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Top 5: Worst Roman Reigns Booking Decisions

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Another year, another WrestleMania failure for the Big Dog. We’ve seen Roman Reigns in the last four WrestleMania main events. He’s 2-2, and the two wins didn’t exactly set the world on fire.

Sunday seemed tailor-made to be Roman’s day. He’d spent the last month getting beat up by Brock Lesnar. The Beast’s contract status was unknown, but everybody thought it was a moot point. WWE had built to this moment for four years, apparently. Brock Lesnar had become an unstoppable monster so Roman Reigns would stop him & fully take his seat on top of the WWE mountain. It seemed pretty obvious. Until it didn’t happen.

A couple lines of thought have emerged in the days after. One is that Brock will drop the title to Roman in Saudi Arabia at the Greatest Royal Rumble Ever. The other is that Brock will hang on to the title long enough to pass CM Punk’s 434 days as WWE Champion. It’s kind of silly, but makes sense if you look at things from WWE’s logic.

Neither does much to help Roman Reigns. But if we’re being honest, it’s nothing new. Reigns has his flaws, but he also has a lot of positives. As much as WWE wants him to be The Guy, they seem to be the main thing getting in the way. One of the main things Jeremy Lambert & I have noticed on our Arc of Wrestling podcast is WWE’s inability to close the deal with Reigns, even when it’s right there.

Here are the Top 5 Worst Roman Reigns Booking Decisions.

5. WrestleMania 33: Good Idea, Bad Timing

If one good thing came from Reigns’ match with the Undertaker, it’s that WWE figured out that the Dead Man can’t be working over twenty minutes anymore. His performance here against Reigns actively kept the Big Dog from getting the rub he was supposed to get out of it. Hindsight being 20/20, they probably should have had Reigns squash him in five minutes.

Yes, it would have gotten a bad reaction. But it got a bad reaction anyway, so it’s not like they could have made it much worse.

4. Royal Rumble 2015: Even The Rock Can’t Save This

One year prior, Roman Reigns had never been more over. One of the side effects of Daniel Bryan being left out of the Royal Rumble & Batista being the obvious winner of the match was the fans getting behind Reigns towards the end of the match. He had eliminated a ton of guys & looked good during the match, so the crowd had no problem getting behind him in hopes that there would be a surprise winner.

By the time 2015 rolled around, Roman Reigns was anything but a surprise winner. The fans still wanted Daniel Bryan, who was actually in the match this time. His elimination early on led to everybody getting booed, especially Reigns. Even the Rock couldn’t turn the fans when he came down to rescue Reigns from a Kane & Big Show beatdown.

Reigns was the victim of circumstance here, but it could easily have been avoided if WWE had any kind of an idea of what their audience wanted in that match. They forged ahead with the plan anyway, and it seemed like they were ready to crown Roman Reigns.

3. WrestleMania 31: Rollins Takes Reigns’ Moment

I’ll get in trouble for listing this one. Greg DeMarco & others often cite Seth Rollins’ Money in the Bank cash-in at the end of WrestleMania 31 as one of the all-time great WrestleMania Moments. Indeed, it was exciting & somewhat unexpected to most.

But what did it do for Roman Reigns? Nothing good. It was one of the first instances of WWE being afraid to fully pull the trigger on their golden boy. They pressed through the Royal Rumble. At FastLane they had Bryan put Reigns over. In the leadup to WrestleMania, you had Bryan & Paul Heyman both laying the Reigns praise on real thick. If you’re going to press against fan reaction to that degree, you might as well go through with the story & not half-ass it.

What Rollins’ win did above all else was further the perception that Roman Reigns couldn’t get it done when it really counted.

2. Survivor Series 2015: Sheamus 5:15

The first world championship victory should be a crowning achievement for a top guy. We still remember Hulk Hogan toppling the Iron Sheik in Madison Square Garden. The Austin Era began in Boston when Shawn Michaels’ career ended for the first time. Even though John Cena’s first title win went on before Batista’s at WrestleMania 21, he still got the rub from ending the then record-setting reign of John “Bradshaw” Layfield, who had pissed everybody off for months. People wanted to see him lose to anybody.

Roman Reigns’ first WWE Championship victory should have been along the lines of these memorable moments. He should have been the ever popular babyface getting the big win to shut up people the fans detested. Instead, he defeated the more popular Dean Ambrose in a tournament final and then decided to beat up Triple H during his victory celebration. Sheamus came in, cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase, and Roman’s first world title reign was over in 5:15.

