Roman Reigns is one of the most polarizing individuals in the annals of professional wrestling. The 32-year-old Reigns, a member of the Anoaʻi family, was a standout defensive tackle for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football program who earned first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in 2006. Although left unselected in the 2007 NFL Draft, the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Reigns briefly competed on the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars practice squads later that spring. Reigns was released by both organizations and subsequently ventured north of the border to play for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. Nearly two years after getting cut by the Eskimos, Reigns signed a developmental deal with WWE in July 2010. Reigns honed his sports entertainment abilities before debuting on WWE’s main roster as a member of The Shield at Survivor Series in November 2012.
Once The Shield disbanded in June 2014, McMahon’s suits became determined to book Reigns as a featured attraction. The WWE Universe rejected Reigns’ forced character and jeered the wannabe babyface’s every action. Reigns is a tremendous athlete and his sculpted physique exemplifies what McMahon seeks in a superstar. However, a WWE superstar also needs charisma and the ability to cut a memorable promo. Unfortunately for McMahon, The Big Dog is subpar on the microphone and he’s unable to connect with fans in any aspect.
There are many former WWE heels and heroic personalities who Reigns could learn from. In fact, while not on a long-term basis, these 15 wrestlers over the age of 50 could still outdo Reigns on a given evening in the squared circle. While we're not implying these guys are necessarily better wrestlers than Reigns, nor are they at the level of athleticism, their know-how in the industry and their ability to connect with the crowd is something that would give them what Roman Reigns is lacking.
15 KEVIN NASH
Kevin Nash is a shopworn retiree who was never a solid in-ring performer. Still, the 57-year-old Nash was an indelible wrestling figure who energized crowds with his cocksure presence. The 6-foot-11, 330-pound Nash, a 2015 WWE Hall of Fame inductee, won championships with the WWF, WCW and TNA. Already brimming with accolades, Nash became a legend as a founding member of the New World Order. Alongside “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan and Scott Hall, Nash’s brash style helped make the NWO wrestling’s most iconic stable. Nicknamed “Big Sexy,” the European professional basketball player from yesteryear is now a plodding man with a slight gait.
While a match pitting Nash against Reigns would be difficult to watch, the Detroit native’s entrance and showmanship would compensate for sloppiness and outshine anything “The Big Dog” did.
Rikishi and Roman Reigns are cousins. The 51-year-old Rikishi, a WWE Hall of Famer, earned the Intercontinental title and a couple of tag team championships in Vince McMahon’s soap opera. The 6-foot-1, 425-pound Rikishi is a gifted entertainer who became beloved for his dance moves in the squared circle. Rikishi premiered as a professional wrestler in 1985 and he still sporadically works on the independent circuit. Hence, considering the massive American Samoa remains somewhat active, Rikishi wouldn’t be overly rusty and he’d ably maneuver around the ring against Reigns.
Most importantly, if properly scripted, Rikishi would leave a battered Reigns struggling to regain his footing in the ringside corner. Before managing to stand upright, Rikishi would hit Reigns with his notorious “Stink Face” and the audience would absolutely erupt in cheers.
13 RON SIMMONS
Ron Simmons is a legendary badass. The 59-year-old Simmons was an All-American defensive tackle for Florida State University. A College Football Hall of Famer, the 6-foot-2, 270-pound Simmons was taken by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round of the 1981 NFL Draft. Although Simmons never got on the gridiron for the Browns, he played professionally for the CFL’s Ottawa Rough Riders in 1981 and then the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL from 1983 to 1985
. The WWE Hall of Famer developed to change careers and he debuted as a grappler in 1986. Simmons matured into an industry great and performed for WCW, ECW and the WWE before shelving his boots in 2010. Creaky and gray, it’s hard to envision that Simmons could currently outshine Reigns. Nevertheless, for a single night, Simmons still possesses the necessary forcefulness to embarrass Reigns.
