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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Analyzing What Went Wrong with Roman Reigns against John Cena, No Mercy = EARLY Wrestlemania 34
By Mr. Tito
Aug 30, 2017 - 12:36:40 AM

Follow Mr. Tito on Twitter.com: @titowrestling

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Welcome back to the Ohio Valley Wrestling Class of 2002 of Columns, Mr. Tito STRIKES BACK exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. Easily, my favorite holiday is Christmas. Love the music, love the lights and trees, and I love the gift giving. And of course, the "reason for the season". As a kid, it was incredibly tough to have it just once a year on December 25th. But damn, when it came around, it was always amazing. However if my parents wanted to celebrate Christmas a few months early during, say, September, I would be OK with it.

That's what we have with WWE No Mercy 2017. It is Wrestlemania 34 EARLY. We're getting Christmas (or whatever important religious Holiday you may celebrate) early as pro wrestling fans. LOOK AT THESE MATCH-UPS:

- WWE Universal Title: Brock Lesnar(c) vs. Braun Strowman
- John Cena vs. Roman Reigns

As you may have read in other columns of mine for the past 2 months, both of those matches were my proposed Wrestlemania 34 match-ups. The "Tito Plan" had Braun Strowman winning the 2018 Royal Rumble match and then going on to defeat Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 34. That would make Strowman become "the guy". Meanwhile, just to have a match to troll everyone and be polarizing, Cena vs. Reigns would work nicely.

Instead, WWE is delivering Christmas early during September 2017 because the Grinch (Vince McMahon) still believes that Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar is THE drawing match of Wrestlemania 34.


The Grinch (Vince) is certainly a mean one to pro wrestling fans by still trying to force Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 34. If only Vince's heart would double in size and give us something different (probably already has doubled in size).

Let me repeat myself... If Roman Reigns is NOT over after defeating CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Triple H, and the Undertaker 100% clean along with beating just about everybody else (Wyatt, Rollins, Rusev, and even Strowman)... Better yet, go re-watch that Wrestlemania 31 match-up versus Brock Lesnar. After Brock hits that turnbuckle, Roman is actually dominating him and potentially on his way to defeating him until Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase. ALL OF THAT "booking welfare" yet RAW goes from being slightly above 4 million through early 2015 in viewership to scraping just above 3 million through August 2017 (yes, I'm wrong about "permanently under" 3 million early call, but we're getting there) while Reigns is getting PUSHED HARD.

If Roman Reigns isn't over after all of that favorable booking... What would it matter if he beats John Cena at No Mercy 2017? What would it matter if Roman beats Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 34? You're just piling on the favoritism that already exists and the wrestling fans see right through it. It's a FACT that Roman headlined shows are losing viewers and losing butts in seats since 2014 when his MEGA PUSH began. It's hard to dispute actual numbers.

Sadly, the WWE is actually repeating their SAME stupid business model for Smackdown for Jinder Mahal. I've heard from multiple persons now that he's a really nice guy and I don't blame him whatsoever. I blame the IDIOT WWE and Vince McMahon for the most ridiculous idea ever of creating a HEEL wrestler to make people in India like the WWE more. Huh? So the WWE believes that a sneaky and cheating villain foreigner will impress their countries of origins? Yeah, how did that work out again for Alberto Del Rio during 2011? I'm still awaiting that Mexican WWE boom in viewership. Can you tell me when that will arrive again? I'm sure they LOVED that the WWE had him cheat to win the WWE Title and then repeatedly cheat to keep it, just like Jinder is doing right now.

And here's where it makes it all the more tragic for Roman Reigns. Did you see his promo from RAW against John Cena. Yikes... Not only did Roman Reigns actually forget his lines and deliver awkward pauses, but he put no emotion into the scripted lines that he could remember. Sure, some of those were decent zingers on Cena, but would the REAL HUMAN behind Roman Reigns actually say that to Cena in real life? Is that really who Roman Reigns is? Because I don't know who Roman Reigns is, never have. He just appeared one day with 2 other wrestlers called THE SHIELD and he was the Powerbomb guy when needed. When the time called for it, he did his little roar ("ahhhhhhh") and Ambrose/Rollins would do their double atomic drop on a wrestler to assist Roman to powerbomb someone. Usually during tag matches, Roman would allow Ambrose/Rollins to take the beatings as the guys "in peril" and he'd get that hot tag to hit his big spots to go home.