People attempted to defend this by pointing out that Daniel Bryan’s first WWE Championship reign ended in similar fashion at SummerSlam 2013. (It wasn’t Bryan’s first world title reign, but that didn’t stop the comparisons.) The reaction to Bryan getting screwed was surely what WWE brass were hoping for here, but Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan are two entirely different animals. Bryan’s appeal lies in being the over-matched underdog that has to fight through endless adversity before rising up and overcoming it all. More importantly, he was perceived as somebody that Vince McMahon & the rest of the higher-ups didn’t want as champion, and the SummerSlam result & the results the months afterwards just made the story even more believable. He was considered an underdog on & off-screen.

Roman Reigns is the complete opposite. He’s at his strongest with the fans when he’s running over everybody in his path & nobody can do anything to stop him. He’s not good at getting sympathy. Nobody ever feels sorry for him. Cutting his title reign short here just gave him the vibe of being a choke artist. They made it even worse by having him cry afterwards. It didn’t make him more sympathetic, it made him a crybaby.

1. Royal Rumble 2016: Takes Half The Match Off, Still Loses

It was going to be One vs. All. Roman had eventually gotten the WWE Championship out of the hands of Sheamus, and Triple H was mad. He decided that Reigns was going to defend the championship in the Royal Rumble, and that the Big Dog was going to be the first entrant.

Sounds good, right? Roman had some pretty heavy odds to overcome. There were a number of ways it could go…

-Reigns could last the entire match & win
-The Big Dog could last the entire match & come up just short
-He could get screwed early on & have a reason for a rematch later.

They decided to combine 2 & 3. The illustrious League of Nations stable came out & attacked Reigns early in the match, beating him up & putting him through a table. Of course, they forgot to throw him over the top rope, which enabled Reigns to come back 30 minutes later, showing no real signs of distress. He didn’t even go off on a stretcher or anything like that. Reigns walked to the back after his beatdown, trying to portray a tough guy…that was walking off from a fight.

He didn’t even win! Triple H came back to active competition at #30 & overcame all odds to become a 14-time World Champion. The idea here was to have Triple H use his ultimate heeling abilities to put Roman over at WrestleMania. Roman went over, but the feud did nothing to help him & only resulted in more boos.

Defenders of Reigns’ timeout during the Rumble compare it to Stone Cold Steve Austin’s similar stint out of action during the 1999 Royal Rumble. Austin at least went off in an ambulance after taking a beatdown from Vince McMahon’s Corporation, and drove the ambulance back to the building. When he no-sold something, he did it in style. Reigns did the lazy man’s version of Austin’s comeback attempt.

Shocking that the lazy version of Stone Cold Steve Austin booking didn’t get over the same way.


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Is Shinsuke Nakamura Right Where He Belongs In WWE?

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Shinsuke Nakamura is one of the top stars working in the pro wrestling business today. That’s due in large part of course to his proven track record in New Japan Pro Wrestling. But it’s also due to his time in WWE. But some fans are wondering where he stands today.

Nakamura is a born entertainer, there is no denying that. He has the ability to turn on his charisma at the push of a button and it may very well be that he never turns it off. Shinsuke looks and acts like a star because he is one. He has a full understanding of how to play the game and very few play it better than he does. So is he right where he belongs?

Many would argue he’s not and that’s understandable. He was so hot in New Japan that imagining him as anything any less was impossible when he left the company. He was the rockstar of New Japan and he embraced that role like no one before him ever had. It was logical to assume that his success would directly translate to WWE’s main stage.

Of course that assumption was perhaps not rooted in reality. WWE didn’t exactly have the best track record when it came to promoting Japanese Superstars. Then there was the fact that many independent talents were often encouraged to change their gimmicks upon arriving in Vince McMahon’s company. But there was reason to hope for the best.

This is not the same WWE that so many indie stars encountered in the past. This WWE embraced the independent scene and used that fact to its advantage. WWE does not force a guy to change who he is, merely for the sake of trying something new. In fact many Superstars are now extensions of their former selves. WWE allows them to bring what they have to the table so they can expand upon it.