Kane, born Glenn Thomas Jacobs in Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain, became a professional wrestler in 1992. The 50-year-old Kane, a surefire future hall of famer, fought for multiple companies under different names before gaining steady employment with Vince McMahon’s promotion in February 1995. Now a 22-year WWE veteran, the 7-foot, 325-pound Kane became a dominant monster in the squared circle. However, Jacobs’ dominance didn’t begin until WWE suits thoroughly rewrote his character in October 1997. McMahon’s creative team ingeniously reintroduced Jacobs as the The Undertaker’s long-lost brother, the diabolical Kane. Kane’s sinister gimmick has mainly endured over the past two decades and he’s still a formidable foe. If again presented as an unstoppable evildoer, Kane could absolutely regain relevancy and overshadow Reigns.
11 KEN SHAMROCK
Ken Shamrock was labeled “The World's Most Dangerous Man” for a reason. The 53-year-old Shamrock is a UFC Hall of Famer and trailblazer in the world of mixed martial arts. During the prime of his combat sports career, the 6-foot, 200-pound Shamrock used his incredible power, speed, agility and grappling abilities to defeat legends Bas Rutten and Dan Severn in the cage. Shamrock joined the WWF in February 1997 at the age of 33 and quickly captured the Intercontinental belt and won the 1998 King of the Ring.
The MMA phenomenon quit professional wrestling in late 2004. Despite a 13-year absence from the squared circle, Shamrock is a trained bruiser who could successfully resurface in the WWE. Provided that happened, Shamrock would effortlessly outclass Reigns in a wrestling ring.
DDP was already a late starter in wrestling, as his in-ring career began in his late 30s, already putting him at an age disadvantage under most of his peers. However Page worked hard and had Jake Roberts mentoring him, which gave Page the knowledge needed to sell his character, connect with the audience and put on a good match when need be. Page arguably gave Goldberg the greatest match of his career, which just shows you it takes more than technical skills to put on an entertaining match. Page is still in great shape and there's no doubt the crowd would be popping louder for DDP than they would for Reigns.
DDP has said he's officially retired from wrestling, but we'd sure love to see one more Diamond Cutter.
9 JOHN BRADSHAW LAYFIELD
John Bradshaw Layfield, a self-admitted bully who relishes harassing his colleagues, debuted as a professional wrestler in 1992 and retired nearly two decades later in 2009. Over that span of time, the 50-year-old Layfield amassed 24 belts as an individual and tag team competitor. The 6-foot-6, 297-pound Layfield is a heel commentator on SmackDown Live and he’s a vile soul off-screen. JBL could be the only WWE employee who fans would root against in a bout versus Reigns. Moreover, although never a chiseled bodybuilder, Layfield is a mammoth and rugged Texan who exited the sport with his health primarily intact. JBL could easily outwit “The Big Dog” on the microphone and physically contend with him in a scrap.
Sting is one of the most accomplished and decorated sports entertainers ever. The 58-year-old Sting is a WWE Hall of Famer who frequently carried WCW as its marquee attraction over 14 years with the now-defunct organization. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Sting finally appeared in a WWE ring during the main event of Survivor Series in November 2014. Nicknamed “The Franchise,” Sting was curiously booked to lose his only two matches in WWE. In the UCLA graduate’s final tussle at Night of Champions in September 2015, Sting sustained a legitimate neck injury in a losing effort versus the notoriously reckless Seth Rollins. Although technically retired, Sting admitted he’s unhappy with how his career concluded.
Even in his old age, Sting still managed to get the crowd behind him and we wish Sting would get one WWE match where he could pick up a win.
7 JAKE ‘THE SNAKE’ ROBERTS
Jake “The Snake” Roberts was shown as a downright broken human being in the 1999 documentary film “Beyond the Mat.” Largely thanks to the efforts of Diamond Dallas Page, the 61-year-old Roberts is now sober and he somehow closely resembles a 1990s version of himself. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Roberts was a darkly charismatic figure who expertly utilized mind games to make his opponents unravel. It’s not unreasonable to envision that Roberts’ grim diatribes and his famous python, Damien, could rattle Reigns.
While Roberts' days of wrestling are behind him, there's no doubt that his storytelling would keep the crowd far more entertained than what Reigns has been able to do the last few years.