However, what John Cena said is something that you'd believe that the REAL man behind the John Cena WWE character would actually say. That's the difference... Cena sells his WWE character as an extension of himself AND he's been allowed to take ownership of that character. He seems like a much more real human being than Roman Reigns. Hell, John Cena is his actual name whereas Roman Reigns comes from a long Samoan heritage of wrestlers but he also almost made it as a pro wrestler. Did you know that? Has anybody in the WWE ever advertised his football career? That's why when Goldberg hits the Spear, it gets over because everybody fully knows that he played in the NFL. Why does Roman do the Spear? Who is Roman Reigns?

Oh, that's right... Roman Reigns is a TRADEMARKED WWE name as is the look and character. My bad.

John Cena is 100% right with his comment about Roman Reigns being a "John Cena bootleg". It's the truth. Just like "All American" Lex Luger was a bad Hulk Hogan ripoff during 1993 with that stupid Lex Express. YOU CANNOT MANUFACTURE MAIN EVENTERS, especially in a short period of time. Luger in the WWE went from a midcarder heel who was posing in front of mirrors as the "Narcissist" to a Hulk Hogan wannabe with American tights. At least with Luger, he had his WCW career as a singles wrestler on his resume. What did Roman have before his post-Evolution Main Event push? Ummm, a bunch of Six Man Tag Matches and Tag Title runs? Oh, and a bunch of spots where he shouted "ahhhhh" and hit a powerbomb on someone. Whoopee.

Sure, John Cena is a WWE veteran of 15+ years now and has been a WWE Main Eventer for 13 years now. Furthermore, John Cena is also appearing in Hollywood more often and thus his acting skills are coming in handy to cut tighter promos. Roman was clearly outclassed but others have been as well such as AJ Styles during 2016. Styles got thrashed repeatedly by Cena... But I'll argue this about AJ Styles. He was in TNA Wrestling for years upon years and could never develop his speaking ability properly. John Cena, however, was in an environment during 2002-2004 that nurtured him as a midcarder to develop into a legitimately drawing Main Eventer during 2005.

That's the distinct difference between John Cena and Roman Reigns... Their careers BEFORE they received a MAIN EVENT push.

- BEFORE WWE Main Roster-

(a) John Cena wrestled for 2+ years for Ultimate Pro Wrestling from 1999-2001 before signing a WWE developmental deal to be in Ohio Valley Wrestling (WWE's developmental system back in the day) for about a year.

(b) Roman Reigns has no wrestling experience prior to signing a WWE developmental deal during July 2010. He only trained for just 2 months before making Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW, WWE's developmental system then) during early September 2010. He did remain in FCW (even when it officially became NXT) until November 2012.

So we're looking at Cena for just over 3 years of training/wrestling before his WWE main roster debut, Roman had just over 2 years.

- SINGLES WWE CAREER before Main Eventing-

(a) John Cena debuted in the WWE as a singles wrestler during 2002. However, it wasn't until 2003 that he was taken seriously his quick 2002 start (great debut versus Kurt Angle). Then, he won the United States title and was a drawing midcard champ by 2004. It wasn't until 2005 when he began chasing JBL for the WWE Title.

(b) Roman Reigns was all about the Shield stable from November 2012 through mid 2014. Sure, he wrestled a singles match here and there, but he was held tightly with the group for much of 2013 until that end-of-the-year feud with CM Punk. But then after he disposed of CM Punk (only Shield member to do it), the Shield solidified as a team again and feuded with Evolution. Immediately after Evolution breaks up, he receives a WWE Title shot at the next Pay Per View. Then the following Pay Per View after that. Oh, did I mention the runner-up in the 2014 Royal Rumble before all of that?

So you can see, advantage John Cena once again. Cena was a singles wrestler and was allowed to climb up the ladder as a singles wrestler. He was forced to draw as a United States Champion in order to prove that he was worthy of a WWE Title push. Roman had it handed to him.


