The WWE is desperately trying to build Roman Reigns into the new face of their company as someone who can assume John Cena's mantle as the company's top babyface. They need someone new to market to fans around the world, help sell out t-shirts, and to be counted on to be there whenever they need him for anything and to becounted on to never embarrass the company. So far, however, the plan hasn't exactly worked the way they would like it to as fans have yet to fully embrace Reigns.
With Cena currently sidelined after undergoing shoulder surgery and not getting any younger, the WWE has finally realized that they need to build up new stars. The controversial departure of CM Punk and the rash of injuries to Daniel Bryan that ultimately led to his retirement has left a gaping void of star power in the WWE, a gap that has only widened with a growing number of superstars having suffered injuries since last year's WrestleMania. So being able to grow a new star is key, especially as they head into WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas where they hope to break their all-time attendance record.
The WWE has continued to try to push Roman Reigns to be their new biggest star, but it continues to fail and fans continue to boo Reigns every chance they get. They've put themselves into a tough spot with a WrestleMania main event featuring Reigns that no one is too excited about, but if you've been following wrestling for any length of time, it's easy to see where they've gone wrong and why Roman Reigns isn't over.
15 He Represents Vince McMahon's Vision Of What A Wrestler Should Look Like
It's long been known that Vince McMahon has his own vision of what a wrestler should look like. He prefers large men with bodybuilder like physiques over smaller, less muscular guys. It's one of the factors that held back guys like Punk, Bryan, and most recently Kevin Owens for a long time. Fans of course realize the idea that a wrestler must be in peak physical condition is often overblown and typically the most talented superstars are the ones who gain people's affection. One of the problems Reigns faces is that at 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds he perfectly fits Vince McMahon's vision and feeds into the notion that he is only where is today because of his appearance.
14 He's The Rock's Cousin
As a member of Anoa'i family, Reigns comes from a background with a rich history in professional wrestling. His most notable relative is the Rock and the WWE has tried to utilize this fact on numerous occasions, having The Rock endorse Reigns to try to put him over, but it hasn't really helped. While there's no question that Reigns should be proud of his heritage, promoting that he has family in the business also lends itself to the idea that he has received preferential treatment. As we've seen with other second generation superstars, it's also puts unnecessary pressure on him to live up to his family's history.
13 The 2015 Royal Rumble
Heading into the 2014 Royal Rumble, most wrestling fans were hoping that Daniel Bryan would come out of the event with a ticket to a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania. So when Bryan not only didn't win the Rumble match, but wasn't even involved in the bout, fans were livid. Reigns did not win the Rumble, but he was the star of the match, eliminating a record 12 competitors before being thrown over the top rope by the match's victor, Batista.
Fast forward to the 2015 Royal Rumble, and many were expecting the WWE to right their wrong from the previous year by having Daniel Bryan win the Rumble. Instead, Bryan was eliminated early and Reigns went on to pick up the victory. This gave Bryan's fans a reason to dislike Reigns and a large portion of them still haven't gotten over it.
12 The Authority Dynamic
For the better part of two decades, the people in charge of the WWE have gone on television telling their fans not to support the company's biggest superstars and portraying themselves as villains with the idea that fans will gravitate towards the superstars and boo the authority figures. It was a plan that worked well with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. He was the type of blue collar, beer drinking American that people wanted to embrace. It alsoworked with Daniel Bryan because he was a hard working guy who toiled on the independent scene for many years and many of the Authority's criticism's of him, like him not being an "A+ player", were things that people felt the WWE legitimately believed. It gave people a reason to get behind him.
However, by this point people have figured out what the role of the Authority is and when they go on television and rail against Reigns in hopes that people will cheer for him, it doesn't work because fans already know what their game plan is and aren't going to cheer for a guy just because they're told to.
11 He's Been Booked Against Opponents Fans Like More
Part of the problem with the way Reigns has been booked is that he's been put in feuds with wrestlers that fans simply like better. His major feuds have come with Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar and Triple H – three of the most over guys in the business. When given the choice between cheering for Reigns or cheering for any of those three opponents, it's not difficult to see why fans will choose the latter option, regardless of storyline. They’d be much better served to book Reigns into a feud with another young star and allow the two to grow together.
10 He Hasn't Paid His Dues
Another factor that lends credence to the idea that Reigns has received preferential treatment is that he's relatively new to the wrestling business. He only began wrestling when he was signed to a WWE developmental contract in July of 2010. Reigns hasn't struggled for years on the independent circuit, wrestling in front of small crowds for very little money. He hasn't had to go through multiple, awful gimmicks changes. He hasn't really been held back for any reason. That isn't his fault of course, it's more a credit to him that he's been able to rise to the top so quickly, but fans are often more eager to embrace wrestlers who have "paid their dues" and earned their way to the top.