6 THE UNDERTAKER
Roman Reigns primarily manhandled The Undertaker in their no-holds-barred fight at WrestleMania 33 in April. Following five spears, Reigns cleanly pinned the 52-year-old Deadman and apparently ended one of the most storied careers in wrestling history. Even though seemingly finished, the 6-foot-10, 310-pound Undertaker has not formally announced his retirement from the squared circle. If The Undertaker requested a rematch against Reigns, he could reasonably be booked to bury “The Big Dog” before officially shelving his boots. The Undertaker, a future first ballot hall of famer, is arguably the premier performer in the annals of sports entertainment.
It's so sad that 'Taker's last match had to be against a wrestler that the WWE Universe hasn't even embraced.
5 BOOKER T
Booker T is an authentic bruiser who was a brilliant performer for every promotion he worked for. The 52-year-old Booker T, a 2013 WWE Hall of Fame inductee, retired from the sport in July 2016. However, the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Booker T still serves as an announcer and panelist during pay-per-view events. “King Booker” is defying Father Time and he’s in spectacular physical condition. In fact, the native Texan publicly acknowledged that he might return to be a participant at the 2018 WWE Royal Rumble in Philadelphia. Booker T still has a better build and more magnetic personality than Reigns.
While writing will always be a crucial element to sports entertainment, Booker T can outperform Reigns both on the microphone and inside the squared circle.
4 SCOTT STEINER
Scott Steiner was a stellar amateur wrestler for the Michigan Wolverines. The 54-year-old Steiner, who began wrestling professionally in August 1986, is borderline psychotic and he’s abused enough performance-enhancing drugs to cripple American Pharoah. In spite of being a brazen doper, the 6-foot-1, 275-pound Steiner is a “Genetic Freak” with herculean strength. Unsurprisingly, “The Big Bad Booty Daddy” is still a prominent attraction for Impact Wrestling. Steiner, who can be a confusing and nonsensical rambler during promos, is mainly an engaging voice on the microphone. Furthermore, Steiner is physically more powerful than Reigns and his background as an elite Greco-Roman wrestler would shame “The Big Dog” in the squared circle. While Reigns is so bland, for all of Steiner's faults, at least he's interesting.
3 ‘STONE COLD’ STEVE AUSTIN
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin is universally lauded as one of the most profitable, influential and successful wrestlers of all time. The 52-year-old Austin was the face of the revolutionary Attitude Era and his character is synonymous with the rasslin business. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Austin first grappled in 1992 for World Class Championship Wrestling and was forced to retire in 2003 due to a serious neck injury that he suffered almost a decade earlier. The Texas Rattlesnake has conducted weekly podcasts on the WWE Network since April 2013. Granted, it’s tough to fully evaluate an individual who is sitting down on a chair. But from afar, Austin appears to be tremendously fit and pain-free. Austin would humiliate Reigns on the microphone and, provided he’s healthy, in the ring.
Bill Goldberg was the face of WCW during its “Monday Night War” with WWE in the late 1990s. The 50-year-old Goldberg, a former Atlanta Falcon who became a professional wrestler in June 1997, is a future hall of famer. Following nearly 12 years away from the ring, the 6-foot-4, 270-pound Goldberg returned to the WWE last Autumn and recorded a lopsided victory over Brock Lesnar at November’s Survivor Series. Considering that Reigns is not in Lesnar’s class as a grappler, there’s no question that Goldberg could overwhelm “The Big Dog.”
It’s evident that Vince McMahon wants Reigns to become the face of his company. Nonetheless, Reigns is a relatively unaccomplished grappler and Goldberg would still get cheers over Reigns in a match today. Just don't make it for the Universal Title, please.
1 SHAWN MICHAELS
Shawn Michaels is a WWE Hall of Famer who many analysts consider to be history’s preeminent in-ring competitor. The 51-year-old Michaels, a four-time titlist who won the Royal Rumble in 1995 and 1996, retired in March 2010. Still, speculation remains strong that the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Michaels would like a final scrap in Vince McMahon’s soap opera. “The Heartbreak Kid,” who lost to The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXV and WrestleMania XXVI, attempted to provide Reigns with advice about “The Dead Man” in March. Reigns refused Michaels’ counsel and proceeded to hand The Undertaker only his second loss at "The Grandest Stage of Them All.”
Michaels has said he's comfortable in retirement and has no interest in wrestling again, but if he did, there's no doubt he'd still be a better wrestler than Reigns today.