(a) John Cena by a longshot and this is where a real wedge is driven between the two. Cena had the benefit of working with Paul Heyman who was booker of the Smackdown roster from 2002 through early 2004. Heyman is not just great at character development, but encouraging wrestlers to cut effective and emotional promos. With John Cena's rapping gimmick, he was actually given creative liberties to write his own raps for his character. Even though WWE Corporate was forcing scripting, the Creative Team couldn't write rap lyrics and thus Cena has a huge advantage here. Furthermore, Cena got to dominate the microphone from 2003-2004 before he could become a Main Event singles wrestler. Practice makes perfect. Better yet for Cena, he had Jim Cornette in the Ohio Valley Wrestling system to teach him on promos.

(b) Roman Reigns let Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins do much of the talking for the Shield as he just often looked tough in the background. Then, he'd step in and say "you can believe that". Completely under-developed as a promo guy and because the WWE Corporate culture thickened after June 2007 (Benoit), all promos are heavily scripted by WWE Creative with zero creative freedom. Sadly for Reigns, he's completely reliable on WWE Creative on anything he says and hasn't taken any ownership over his character like Cena did with the rapping gimmick. He is not a good talker, whatsoever, and a good part of that blame is to the WWE for their control. Worse yet, the WWE main roster road agents haven't work with him to improve as a performer.

Once again, advantage Cena. He had a better developmental system to teach him promos and then was able to craft his character and speaking ability for 3 years as a singles wrestler before becoming a Main Eventer. Roman's speaking ability was not developed as a member of the Shield and he was completely exposed when thrust into the Main Event scene by mid 2014. Nobody has worked with Reigns ever since then and it's a damn shame.

On RAW, what I just described above EXPOSED Roman Reigns in a promo against the veteran John Cena. He was unable to remember lines, put emotion behind his words, or even demonstrate himself as an equal to Cena. That's what is missed here, folks... For example, you could give Roman Reigns the infamous "Pipe Bomb" promo that CM Punk cut during mid-2011 and yet Roman would blow it. Hell, even Miz's Talking Smack promo. CM Punk and Miz have had the benefit of working for YEARS as singles wrestlers who were allowed to speak for themselves. Thus, they have EXPERIENCE on the microphone to speak effectively for themselves. Guys like Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus, both wrestlers rushed to the World Title without earning it as midcarders, also spoke poorly for themselves. Thus, both wrestlers failed.

Roman Reigns's failures as a Main Eventer from 2014-2017 is very much the fault of WWE Creative and Vince McMahon in addition the effort that Roman puts into his character, in-ring ability, and speaking ability. If Roman is to be "the guy", then people should be held accountable and possibly fired backstage for the 1 million viewers lost for RAW and the thousands in live attendance lost. Whomever came up with the idea of pushing Jinder Mahal as an evil HEEL Main Eventer despite being a jobber on RAW just to impress India should also be held accountable and/or fired.

The HILARIOUS thing is that the WWE has a roadmap on how to get wrestlers over as Main Eventers and they can easily view it on their own WWE Network. Furthermore, before pushing Roman hard during 2014, the WWE also had tape on wrestlers whom they tried to manufacture into Main Eventers. Lex Luger in 1993, Diesel in 1994-1995 (awful as a babyface!) Shawn Michaels in 1996 (awful as a babyface!), Sheamus during 2009-2010, and Alberto Del Rio during 2011.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it!" - George Santayana, 1905-1906

So yeah, Christmas has come early for pro wrestling fans. No Mercy 2017 is going to be DAMN GOOD with legitimately huge match-ups. However, it puts major heat on the WWE to come up with something big for Wrestlemania 34. Sorry, but Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar won't do anything long-term for the WWE.

But if the WWE boldly does Braun Strowman vs. John Cena... We could be OK. That's not a bad consolation prize and could be better for Strowman IF Brock Lesnar ultimately decides to leave WWE. If Lesnar does in FACT leave the WWE after Wrestlemania 34 when his 3 year deal expires to pursue MMA again (rumored to be potentially fighting Jon Jones during the Summer of 2018), what guarantees that Lesnar will give a strong effort? Remember my quote about remembering the past and not repeating it? Don't forget what happened with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 20. Part of what made that match against Bill Goldberg a "trainwreck" was Lesnar not giving a damn, whatsoever, about the performance in that match. Granted, Lesnar was frustrated with dates and pay during 2003-2004 to prompt his 2004 exit... WWE has well compensated Lesnar since 2012 and gave him an incredibly easy schedule. But there's that risk.

