Roman Reigns has been "the guy" in WWE for longer than he's been saying that, but fans haven't been nearly as receptive as WWE hoped. He was pushed to the moon and won the Royal Rumble in 2015, but fans never bought in. The question keeps popping up about whether or not WWE will end "The Roman Experiment." As fans continue to refuse to cheer him, they wonder more and more if WWE will finally listen and change course. Are they finally giving up on it? The short answer is no, but the most recent episode of Raw helps us understand why.
Majority Roman, minority everyone else
Firstly, look at Roman's screen time. He had five total segments, two matches, and almost as many lines as the commentators. Okay, the last one is an overreach, but it stands that Roman was the most prominent member of the roster. Not just the most prominent member of Raw, but of WWE, including SmackDown Live, 205 Live, and even NXT.
There's no storyline explanation for him to continue to hold such a position, as consistent losses and disqualification wins taint his record. His mic skills are middle road at best, but even that would be more forgivable if his matches were something special. They're good, but with Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Braun Strowman, Kevin Owens, and even Dolph Ziggler constantly giving us barnburners, just "good matches" can't excuse his on-screen oversaturation. With more time than any of his competitors, WWE should be getting a better reaction from fans than they currently are.
Any reaction is a good reaction
That's the argument some will say. "But he is getting a reaction," they'll scream. While that's not entirely wrong, listen closer to the reactions he's getting. A backstage segment can fall flat, but the crowd pops as soon as Seth Rollins walks into view. His most recent pay-per-view outing against Jinder Mahal received a legendarily terrible reaction. Here's just a short list of the things the crowd chanted during the match.
- This is Awful
- Rusev Day
- CM Punk
- Let's Go Cena/Cena Sucks
- Let's go Beach Ball
- You Suck
- This Match Sucks
- End This Match
Those are definitely not the chants you want on a main roster PPV during a hyped singles match, especially considering none of the names listed above were even in that match.
Then, of course, there's the deafening "BOO" from the fans before he goes to hit a spear. Roman poses, and shouts something akin to "oooahh," but the only thing you can hear is the crowd's disapproval. It was resounding this week on Monday Night Raw, just as it is every week.
Roman's reactions, while present, speak to the issue John Cena has struggled with for years. He produces great merch for kids, and makes plenty of money on it, but more and more adults are changing channels or looking for alternatives because of their disdain for WWE's "guy." Roman hurts the product in the long run, but when WWE is a massive content steam engine that can afford such a blatant disregard for their audience's opinion, why should they care?
Why should WWE give in to what the fans want?
This is really the question to ask. Look no further than Bayley and Sasha Banks, who rather than being put in a heated rivalry, are being turned into Team Hell No Version 2. Look at Daniel Bryan vs The Miz, a story and a match worthy of WrestleMania, thrown out in a dark match a couple weeks ago without a second thought.
The Riott Squad and Absolution debuted in the same week, but have done almost nothing of note since then. It often feels like WWE doesn't plan long term unless it is for one of their big four pay-per-views, and even those rely on part-timers like Shane McMahon, John Cena, and Brock Lesnar. Meanwhile, The Roman Experiment continues on with zero regard for what the fans are saying.
Why keep watching if things are so bad?
This is not just a question that non-wrestling fans ask, but that fans ask of each other when someone complains about stuff. "If you hate it so much, just stop watching," is a phrase thrown out more often than you'd think. The simple answer is that, while Roman is shoved down the throat of viewers, he's definitely not all there is to watch.
WWE's booking decisions may feel erratic and completely random at times, but for all their terrible storylines and matches there is still great content to see. They may frustrate fans with matches like Reigns vs Mahal, the misuse of stars like Neville and Austin Aries, or the booking of Asuka and Carmella's feud on SmackDown Live. However, through that struggle, we still get classics like AJ Styles vs John Cena, once in a lifetime moments like Daniel Bryan standing tall at the end of WrestleMania 30, and Rusev's delayed but deserved title shot against AJ Styles.
Triple H seems to understand things, which is clear based on NXT's sell-out crowds and continued commercial and critical success. Amid the frustration, there are definitely people there who know what they're doing. Unfortunately, The Roman Experiment seems not to be dead, but merely is entering another reinvention. There is hope that this won't be the precursor to another lackluster build to WrestleMania. We might finally get the mythical Roman heel turn, or at least some character development other than "put Roman with The Shield and he'll be cheered."
What do you think of The Roman Experiment? Do you think WWE should make changes? Let us know in the comments below!