LOP Grand Prix - Who Wants Seconds?
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?
Couldn't agree more. The only thing I disagree with you on is that I don't care for Reigns. Does he have upside? Yes. Does he look the part? Yes. Does he have the bloodlines? Yes. Beyond that though all I see is a guy who keeps getting overhyped despite the fact that he can hardly talk and has never had an impressive one on one showing aside from a match with Daniel Bryan (who could carry anyone to a great match really) in the fall of last year. I said in the RAW thread last night that I wouldn't be surprised in a few years if Reigns ends up along the lines of Cena (although the Ryback comparison works too) as someone WWE wants us to cheer, while Dean Ambrose (the far more interesting of the two) is the one who gets the cheers. My guess is if WWE continues down the path with Reigns they are now (and they will), that's what we'll get. For his sake I hope I'm wrong, and maybe he'll surprise me. But I honestly don't see it with him yet; at least Ryback was interesting by himself. Roman Reigns, at least to me, has never been interesting by himself.
I said last night it was good to have you back Bravo. After reading this column, I feel even more strongly about it. Strong effort dude.
I rather WWE continue to "push" Reigns by merely association of his beef with the Authority and Triple H. Other than inserting himself back into the Rollins/Ambrose affair, there is nothing much left to do for the big guy, except to fight against Triple H. This past Raw demonstrates that.
You are right to say character is better than competition. But the character must be a right fit. When Ryback got tied to a chicken shit heel, the result was a bad character fit. Is WWE going the same route with Reigns? Maybe. But Reigns is on a slower burn than Ryback. Ryback's Hell in a Cell match with Punk was by necessity. They turned Ryback heel to feed to Cena, and I don’t see that happening with Reigns too.
I enjoyed the column. Very polished, and I can see why Maverick is happy to see you back.
And Jacob wrestled with God.
You mentioned my new favorite tag team! That alone makes this great. I am starting to really fall for NXT. Like more so than WWE. Some awesome things going on down there. Not to mention you tackled an age old debate. I think its closer to a balance, although the extremes work well also. As time rolls on though it is starting to seem like character was taking a backseat until recently. NXT is really completely reinvigorating WWE.
To me I just cant get into Reigns. Maybe it is just that he hasnt found a true gimmick that highlights his abilities out of the ring. Or maybe he just wont ever translate to me. Im not sure yet. I do think the fans who push for him so much now will get sick of him and it will be b3cause his character doesnt have enough dimensions.
Welcome back mate.
(For anyone who doesn't remember Sierra, he debuted in the NXT2 tourney that also featured the likes of myself, Danno, Oli, LWO and Skul, an incredible competition eventually won by Freeman. Sierra had a great showing so it is certainly awesome he's back.)
Obviously you argued this well my man, but I disagree on there being any kind of comparison between Ryback and Reigns. However much WWE is behind Roman, he got himself over through his work and the impact he made in his enforcer role in The Shield for a an entire 18 months. Dude deserves his push. Ryback got the squash jobbers treatment and was then suddenly hotshotted into a title match with Punk he had no business being in. It's a completely different scenario.
What I also struggle with is people assuming it's a straight choice between Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose. All three of those guys are destined for the main event. They just are. But Ambrose and Rollins- who I do prefer for the record, I am just about the biggest Ambrose mark out there- are in their Rock/Triple H "make each other stars" phase right now. That is right and proper for the kind of wrestlers they are. Reigns needs to break out now while he's hot.
Now, have WWE provided a solo character for Reigns yet? Only to an extent. It's kind of Big Daddy Cool circa 95. Can it stand to have some development? Hell yeah. It will hopefully happen over the next few months. Be patient, people. To address Cult's point, I've said before, you do not need to worry about Dean Ambrose. That guy is a star and his reactions are proof of that. He IS getting a push. Just a different type of push. I don't think anyone needs to be running down Reigns and saying he isn't getting reactions- because he is. That's a really silly thing to say. Listen to the crowd on Raw when Reigns stares down Hunter.
Ultimately, it isn't a competition between the former shield members. I have been convinced of this from the day that debuted. All three are the future of the company, but their ascents will look different.