If Braun Strowman wrestles John Cena at Wrestlemania 34... I'm OK with that and I'm satisfied as a wrestling fan if Strowman beats Cena 100% clean. Given Cena's track record lately (Bryan, Styles, Punk, Owens, Nakamura), good chance that Cena will do business with Strowman. Furthermore, Cena will make him look great in the process whereas an exiting Lesnar might lack motivation. Just think if Lesnar wants to uphold his reputation heading into a big UFC match-up, too... He may purposely make his opponent look bad.

Hell, Braun Strowman possibly escaping that Wrestlemania 34 match-up with Lesnar is starting to sound OK now that I think about it...



- I am SO HAPPY that Shelton Benjamin is back with the WWE. In my opinion, he's that one wrestler from the 2000s that "got away". He should be yet another Main Eventer from that famous OVW "Class of 2002" but he was reportedly too vocal backstage about how he was used creatively. Little did he know that the backstage area had many snitches backstage who would play favor with Stephanie McMahon's creative team back then. He could have been a major star in pro wrestling but WWE's backstage management was petty regarding him. I could easily argue that he was the best in-ring worker outside of Angle and Shawn Michaels during the mid 2000s. In fact, Benjamin's efforts during the early Money in the Bank matches helped establish that as a grand tradition. He's in his 40s now, but damn it would be nice if he got one more shot at the Main Event scene.

You wouldn't hear the end of it with the OVW "Class of 2002" stuff. Seriously. You'd get hammered in your "Tito Drinking Game".

- LOVE that Bobby Roode is on Smackdown. He adds much needed depth and I hope that his presentation, thanks to NXT's Creative Team and Triple H, can get him quickly over. He's a longtime veteran who is presented in the right light to get over fast, much like AJ Styles during 2016. However, I believe that Roode has the personality intangibles that Styles doesn't have.

- Can someone explain to me WHAT THE HELL is going on with the Women's Division lately? Completely underwhelming on BOTH the RAW and Smackdown rosters. Seriously, Sasha Banks already lost her Women's Title after her big win at SummerSlam (I don't care if she was a fill-in). On Smackdown, they are pushing Naomi and Natalya despite having very capable talents Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair (granted, she's been caring for Ric) on their roster. What the hell? The funny part is how WWE Shopzone was working to make glowing Women's Titles in favor of Naomi and she already lost her Women's Title.

There's arguments over who started the Women's Revolution... The REAL question should be WHO in WWE Creative ended it?

- Speaking of Women's Wrestling, I hope to be watching the Mae Young Classic... However, I recently dared to start watching an HBO show that is extremely popular. For years, I've avoided it and even trolled those who were obsessed with it. Instead of watching this great HBO show, I binged on many other shows instead, particularly on Netflix, such as Breaking Bad, Dexter, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Wentworth, the Office, and even Grey's Anatomy (with Mrs. Tito, of course). Plus, many shows with just 1-2 seasons such as DareDevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Stranger Things, and many others. I'm HIGHLY ashamed for the amount of DAYS that I've spent binging shows... But I avoided this one... Not being too impressed by the Defenders recently on Netflix, I decided to finally give this show a shot... GAME OF THRONES. Now early into the second season, I'm addicted. Sorry, but outside Tuesdays/Wednesdays (Hulu is 1 day later for RAW & Smackdown) plus Pay Per Views... I seek a different world to get lost into besides wrestling. And damn, Game of Thrones is addicting.

I'm STILL amazed that will all of this compelling television out there, which is the true Golden Age of television in my opinion, that the WWE can't at least have good character development or storytelling. Surely, a minor writer of any of the shows above could be hired and utilized for ideas.

I'd write more, but I have more shows to inhale... God help me.


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© Mr. Tito and LordsofPain.net/WrestlingHeadlines.com - 1998-2017

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