9 His Mic Skills Are Lacking
When Roman Reigns was a member of the Shield, he didn't do a lot of talking. He didn't really need to. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins performed well enough on the microphone that Reigns could just be the big, dominant force who rarely spoke. However, since going solo the WWE has tried to put a microphone in his hands and it hasn't worked. It's largely a product of inexperience, but his promos are often not entertaining and long winded, to the point that he's been hounded with chants of "boring". His microphone skills could improve with time, but he might be better served speaking as little as possible for fans to enjoy him.
8 He Has A Limited Move Set
Likely another product of his inexperience, Reigns still leaves a lot to be desired inside of the ring. He sports an arsenal of high impact, match altering moves, but he lacks the type of smaller, transitional moves that are integral to putting on long, entertaining matches that tell a great story. You can get by with a small repertoire of moves if you're booked as a dominant force who wins every match easily - see Bill Goldberg - but to put on the best matches, you need a more developed list of moves. That could come with time, but until Reigns becomes a more well rounded wrestler, he'll continue to receive similar criticism to John Cena and his "five moves of doom".
7 He Lacks An Exciting Character
When he was a member of the Shield, Roman Reigns was the big dominant force who barely spoke, but since embarking on his singles career, the WWE has tried to make tweaks to his character, while also keeping the same attire and entrance from his days in the Shield. They've tried to make him into the superhero type character, similar to John Cena, but it doesn't really seem to jive with his personality. He doesn't seem to have a personality that fits with being a babyface at all and he'd have a much better chance of getting over if he were a dominant heel who rarely spoke.
6 He's Perceived As A "Yes-Man"
Wrestling fans love rebels. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin rebelled against authority, so did CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. They marched to the beat of their own drum and weren't afraid stand up for themselves and fans adored them for it. Part of what makes Brock Lesnar such a big star is that he's an arrogant beast who will do whatever he wants regardless of what anyone thinks. Roman Reigns hasn't shown a rebellious side and is instead perceived as a "Yes-man", a guy who will tow the company line, do whatever is asked of him, and not ruffle any feathers. This doesn't sit well with fans who think the WWE needs to change and are desperate to see someone take a stand to shake up the business.
5 He's Been Shoved Down Fans' Throats
If Roman Reigns is ever going to get over, it's going to have to happen naturally and it's going to take some time. Instead of allowing that to happen, the WWE keeps trying to force things. They continue to put Reigns in the title picture and push him as the company's top babyface regardless of how much resistance they face from the crowd. Fans don't like being told who to cheer for and trying to force them to cheer for a guy they don't like only further proves the idea that the WWE doesn't care what fans want and gives them even more reason to boo Reigns.
The primary reason why fans watch wrestling is for entertainment and part of what makes it entertaining is knowing that anything can happen. Once you've become predictable, you start to lose people's interest. One of the major reasons why fans have come to dislike John Cena is because they know that every feud will inevitably end with him coming out on top. It's hard to be entertained when you can see the ending a million miles away. Roman Reigns appears to be headed down a similar path of predictability and fans hate it. That's the primary reason why a Triple H vs. Roman Reigns match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania has never been a good idea.
At this point in his career, Triple H is obviously a temporary champion and there's no realistic expectation that he could walk out of WrestleMania with the belt.
3 Fans Don't Want Another John Cena
As you've probably noticed there are many parallels between Roman Reigns and John Cena. The limited move set, the predictability, being a "Yes-man" and having him forced down their throats are all negative criticisms people often have of Cena. He's been the face of the WWE for nearly a decade, but he's equally hated by most hardcore wrestling fans as he is adored by young fans. With Reigns headed down a similar path, it shows that nothing has changed and that the WWE cares less about what fans actually want and more about who will sell the most merchandise and provide them with the best public image.
2 He's Been Billed As An Underdog
In an effort to build Roman Reigns up as a superhero type character, the WWE has used the Authority to try to push him as an underdog, a guy who is able to overcome any and all imaginary obstacles that have been put in his way. However, Reigns as an underdog is simply not believable. He isn't a small guy that no one would expect to win a fight. He hasn't had to persevere through a long, unexpected rise to the top. He's a large beast who was in the main event of WrestleMania within five years of entering the business. Wrestling gimmicks work best when they closely match the superstar's real life persona and no one in real life is going to buy Roman Reigns as an underdog in any fight.
1 He's Just Not Ready
At the end of the day, many of the factors against Reigns are a simply a product of his inexperience. For most big name superstars, it takes time for them to find their role. Before there was the Heartbreak Kid, there was the Rockers, before there was "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, there was The Ringmaster, and before there was The Rock, there was Rocky Maivia. By the time he is ready to be the face of the company, it's likely that Roman Reigns will be an edgier character, with a a more well rounded move set and better microphone skills – or no need to use the microphone at all. It's going to take some time for him to find his niche and until he does, he''ll likely have a hard time getting over.