I'm with Mav in that I disagree with the brunt of the Reigns = Ryback argument, although I do have a fear that they're moving too far, too fast with him at the moment. I mean, his presence in the Fatal Four Way doesn't even make sense, he drugged Stephanie previously so why would The Authority put him in that match? Seems weird to me. That said, The Shield were main eventing PPVs and proving themselves as draws before the split, so I suppose there's the argument that Reigns should be positioned high up the card (along with his former brothers in arms).
I don't know, I had a lot to say but then watched that Enzo/Cass gif for, like, five minutes and forgot it all. Damn good to read your stuff again, man, and you've not missed a step.
This was a thoughtful, and insightful column. I completely disagree with the premise, but in some ways, isn't that perfect? Your column is creating discussion and interest. That's a good thing.
To me, Reigns and Ryback have little in common. The characters, and development are totally dissimilar. Both are wrecking balls, and that's where the comparison ends for me. I think the real question is should they be similar? Had Ryback been thrust into that role with The Shield, rather than being destroyed by them and turned heel for Cena, would he be a major star right now? For me, Ryback is better on a microphone than Reigns, he has the ability to get a crowd upset, and before that when he had the general masses in the palm of his hand simply by uttering the words "feed me more". The buildup and look were of course "Goldbergesque", but it was absolutely working.
I get that he had no business being in a match with Punk for the title, and I also understand that WWE booked themselves into a corner by doing it. But let's also be realistic, the prevailing logic in most casual fans minds was "how is Punk going to beat a guy who can't be beaten?" That means they viewed Ryback as unstoppable, which was exactly the goal. The WWE had built him into a star, on the cusp of becoming a superstar. He retained the air of invincibility (with the masses) even in his loss to Punk because of the interference. By adding this new faction the WWE took the attention off the end of the streak, and put it on "who are these newcomers"? Then, the WWE completely changed course, and turned him heel. That might have even worked had they not taken the Hogan approach and just fed him to Cena. He never had a chance to establish his heel character before confronting Cena. Instead, he was turned, and delivered to Cena on a platter. Those losses rendered him no longer invincible, which was the biggest part of the character. Moreover, it was done in the infancy of his alignment change which meant as a heel, after Cena he was no longer credible.
I believe that Ryback as a face had legs, and could have been an upper card talent. He wasn't my cup of tea, but smarks like me aren't the target audience. The throngs of people chanting "feed me more" are the audience. That's why I believe that the WWE dropped the ball on Ryback and he should have been a star. Reigns will be a star, and Ryback could have been had WWE not dropped the ball.
I agree that character is extremely important, but there's also a reason that the "strong silent type" exists. They have an innate charisma without the defined character, and that, as much as the bulldozing is what draws fans in.
Great work on the column, and you've stirred quite a debate. Well done.
The Underage Pessimist
I get where you're coming from with this, but I can't say that I really agree on the comparison.
Reigns spent a considerate amount of time building his credibility before going at it alone. The Shield has, and will continue to, help his rise immensely. He's definitely better than Ryback at any department, but WWE does really need to ''reign'' it in a bit. Overpushing him will only lead to his downfall, though they could have taken the chance now, but I digress.
Reigns has a work ethic to himself that'd help him too, and he has the momentum that Ryback had, that WWE promptly tossed into the garbage bin. I don't like them both, but Reigns deserves a fair chance. Now might be as good a time to do it.
Great column, though, and it's good to see you back!
Nice column! I can see some parallels but overall reigns looks like he has a much bigger upside than ryback overall. He's got natural charisma and at the moment he is being protected enough to stay over while really polishing himself.
Whilst some may say it is too soon for him, who better to learn off than those at the top of the card already like orton and Cena? Working with Cena did Wyatt no end of good, and Bryan's feud with orton showed that he can be a legitimate main eventer.
With reigns they are striking while the iron is hot to align him with the top wrestlers in the company and learn alongside the elite.
King of Stats
Topic: You took an interesting path here but it seemed to work. Competition was definitely part of your column so I have no real qualms here.
Stip: easily one of the better uses of the word limit in this tournament so far. Well done.
My opinion: I never even thought of it this way at all. While I am happy he is getting a push I always felt that Ambrose should have been pushed first since he was the one to have a character as well as skill whereas Reigns was just mere emotionless muscle. It never occurred to me though to compare him to Ryback but it makes perfect sense in the long run.
