In his latest piece for PWP Nation, Eron Ramadanov examines the feud between John Cena and Roman Reigns, and begs the question: has Roman Reigns been exposed?
In the professional wrestling business, there are only a handful of performers that can claim the role of “the guy.” When combing through the history books, you only stumble across a select few that have the ability to captivate an era and define a generation. And those guys don’t get that title easily. It’s earned. And as wrestling fans, we know when it doesn’t feel right.
The person who assumes the part of the top guy can be pushed by the fans or the company to that spot, but it also has to come with some authenticity and realism. When their music hits, the fans in the building and watching at home have to believe that they are witnessing greatness and feasting their eyes on the company’s crown jewel.
But every so often, there comes a time when two generations cross and it makes for pure gold. That’s what we have with John Cena and Roman Reigns.
For over a decade, John Cena, whether we like it or not, has been that guy. Since the mid-2000s, John Cena has been the standard bearer for WWE, selling merchandise, putting asses in seats and generating record-breaking revenue. But as the Championship wins and big matches fade into history, John Cena has assumed a new role for WWE: the litmus test. And there is no doubt in my mind that John Cena has become Roman Reigns’ litmus test.
From the very beginning, I’ve been looking forward to a John Cena vs. Roman Reigns feud and now that it’s here, it’s better than I imagined it would be. I don’t think enough fans are realizing that we are witnessing two top guys from two separate eras. Even though Reigns isn’t on the level of a Hulk Hogan or Stone Cold Steve Austin, Reigns has assumed the role of those past superstars and we have to take him seriously until he is no longer in that role.
Roman Reigns has been groomed to replace John Cena and you better believe that John Cena knows that. In several interactions throughout this feud, John Cena has verbally challenged Roman Reigns and each time, Roman Reigns comes up short. If you’ve been watching the interactions between Reigns and Cena, you’ll know that Cena has not only gotten the upper hand, but has gone for the jugular.
But the leading question being asked is has Roman Reigns been exposed?
Now, several fans will tell you that they knew long before his interaction with Cena that Reigns has no business being referred to as the top guy of the company or being in the position he’s in. Although that may be true, he IS in that position and he’s expected to perform at the highest possible level, and that’s something he just hasn’t done against Cena.
Don’t get me wrong, Reigns, to me, has proven that his in-ring work can meet the expectations of being a “top guy” and I am of the belief that Reigns is one of WWE’s best overall in-ring workers, but when it comes to working on the microphone, Roman Reigns has fallen way short of his mark against John Cena.
Now, I’m not saying that Reigns should be roasting Cena, the same way Cena is doing to Reigns, but I have yet to see Reigns raise his microphone game to the next level against Cena. There’s just something missing from Reigns in all of their interactions. I’m not one to infer, but it seems very clear that the moment has become too big for Roman Reigns. I have no doubts that John Cena and Roman Reigns will have a very good match at WWE No Mercy, but from a build-up standpoint, Reigns has not delivered his end of the deal.
There’s no question that John Cena is a great microphone worker and has a certain level of humor that Reigns simply doesn’t, but where’s the intensity from Reigns? Have you had an “oh, shit” moment from Reigns during this feud? No. Have we stepped away from a segment between the two and said, “Wow, Reigns really delivered there?” No.
If Roman Reigns truly wants to claim WWE as “his yard,” he’ll have to sell me a little harder on his effort in this feud. I’m not one to question someone’s motivations, but it just seems like Reigns is of the belief that he’s already done the work. That he has somehow already earned the ability to go through the motions on the microphone. Now, obviously I’m not a part of WWE creative and I don’t know how exactly these segments are being booked, but from what I have seen on WWE television, John Cena has indeed exposed Roman Reigns on the microphone and as WWE’s replacement of him.
Now, we all know how the match will go. The two will go to war for 18-25 minutes, where Reigns will come out on top, which will lead to John Cena raising Reigns’ hand and “passing the torch.” Although that sounds all good and dandy, it doesn’t work when the torch is being passed to someone who doesn’t really seem to take that title as seriously as he should be.
Roman Reigns will have years to grow and get better, but the time has come for him to dedicate himself to this feud and pull out all of the stops. Go the extra mile. Make the second, third effort. Be prepared and go after John Cena. In their interactions, it’s clear that WWE has allowed them to go out there and “shoot.” Well, shoot Roman! As John Cena said in his promo on Raw this past week, “Show me something, Roman!”
Yes, Roman… show us something.