It’s true that WWE’s treatment of Japanese talents has been less than stellar but Shinsuke Nakamura is an exceptionally gifted athlete. There was just no way that WWE, or any other company, could ever look at him and not see him for the star that he is. So if he’s allowed to be himself and if he’s given an opportunity to impress on the main event level, then what would stop him from excelling in WWE?

Shinsuke Nakamura came in like a star and that’s exactly how he was booked. WWE did right by him and much to everyone’s surprise, Shinsuke did get the red carpet treatment. He conquered NXT, just as many knew he would. But he also received an impressive amount of spotlight when he came to the main roster. 

Nakamura was presented as a respected athlete known around the world because that’s exactly what he is. The company knew what it had with him and any doubt as to WWE’s ability to properly book him was gone. This was the Shinsuke Nakamura that everyone wanted. He was the real deal.

But somewhere along the way, things began to go a bit south. Nakamura’s heel turn at WrestleMania 34 was shocking and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it was completely out of character for him. Yes, Nakamura had been a vicious heel in New Japan. He was fully capable of turning on anyone at any time and he would do it with a smile on his face. However, that was The King of Strong Style. 

This Nakamura is The Artist. His canvass is the WWE ring and his artwork is beyond compare. Shinsuke was popular because he was different. He was over because he was unique. His flair for the dramatic set him apart from everyone else and it made him a must-see WWE Superstar. He was indeed an attraction.

But the moment he turned on AJ Styles was the moment he put the WWE Championship above his art. Nakamura was no longer an exceptional character capable of wowing an audience of millions. Now he was just another heel with an agenda. What made him special was overshadowed by what made him typical. Shinsuke was just like everyone else. But is that really the case?

Nakamura has thrived in many respects since WrestleMania 34. He was able to use a different side of his personality and he learned to get over in different ways. Instead of using his crowd-pleasing character to make the fans smile, he now uses it to make them recoil in confusion. What’s wrong with him? Why does he act like this? What happened to the lovable guy we once knew?

Now his character is more enigmatic than ever before. Was The Artist persona merely just a mask he wore to fool everyone and now he’s finally showing the world his true self? Is he now Batman when he previously had everyone believing he was Bruce Wayne? Shinsuke Nakamura is fully immersing himself in this twisted version that WWE fans didn’t even know existed. But most importantly, he’s loving every minute of it.

There’s a reason why Shinsuke Nakamura is the United States champion. That belt could have landed on any number of SmackDown Live Superstars but it currently sits on Nakamura’s waist. Why? Because he can wear it like no one else can and because he’s a Japanese Superstar that came to WWE with dreams of doing great work on the worldwide stage. That’s exactly what he’s doing and he doesn’t need the main event in order to do it. 

Would fans love to see him as WWE champion? Yes. Could he wear that title and add value to it? Absolutely. Does he need it in order for fans to consider him successful? Absolutely not. Shinsuke Nakamura may not be the top guy and he may not be the face of WWE but he is an important piece of the presentation. But is that enough?

The fact is that Nakamura will probably leave WWE one day. He will likely return to New Japan and reclaim his throne as The King of Strong Style. But until then, fans have a chance to enjoy one of the most colorful and capable characters that WWE offers today. He may get a run at the top eventually. If he does, then everything that came before will merely be just another chapter in his story. With any luck, that story is far from over.


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Who Is The Villain? Charlotte or Becky?

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Becky Lynch

One of the biggest stories coming out of SummerSlam was the complete disintegration of the friendship between Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch after Flair seemingly stole the SmackDown Women’s Championship from Lynch when Lynch seemingly had the match won, but hitting Lynch with Natural Selection for the three count. A furious Lynch knocked out her former friend and left her in a heap. Now, the surface narrative has been Becky turning heel, but the WWE Universe hasn’t been cooperating with that narrative, preferring to cheer Becky as the hero of this tale and boo Charlotte as the villain. Are they right or is this another example of fans hijacking the narrative?

Heel!Becky. This is the WWE narrative: Becky was so outraged by Charlotte stealing her moment again, she turned on Charlotte and has repeatedly attacked her former friend from behind, which is certainly what a heel would do.

The pros of this has been Becky’s new attitude and her more ruthless approach in the ring. The way she turned was very heelish. To hug your best friend and congratulate her and then slap the taste out of her mouth and beat her up is extremely heelish…or it should be.

