiece, Paul Heyman - Until they felt he was ready both in the ring and on the mic; a weakness Reigns has been ripped in wrestling dirt sheets for.
6 He Has Physicality In His Background
Long before Reigns was working his way through WWE crowds, Reigns was running out of stadium tunnels onto the football gridiron. In his collegiate pigskin days donning the uniform of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets from 2004 to 2006, even playing alongside Calvin “Megatron” Johnson.
He even got drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2007. However, he was given his release within a month and picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team inked him to a deal that August, but let him go in less than a week’s time.
Regardless of his luck playing pro football, Reigns’ accolades in the game itself at a young age proves that he has the physicality to have a long, healthy and prosperous wrestling career (more on this later).
5 He’s At A Good Wrestling Age
After just turning 30 on May 26, Reigns is definitely no spring chicken. But, also nowhere near an old geezer, especially in pro wrestling. With a slew of pay-per-view main events already under his belt and more to come, the sky's the limit for Reigns.
This is more evident when you look at some of the older ages of his peers that have won their first World Heavyweight Title within the last decade: The Miz, 30, Sheamus, 31, Batista, 36.
4 He’s Showed Durability (For The Most Part)
Aside from going under the knife for an incarcerated hernia on Sept. 20, 2014, Roman has been pretty damn durable - although arguments could be made that he was more protected and his ring time was reduced greatly while he was in a faction with Dean Ambrose and Rollins (The Shield). On the other hand, he was extremely physical nonetheless during that time, having to power bomb some rather large superstars such as The Big Show and Ryback in numerous spots.
All in all, in a sport that inevitably comes with a seemingly endless amount of bumps, bruises and stiff workers, Reigns has managed to deal with the WWE’s endless workload rather well.
Does the fact that he isn’t a high flyer minimize his risk for injury? It certainly does - but he’s kept his body seemingly healthy.
3 He Still Hasn’t Reached His Peak
Still working on his mic skills, and with his wrestling skillset (a spear, Samoan drop, and Superman Punch) still in dire need of expansion, Reigns isn’t exactly a ring general just yet. However, you can rest assured the WWE knows that and is continuing to work on it with him.
As of January, he was already in the midst of taking acting classes with famed coach Howard Fine - after a repeatedly failing to optimize his in-ring promos.
With NXT future stars from such as Adrian Neville, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn now slowly being worked into the main roster mix, upping his game is a must-and judging by how he has turned it up in his recent feuds with Lesnar, Bryan and Big Show, the man is well on his way.
Interestingly enough and undoubtedly forgotten, Reigns did receive the “Most Improved” award by the Wrestling Observer in 2013. Another notch up cutting promos and incorporating a few more moves into his repertoire should put Reigns right where he needs to be with the WWE Universe - babyface or heel.
2 He’s Taking Negative Reactions Like A Champ
You would have to be deaf and blind to not pick up on any of the negative crowd reactions, or lack thereof that Reigns has dealt with; especially after this year’s win at the Royal Rumble.
The Rock was brought out after Reigns’ victory at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly to help crowd out the anticipated boos for the struggling babyface. A one-time Top-Grossing Actor or not, the harsh reaction of the WWE Universe still overpowered The Rock’s pops.
While it was a Jan. 26 Raw conducted at the company’s Stanford, CT headquarters, Reigns appeared to shoot on the issue at hand when he made the following comments to Michael Cole:
"The way I look at it, when you go into that arena you cheer or boo whoever you want. As long as I can show up and perform and do my thing, I'm happy,” he said.
1 He Was The Muscle Behind A Historically Dominant Stable
As the muscle in the “Hounds of Justice”, Reigns got to work alongside two other now-main eventers; Rollins and Ambrose. The WWE creative brass would not have paired these three individuals together if they felt that any one of them would be a hindrance to one another’s career.
In the recent Ambrose versus Rollins feud, Reigns took a backseat to the main title picture yet again.
In his defense, aside from Lesnar, any future feuds with Rollins - who doesn’t appear to be dropping the strap anytime soon, are yet to be made clear, as the company’s upper card talent is paper thin.
On the upside, the WWE Universe has still yet to see a true one-on-one match on a large stage between the likes of Reigns and Rollins. This could indicate that Triple H and company are buying Reigns the time necessary to be ready in the next couple months.
While it goes without saying, the WWE’s storylines and the directions of its characters, are always subject to change. But like it or not, chances are that we are witnessing the slow evolution of a man destined for greatness - and his name is Roman Reigns.
He can. He will. Believe that!
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