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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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Stop Taking Pro Wrestling So Seriously; The Wrestlers Don’t

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Dolph Ziggler 2

This past Monday, Dolph Ziggler returned to RAW as part of WWE’s roster shakeup. I waited in anticipation for Wrestling Twitter to, once again, hit us over the head with how poorly Dolph’s being used, how he should quit WWE and go work for Ring of Honor or IMPACT Wrestling, etc. Typically, a good many of them didn’t disappoint. Folks, I think Dolph is a supremely talented performer and gifted athlete. I also think he’d be out of his mind to leave WWE for ROH or IMPACT, unless, of course, he’s tired of being showcased to millions of people each week.

The greatest trick pro wrestlers have ever played on fans was convincing us they care about their match as much as we do. Most of them don’t (nor should they), because their paycheck is, ultimately, what matters. Now, before you get all up in arms about this, understand what I’m saying. I’m not telling you professional wrestlers don’t take pride in the product they present to you. I’m not telling you they don’t bust their asses to entertain every last one of us who regularly haunt the VFWs, theaters, and arenas all across this glorious world. Damn near every single last one of them do just that, and it’s greatly appreciated by me, someone who’s been a fan of the genre for close to 35 years. However, when I hear or read someone say something like “Dolph is being wasted; he should go to IMPACT”, the sheer weight of the stupidity of such a statement forces my head onto the nearest table and I have to rest for awhile.

Good people of the internets and beyond, Dolph Ziggler’s accountant disagrees with you, verily. Dolph Ziggler’s agent disagrees with you as well. Hell, Dolph Ziggler disagrees with you, because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t have re-signed with WWE the last time his contract came up for renegotiation. Dolph has been getting paid handsomely to stare up at the lights in front of fifteen thousand people a night for a large part of the last decade. Sure, I guess “hulkin’ up” and dropping a leg in front of the same fifteen thousand people would be better, but what about being the World Champion of a promotion that bounced checks and couldn’t draw flies (unless “flies” were largely indifferent goofs who wandered into a building after too much butterbeer ice cream and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts)? Is that better, and if so, why? Because he might’ve won more matches? Because he could have “gotten a real run as World Champion”? Why in the world would that matter? It’s not real life. Hulk Hogan never actually beat anyone.

I love that so many fans are still so passionate about Dolph, despite everything WWE has done to make us not care about him, but far too often the passion we have for our favorites is misplaced. Cheer or boo for them (if you want), play fantasy booker, but do your best to stop short of managing their career path. You’re only putting yourself in a poor mood over something they very likely don’t care much about. Pro Wrestling is entertainment for us. It’s a job for them. I’ve always loved when a fan gets angry at a wrestler for not watching their own show. I mean, do you go hang out at your job for free on your days off? If you do, stop reading this article immediately and seek help.

Look, a big part of a wrestler’s job to make us suspend disbelief, not for they themselves to do so. With the amount of (mostly pointless) risks many of them are now taking, most of these men and women aren’t gonna be doing this line of work into their mid-40s. You’d better believe it would behoove every last one of them to maximize their earning potential, sock away as much money as they can, and leave the ‘marking out’ to the fans. I’ve been to WrestleCon, and let’s just say the autograph lines are not the same for everyone.


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Drew McIntyre Can Make Dolph Ziggler Matter Again

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Dolph Ziggler Drew McIntyre WWE Raw
Credit: WWE/YouTube

At one point, it seemed like the entire WWE Universe was behind Dolph Ziggler. But 2012 and 2013 feels like a long time ago to fans, and it probably feels like an even longer time ago for the Showoff himself. The veteran performer hasn’t clicked in any role creative has tried to carve out for him over the last few years.

Ziggler was a lousy gatekeeper, stifling any chance Baron Corbin or Shinsuke Nakamura had at a red-hot start by engaging them in boring, paint-by-numbers feuds upon their respective debuts. Mocking the entrances of some of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the business didn’t generate much of anything besides get-off-my-television heat, and the record scratch is just downright obnoxious.

It seemed like the 37-year-old was on the way out in 2017, but he ended up re-signing what was reportedly a lucrative two-year contract to stick with the WWE this past January. His United States Championship non-reign was baffling, as was his whiff as entrant No. 30 in the most recent Royal Rumble.

All of this is to say that the WWE has been scrapping the bottom of the barrel while trying to find something worthwhile — and more importantly, entertaining — for Ziggler to do on television. His in-ring work has always been top notch; it’s just that he hasn’t been involved in a fun storyline in what feels like forever.

Creative’s latest attempt to make Ziggler relevant again, however, just might be crazy enough to work.

With the superstar shakeup well underway this past Monday night, Ziggler strutted to the ring to cut a promo. We heard a lot of the same material from him as he condescendingly spoke to the crowd about how he always steals the show, and it seemed like this was going to be the same ol’ Ziggler; lacking in self-awareness and aloof to the fact that he hadn’t hijacked a pay-per-view in years.

Then a stick of dynamite went off in the form of Drew McIntyre.

With Titus Worldwide attempting to recruit Ziggler into their ranks, the former NXT Champion hit the ring like gangbusters. A new alliance has seemingly been formed between the Prodigal Son and the Showoff, and there’s plenty of substance in place to make it work.

These two performers have a lot in common, after all.

Ziggler has been fighting for the respect of fans, peers and presumably Vince McMahon since he arrived with the company in 2005. Starting off as a member of the Spirit Squad will set you back a few notches, that’s for sure. He overcame the initial awful gimmick, though, and became a world champion. No one can take that away from him.

McIntyre knows a thing or two about being saddled with a dreadful upon debuting.

He wasn’t able to wash off the stink of 3MB before the WWE decided to release him in the summer of 2014. McIntyre didn’t lose hope and instead reinvented himself on the independent circuit. Within two years of being let go by the largest wrestling company on the planet, the Ayr, Scottland native had turned Drew Galloway into one of the hottest brands in the business.

His promos were incredible, and his purpose was clear: put Scottish wrestling on the map and get back to the WWE in the process.

An unfortunate injury derailed what would have been a memorable run as NXT champion, but the fact that he debuted on the main roster instead of heading back down to developmental should tell you everything you need to know about McIntyre’s stock moving forward. While he isn’t currently positioned as a top guy on Raw, don’t be surprised to see him in the ring with the likes of Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns within the next year or two.

And it appears that Ziggler will be right there alongside him. McIntyre is magnetic enough to make Dolph Ziggler seem cool again. This is the Prodigal Son who stuck around teaming with the Prodigal Son who had to go elsewhere to make it work, and that could create a remarkably interesting dynamic between the two.

It’s not clear yet if Ziggler will simply be a manager or if the two will be tag-teaming, but this looks like a great gamble by the WWE. Pump some like into Dolph’s career while immediately lending some legitimacy to McIntyre for more casual fans. Instead of being the gatekeeper that Drew has to beat, Ziggler is the Trojan Horse that McIntyre snuck onto Monday Night Raw inside.

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CheapShots: Carmella’s Cash-In Is A Win…Even If You’re Not A Carmella Fan

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Carmella WWE
Cheap Shots are unfiltered, uncensored opinions, and those opinions reflect only the author!

So, by now, everyone’s heard that after several failed attempts, Ms. Money in the Bank, Carmella, has successfully cashed in her briefcase on Charlotte and is now the SmackDown Women’s Champion. A lot of fans were perplexed by WWE booking Charlotte to beat Asuka’s streak at WrestleMania, only to lose her title to Carmella on SmackDown, even though it took a beatdown by the debuting Iconics to make her success possible.

Carmella

Carmella’s successful cash-in is important and should be celebrated, even if you’re not a fan of Carmella’s:

  1. It frees Charlotte to go back to RAW. Charlotte has done very well on SmackDown, but I know a lot of fans are anxious for her to go back to RAW.
  2. It keeps Carmella on SmackDown. I know some fans want her to go to RAW, but I think keeping her on SmackDown would be a better idea right now.
  3. It makes the Women’s Money in the Bank Look Legit: After all the BS with how Carmella won the briefcase, WWE needed to have her win or have the Women’s Money in the Bank look like a joke.
  4. It elevates Carmella. Carmella has really suffered from a lack of direction for a few months now and her failed cash-in were starting to hurt her in the eyes of fans. For her to beat Charlotte and have a successful cash-in really helps her over the long run, plus it gives her a chance to shine and show her skills in the spotlight.

I know Carmella isn’t everyone’s favorite, but her getting the title is a breath of fresh air, a nice surprise, and opens up new feud possibilities for SmackDown going forward. Am I guaranteeing that her first run is going to be great? No, but it is a change and Carmella has come a long way from her days as Enzo Amore’s hairdresser on NXT, watching her grow as a champion will be fun to watch.


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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