In real life when I talk about wrestling most people walk off in disgust at the hairy man-child before them claiming that grown men in underpants pretending to fight is an art form. On here, however, my wrestling posts are the ones that get the most views. Seeing as that’s how I determine my own self-worth (that and I’m having a fat day) I’m doing a wrestling post.
RING THE BELL!
So in the past I’ve had a few harsh words about current WWE World Heavyweight Champion and all around charisma vacuum Roman Reigns. To reiterate a point that has been iterated to death by every wrestling journalist ever, Reigns is not a bad wrestler. Unfortunately between poor booking, inconsistent performances and a lack of personality he has not been received well by crowds. The guy who is supposed to be your top babyface continually gets booed out of the building.
Commentator JBL puts this down to Reigns inspiring so much passion in people they have to react, good or bad. He also strikes me as someone who would say that having a hot drink will cool you down on a hot day which everyone knows is bullshit and he should be fired right away for being a liar, liar, pants on fire.
Throughout wrestling history promoters have picked their “top guy”, the face of the promotion who puts butts in seats. It’s a tried and tested model of running a wrestling company that still works well today. WWE however- despite being the most successful promotion in the history of pro wrestling- have an awful habit of getting the top guy completely fucking wrong, booking themselves into a corner and having to change that guy on the fly.
WWE would like you to think that in the 80s and early 90s Hulk Hogan had the biggest pops and the best matches (well, maybe not after this but run with me). I got two words for you:
Savage’s place as a legend of the business may not have been cemented until his WCW days, but compare his Wrestlemania 7 pop with Miss Elizabeth to Hogan’s lukewarm cheers later in the night. Compare his WM 8 match with Ric Flair with Hogan’s match against Sid Justice. Hogan was a titan, Savage was just a man. But what a man.
Moving to the early 90s, WWE put everything behind Lex Luger. Blonde, tall, muscular- he fit McMahon’s definition of a superstar perfectly. His main event push would fall flat on it’s face due to poor crowd reaction and just not being able to perform to the standard that fans expected. Enter Bret “Hitman” Hart, a smaller guy, a hero that people could get behind due to his work ethic and charisma.
The list goes on. Stone Cold Steve Austin, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan- all guys who were nearly passed over for the top spot until fans protested. They are also characters that fans cheer for because they are RELATABLE.
Pro wrestling is a working class art, mostly enjoyed by blue-collar workers who want to see people like themselves succeed in this hyper-real world. Having a great physique and model-good looks is impressive but doesn’t provide for solid escapism.
This brings me back to Roman Reigns. The guy is an impressive physical specimen for sure, but I don’t see myself in him. I don’t see him as someone who I can live vicariously through. Here is someone with all the advantages you can possibly have in the wrestling world- good looking, natural athletic ability, being related to The Rock- and it makes me not want to cheer for him.
So who would I have as the face of WWE? AJ Styles? Finn Balor? Shinsuke Nakamura?
There are a lot of talented performers in WWE. I’d say in terms of actual in-ring, technical ability this is probably the best generation there has ever been, even if the actual writing and booking leaves something to be desired. That being said I’m going to throw a name in the hat that may possibly be overlooked as some for a top face- Bray Wyatt.
Up until now we have mostly seen Wyatt and his Wyatt family as heels but think about it for a minute. He is one of best talkers we have seen in years: his smooth-as-silk, sweet-as-honey voice can captivate anyone. Most of what he says just sounds like he’s putting words together, but if it’s coming from a voice this pleasant then who cares?
Then there’s his look to consider. This is Bray Wyatt:
One thing you may notice is that he is a fat guy with a beard. I am also a fat guy with a beard. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that if you are a wrestling fan then you are either a fat guy with a beard, dating a fat guy with a beard or are the friend/relative of a fat guy with a beard. RELATABLE!
Don’t let his physique fool you, however. Wyatt can move with surprising athleticism and is one of WWE’s best conditioned performers. The guy can move and he keeps going. And with 5 star matches with the likes of Cena, Dean Ambrose, Chris Jericho and more under his belt I think with the proper booking Wyatt could easily be a top babyface. As long as they stop jobbing his stable out to retired has-beens.
That being said, this is just fantasy. Reigns is going nowhere. So perhaps it is more practical to look at how to get Reigns over as the top guy. All jokes aside I honestly think he has the potential to be that guy but it just hasn’t quite come together for him yet.
I’d say there would be two ways to get him to that level: the first would be to keep putting him with people he can have great matches with. Some wrestlers can put a good match with anybody, others need someone they spark with and Reigns is definitely the latter. His match earlier this month at Payback with AJ Styles proved he can put on that main event performance, he just needs to find a way to do that consistently in order to get over as a good guy.
The other way would be just to pull the trigger and make him a villain. This new attitude he has shown on TV lately has been great, I like this more aggressive Roman. Right now his character is walking that fine line between heel and face, fluttering between the two. This balance won’t stay interesting forever though and sooner or later he will have to go one way or the other. Maybe making him a heel and letting people’s natural reaction to him takeover would be the way forward.
So what do you think? Who would you pick as the top guy? Am I being a smark who should just let Roman grow on me? Should I go on a diet instead of complaining about how fat I am?
Thanks for reading, see you next time xx