The problem is that Becky’s reaction is perfectly understandable. Pretty much everyone knows a Charlotte Flair, the favorite that always gets the breaks, whether or not they’ve really earned it. For Becky, who had worked so hard to earn that title shot, to have Charlotte basically get a shot just for showing up and then stealing the title from her, would’ve been hard to swallow, especially knowing that you had the match won and your ‘friend’ not only cost you the title but attacked you and pinned you to win that title.

Heel!Charlotte.  This is the fan narrative: Charlotte is the heel because she didn’t have to work nearly as hard as Becky to get that SummerSlam title shot, all she did was show up for work and win one match, while Becky had to beat every heel in the division. Charlotte also seems to have made the decision to attack and pin Becky rather than Carmella. That’s an extremely shitty thing to do to someone you consider a friend, especially knowing how hard that friend worked to get the opportunity you stole from her.

Charlotte doesn’t help her case by acting like an entitled princess who can’t understand why people  don’t get why she deserves to always be champion, even when she doesn’t. Her derision of Becky as ‘insecure’ and saying that Becky didn’t deserve the title because she didn’t win, even though Becky HAD the match won and basically derided and insulted the person she used to call a friend, shows a level of narcissism that’s just shy of being a serial killer. It shows that in Charlotte’s mind, it’s ALL about her and that she’s the only one who deserves to be champion and if you’re not going to cheer for her and support her, you’re nothing to her. This is a woman who will not tolerate her flaws being pointed out, even when she deserves to be called out. That’s not much of a babyface.

However, Charlotte’s reaction to Becky’s comments isn’t that uncommon with how other babyface champions have reacted to insults, justified or not. John Cena has been infamous for having similar reactions to being called out, and a lot of women would probably have had similar reactions during a fight with a good friend.

If there is a defense for Charlotte’s behavior, it may be that her path to WWE was SO different from Becky’s which makes it hard for her to understand why Becky was so upset, but at the same time, she doesn’t seem to really want to understand or care. To her, Becky is just jealous and insecure, not someone with a legitimate reason to be angry.

So, who is the real heel here? Well, in the words of Obi-Wan-Kenobi, it depends on your own point of view. Both women have a real claim to be the righteous party in this argument, but it’s pretty clear that, at least to most fans, Becky is the hero who struck back at teacher’s pet, Charlotte. It remains to be seen if WWE will get on board or stick with their chosen narrative.


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Brock Lesnar Creates the Kind of Chaos WWE Does Not Need

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Here we go again. The main event scene on Monday Night Raw has once again become even more disturbing with the addition of Brock Lesnar.

The former Universal Heavyweight Champion entered the main event at Hell in a Cell, taking down both the current champion Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman in a  sad but predictable ending to a decent pay-per-view.

WWE cannot seem to get out of its own way in deciding what to do with the red brand’s title. Or, maybe it’s Lesnar who is holding the marionette strings of a company that has not moved on from the Beast Incarnate to forge a new identity of main event stars. The Hell in a Cell match between Reigns and Strowman was muddled with the arrival of Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose as it was.

Adding Lesnar to the chaos and disorder creates more problems than solutions for the creative team, Reigns and the title he wears around his waist.

The thought was once Reigns beat Lesnar to claim the belt, it would be the end of the line for the WWE and UFC star, who has made no secret he wants to dominate the octagon once again. It also opened the door for Reigns to finally assume his role as Vince McMahon’s master plan of having the current Shield Member and four-time champion to step over Lesnar, John Cena and anyone else in his path as the company’s new face.

I’m sure WWE’s fans have finally succumbed to the notion Reigns isn’t going anywhere. To steal a phrase from Ric Flair, “Whether you like it or don’t like it, learn to love it…”

You get the idea.

So now, WWE has a three-headed monster fighting over the same belt it did only months ago with no end in sight. The notion of McIntyre stepping forward as the next opponent for Reigns looks to be squashed. Lesnar’s contract, demands and lack of airtime while wearing the Universal Title finally pissed the fanbase off. Does putting the strap back around his waist make sense?

Now that Strowman has become an ally of Ziggler and McIntyre, how does this all play out? Does anyone care? Is the best thing to come out of the Hell in a Cell match is the return of Paul Heyman? It’s still a tangled web WWE weaves with no ending point. It’s status quo for poor booking.

It appears to be the norm, not the exception. We all just learn to deal with it, mainly because change does not seem to be a good thing in this promotion.


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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