Brace yourself pro-wrestling fans: Roman Reigns is about to be shoved down our throats for the next decade. That’s not an exaggeration. It’s happening right before our very eyes, more and more each week. The personality Reigns had with The Shield is gone and in its place is a carbon copy of John Felix Anthony Cena. Just like Hulk Hogan before him, Cena became the next superstar shoved down our throats and Roman Reigns is leading up the rear to take over the, pardon the pun, reigns from Cena. Don’t believe that? Well, here’s a few glaring similarities between the two:
The Catchphrase — Let’s face it, everything John Cena does is to usher in a generation of super soldiers hell bent on humanity’s destruction. Okay, it’s not that extreme, but it does pretty much put the PG in the PG Era, in this instance “PG” standing for “pussy guys.” Cena’s big, bold statement is “Never Give Up.” It’s on his t-shrits. It’s on his hats. It’s on his wrist bands. It’s probably plastered on the back of Fruity Pebbles boxes. And recently Roman Reigns came out with a new t-shirt of his own. And what does it say? “I Can. And I Will.” It’s as if the WWE’s merchandising team tried to revise Cena’s slogan in a less aggressive way. Both are terrible. They reek of a badly drawn up Nike campaign. They might as well both come out holding hands and skip to the ring and shout, “All you have to do is BOlieve!” for three hours. Come to mention it, that might actually make a pretty good Raw compared to some of the crap we’ve gotten over the past few months.
The Look — If you haven’t noticed by now, Roman Reigns wears color contacts when he comes out to wrestle or cut promos. And why is this? Well, because he looks a little “too” unconventional. He’s a little too spicy for Vince’s taste. So they soften him up, make him look like a smoky drifter to all the ladies and a little more American to the marks. It’s like the lyrics from that Eminem song: ‘Look at these eyes / baby blue, baby / just like yourself / if they were brown/ shady lose /shady sits on a shelf.’ It’s a subtle move to make Reigns more appealing to a wider audiences. Go ahead, roll your eyes at all of this. You’re the exact type of person marketing companies LOVE. Reigns has the dark clothes and the bold tattoos. He has long, dark hair. The only way to dull his edges is changing the color of his eyes. If one thing is true about WWE, it’s that they want their top guy to “look” like a hero. And now Roman Reigns does. Granted, Cena doesn’t wear color changing contact lenses, but then again he doesn’t have to. He’s from Massachusetts, and what’s more American than that?
The Push — At WrestleMania 29, a very reluctant Rock dropped the WWE Championship to John Cena. What some called “the passing of the torch”, others called the “hey, wait, isn’t this the second once-in-a-lifetime match…?”. Fast forward to the 2015 Royal Rumble and what happens? The Rock comes out to basically put his stamp of approval on Roman Reigns as the go-to guy. Are you serious? When John Cena had his debut against Kurt Angle, he went backstage and got a push from The Undertaker. No, you didn’t read that wrong. WWE actually made Taker shake Cena’s hand (on live tv) and utter the phrase, “Nice job.” A few weeks ago on Smackdown, the WWE did something similar for Roman Reigns by having him ‘destroy’ Mark Henry who later in the evening said, “Roman Reigns made a believer out of me.” In fairness, Mark Henry is no Undertaker but the Deadman was probably busy having stem cell injections so that he can actually walk upright in his match with Bray Wyatt.
The Finisher — John Cena has the Attitude Adjustment. Roman Reigns has the Superman Punch. Both are different from each other, but the setup to either is pretty dumb and somewhat similar. The AA is usually preceded by the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena pantomimes “U Can’t C Me” and then drops a fist on his opponent. Roman Reigns cocks his fist while preparing for a Superman Punch and then…..drops a fist on his opponent. At least we can all be grateful that Reigns doesn’t have a terrible submission finisher. Yet.
Mic Work — John Cena is terrible on the mic. But at least he can speak fluently and make the 10-15 year olds laugh. Roman Reigns doesn’t even have that much going for him. He’s a dull, timid stutterer on the microphone. His promos are terrible. His public speaking is awful. And he seems completely incapable of captivating a crowd. But besides all of those dismal attributes, he is recycling the same thing Cena said to Lesnar last year. Literally, the same “I’m just going to kick your ass.” line that we heard before and after Super Cena took an ungodly amount of punishment at the hands of Brock “Superplex” Lesnar. Cena often uses lame nursery rhymes or third grade jokes/references in his promos. And it wasn’t too long ago that Reigns compared himself and Big Show as Jack and the Giant from the Jack and the Beanstock story. And they often say similar things on the mic. Case in point: recently John Cena said his match with Rusev is the most important WrestleMania match of his career, and that is absolutely the stupidest statement ever uttered. More important than The Rock? Anyway, Roman Reigns has called his match with Brock Lesnar the most important match of his career. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, huh? If WWE wants Reigns to be the next big star, he better grow in leaps and bounds on the microphone. You can’t have your top guy or champion cutting stale promos. It makes for a bad, bad sell.
We are still dealing with Hulk Hogan on a pretty regular basis. We will still be dealing with John Cena for at least another decade. Blame good genes, blame Vince McMahon’s raging boner for the guy, either way we are stuck with him in some capacity for the foreseeable future. If the plan is to strap a rocket on Roman Reigns, then WWE needs to give him his own voice. He needs to step out of the Cena shadow and become his own man. His identity shouldn’t be hitched to The Rock, or The Usos, or Rikishi. His gimmick shouldn’t steal ideas from John Cena. Just let him be his own thing. Lastly, don’t try and shove him down our throat because we will only hate him. More than half of live show crowds boo John Cena for a reason. If you want us to back Reigns, ease off the throttle and let him develop naturally. And lord help us if Reigns comes out with a red and yellow t-shirt.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker