Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?
I don't think I did, but someone probably has. We've all heard that inane quote a million times already. So I'll leave it to WWE to provide us all with a visual demonstration of it's definition.
Folks, meet Ryman Reigns. Erm, I mean...Roback. No, that's not it.
You get the idea. Because as far as I can see, Roman Reigns is just a carbon copy of the 2012/13 wrecking ball, Ryback.
Now firstly, to WWE's credit they began pushing these stars in good faith and at least partly because of how organically over they both became. Sure, circumstances and injuries to two major stars dictated that the push was required to fill an unmistakable void, and undeniably the two big men have that certain look which WWE love - but that doesn't change the fact that they both gained huge popularity with the crowd leading up to and during their pushes.
Both men had their own particular quirks. Cries of "Feed Me More" filled arenas all over the world, just like Roman Reigns' battle-cry is hollered in unison these days. The Superman Punch rivals the Meathook Clothesline and both behemoths had/have a general air of toughness about them.
But I'm afraid I've got some bad news...
Another similarity the two share is that during their respective rises to the top of the company, both were incredibly well-protected. Whether it was a high number of tag team matches with experienced opponents and partners, a variety of gimmicked matches involving cages and ladders and numerous opponents, Reigns and Ryback never faced a true singles challenge even though they were both in contention for the WWE Championship.
That being said, Ryback probably could have continued on his megastar babyface path and even captured the gold at some point regardless of his relative inexperience. And Reigns could very well do the same this year. But by the same token, the former Shield hoss could easily slump down the card quicker than a Daniel Bryan World Title run if lessons are not learned. And while Ryback's downfall may have been down to the aforementioned greenness and over-exposure - not to mention a chicken-shit heel turn - he at least had a decent half-gimmick of some sort of silent badass.
Many of you may say that Reigns has the same character now, but look at his babyface run.
This is someone who doesn't give a shit when his 'brother' stabs him in the back. Doesn't bat an eye when his teammate and friend is still screwed on a regular basis by said brother and his new cronies.
WWE has some amazing characters up and down the roster, from the amazing Bray Wyatt to the inimitable Enzo Amore of NXT. Granted, the NXT crowd are a lively bunch and eat up anything which is slightly hammy, but Amore is proving to be the most over star down at Full Sail, with his outlandish, memorable catchphrases and comedic timing. And with a gimmick that would translate well on Raw or Smackdown, stars like Amore and Breeze are looking primed to go when called upon.
But they're making the same mistake with Reigns as they did in the end with The Big Guy, and that's believing that the fans will get behind and STAY behind someone who's only character traits are to destroy the competition.
Through the history of WWE, it seems to me that the fans view the idea of 'competition' as secondary to a good character or gimmick. Look at Wyatt, a man who is incredibly over and will remain so despite probably not even sniffing the WWE World Title until next summer. Because he knows his character, he knows what he stands for and the fans go nuts. Or Daniel Bryan, the people's underdog. Newly-beloved patriot Jack Swagger, wronged lunatic Dean Ambrose, the Inspirational Bo Dallas...the list goes on and in my book, it's a list which excludes the name of Roman Reigns.
Let's delve into Wyatt's old stomping ground NXT where the Vaudevillains prance around like Charlie Chaplin. Showing character. Amore and Big Cass talk their way in and out of problems, showing their charisma. Tyler Breeze focuses on taking selfies and grooming his hair to wonderful crowd reactions. With charisma.
In the end, Ryback fell dramatically down the ladder, becoming a characterless goof who merely marched to the ring and fought his opponents without any personal issues whatsoever. On the odd occasion he did have beef with stars like The Shield, his lack of promo time about the issue ended up devaluing the feud on a 'personal rivalry' level. Rollins vs Ambrose at the moment is a perfect example of a heated rivalry which the WWE Universe are well into, and no matter how in demand the Samoan is at the moment (and he certainly is), there's only so much meatheaded destroying he can carry out before something with some substance is required.
Look at Sheamus. A stereotypical 'fighting Irishman' who has few personal woes and simply competes. Or Cesaro (at the moment at least). These guys struggle for crowd interest based mainly on the fact that their character falls into a mere second place behind the logic that they merely walk through the curtain, compete and destroy.
Things at least look promising at the moment with Reigns staring down The Boss and the crowd eating it up, but the warning signs are there. I don't dislike Reigns, and I'd hate WWE to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but heed those signs.
Character outweighs competition.
Otherwise Reigns could go the way of his muscle-bound counterpart. And for two very popular guys, that's, well...do I have to spell it out for you?