I'm not a fan by any stretch of the imagination but I can't help but feel a tiny bit sorry for Roman Reigns. They've spent the last two-ish years protecting him, then the Shield splits, and no one really knows what the Roman Reigns character is. One week he's the silent duck-faced bad ass, the next week he's flirting with Vickie Guerrero while spiking Stephanie McMahon drink. Then back to no nonsense again. It's almost like they got so wrapped up in the fact that he has "it" that they didn't really flesh him out. They forgot that "it" doesn't wrestle matches, nor does "it" cut promos. "It" by itself is a little bit dull. Having said that, I can't help but think he's going to be all right. Despite having split from The Shield he's still predominantly wrestling in multi-man matches on television whilst they continue to iron his act out, and he is ridiculously pretty. Maybe they learnt from Ryback?
I really enjoyed this.
Echoing Mav's sentiment; you impressed tremendously by showing up as a new LOPer at the beginning of NXT2, a loaded tourny, and finishing near the top - and it's fantastic to see you back in another competition. I'm betting that you'll do very well once again.
King of the Columnists
Disclaimer: For each of the LOP Grand Prix entries, I will offer very little constructive criticism for this round. I do not want anyone to feel disheartened, believing that they may not have done enough to seed highly or to even qualify. Enjoy some kind words.
I see what the return hype is about. This was brilliant.
I somewhat agree about the Reigns/Ryback comparisons. To me though, it's more about the obvious connection of Reigns and Cena. It seems that the WWE do not know when to stop with a top face. He is getting the Cena "Marine" push when suddenly, the popular gimmick has been stripped away. Roman Reigns was all about fighting injustice, now that element has gone as the real injustice is what's happening to his former partner Dean Ambrose. He seemed to understand that for the first time on Smackdown this week. But his own Battleground main event came first. I think that it wasn't curiosity that killed the cat but that it was competition instead.
I'm glad that you highlighted why NXT works. It is a landscape where gimmicks run wild. A male model, an eco-warrior, NXT is a gimmick wonderland. That's why many of the call-ups haven't worked as the WWE main brands themselves are mostly competitive-based.
You've really got my mind ticking away. You certainly know how to create discussion and inspire. You'll go far.
I'm upset that I missed you the first time round, but I'm glad that I'm reading you now. Brilliant, Bravo.
Good to see you back, mate. I struggled with this to be honest. I'm not really one for reading things twice but I had to go back here. I felt you jumped around a lot to make your point. I am not totally convinced by your overall point and definitely not convinced by some of the things you touched on along the way. I can definitely see some similarities between Reigns and Ryback but your long term worry is a stretch. The Big Guy essentially had his balls cut off by booking. He was big time over a generic guy that just beat people up. The problem was that when he got to a PPV, he lost, time and time again. Bizarrely the fans were still behind him for a good portion of that but when it all ended with the most head scratching of heel turns, he was done. Yet he twitches his shoulder and you still hear the distant echoes of "feed me more". It was a huge botch with The Big Guy and I have no idea to this day, why they pushed him so hard just to let him fall. But I don't see any reason why there's any reason to worry the same thing will happen to Reigns. With Ryback a lot of what got over is the gimmick and the catchphrase. If coupled with the right booking, you don't need much more to be a big short term success. I'm convinced that Reigns has much more than that. All you need is a quick look at their time spent in developmental. You can tell he has that natural charisma just from a quick glance imo. His character will mot likely shine through with that. He's not reliant on a catchphrase and his moveset pops more. Can bad decisions fuck him up? Of course, but top talents can come back and get over that rather than just fading away. I'd argue having the ability to do that is what will make you a top talent. Very few nail it on their first shot out the gate. I'm actually with Leaf on the fact that I think that smarks getting tired of Reigns like Cena down the line is a more likely problem (and a problem that problem isn't seen as a problem to the company whilst the merch flies off the shelf). Anyway, your writing was top notch, even if I felt this was a little disjointed as an overall piece. Good luck going forward.
Is Your Superior
I didn't read this as a column, merely for the content. Which I loved. I liked the examples and comparisons you brought up. Xanman and I were comparing him more to Batista, but that's more if everything pans out. The positive look at it is that he's the next Batista. The downside is that he's the next Ryback. I'm leaning towards Ryback too, because they are putting their eggs too soon into this basket.
Feed me more content like this.
I will be linking to this column in tonight Live Raw Blog.