The October 5 edition of Monday Night Raw marked WWE’s official kickoff to its month long partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure in support of breast cancer awareness. There was a segment within that show where the entire roster stood atop the ramp adorned in pink attire, while Roman Reigns and John Cena made a presentation inside the ring with actual breast cancer survivors.
While it made for good television, the move was further evidence that the company is still intent on making Reigns into their next top babyface. It was also indicative that they are attempting to mold him into a mirror image of Cena.
Cena is the most charismatic WWE superstar of the current era and the most recognizable name in all of wrestling on a worldwide basis. He is also the company’s go to guy for their charitable endeavors, specifically with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. While pushing Reigns in this vein is understandable, I believe that NXT Women’s Champion Bayley would be a more suitable replacement as the company’s goodwill ambassador being she has a genuine appeal to children that is perhaps only rivaled by Cena.
However, this is not the only area where Reigns falls short in comparison to Cena.
Reigns does not possess Cena’s promo abilities and charisma, nor is he as good of a worker inside the ring.
But none of this matters as Vince McMahon is determined to transform Reigns into the next Cena. The only problem is that directly copying another successful act rarely works in wrestling.
History shows that every major star who carried WWE for a significant period of time have been different from each other. Steve Austin was promoted in an entirely different manner than Hulk Hogan. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was nothing like Austin. And Cena is perhaps more unique than any top guy to come before him. Despite their best intentions, transforming Reigns into a carbon copy of Cena is a guaranteed method for failure.
A bigger problem at hand is that the current WWE environment makes it nearly impossible to create another breakout superstar like they have done in years past. I’ll go as far as to say that there has never been another era in WWE history where it’s been as difficult for someone to truly break through to the upper echelon.
Every aspect of a wrestler’s development is so micromanaged that they have sucked the creativity out of nearly everyone on the roster. Potential top guys are continuously beaten to the point where no one takes them seriously. The overexposure of television programming causes us to see the same matches repeatedly. Even more damaging, the guys who are very capable talkers are given scripts to recite that bear little resemblance to the characters they portray inside the ring.
The promo aspect has really hurt Reigns. This was most apparent during a brief, disastrous period earlier this year when McMahon personally took over the scripting duties of Reigns’ interviews. The same man who verbally sparred with Austin at last year’s 2K’15 panel was put into a position where he recited fairytales to Big Show and told Seth Rollins that he was full of “suffering succotash.”
While Cena can get away with doing these kinds of promos at times, they do not fit Reigns’ image at all.
Reigns’ best work on the microphone comes when he is direct and to the point, without a lot of humor. I have no doubt that Reigns could be one of the more effective talkers on the roster if he was allowed to say what is on his mind. He has proven this on a few occasions such as when he confronted Lesnar in a sit down interview the night following this year’s Royal Rumble, and when he cut an unusually good promo on the September 14 Raw building up his match against the Wyatt Family at Night of Champions.
At the young age of 30, Reigns has achieved a remarkable amount of success. He was part of one of the hottest stables ever assembled in WWE as a member of The Shield. He was voted the 2014 Superstar of the Year, won the 2015 Royal Rumble and headlined WWE WrestleMania 31. Impressive credentials indeed.
Not only will he be WWE World Heavyweight Champion at some point in the near future, but I believe he has the potential to lead the company for the next several years. But he will never reach his full potential until he is allowed to be himself.