A Closer Look At Reigns vs. Cena Submitted by Steve Perry on 09/06/2017 at 12:02 PM
At No Mercy, a Raw-branded PPV that sounds a lot better than Great Balls of Fire, John Cena (the ‘free agent’ of WWE, which gives them the ability to use him on whatever show they want) goes against Roman Reigns after one of the most talked-about promo exchanges since AJ Lee’s “#pipebombshell” against the other Divas, which they were all called at the time. You may have thought I was going to mention CM Punk’s epic promo to John Cena, but no. No promo touches that. The promo with Reigns and Cena even got a special full segment upload to WWE’s YouTube page.
Cena and Reigns cut the sort of promo on each other that would be reserved for… Well, Cena or Reigns. This match seems interesting and though neither man typically loses, Cena won that promo hands down. That isn’t too surprising. Considering he’s one of the best mic workers in WWE, when he can be, and Reigns is notoriously bad on the mic. Even when the promo is scripted and there isn’t much room for improv, Cena still knocks it out of the park.
In this feud, Cena is clearly the crowd favorite, though just barely. When the opportunity comes, Cena is more than capable of cutting some of the best promos in the business, which makes Reigns stand out even more, in a bad way. WWE really wants Reigns to take control in his promos, but he goes against some of the best in the business, like Brock Lesnar, whose mouthpiece is Paul Heyman, Cena, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Triple H, just to name a few, all of whom are stellar mic workers which makes it hard for Reigns to stand out.
As for the match itself, I could easily see Reigns winning this match to be a hypothetical “torch passing” but for the first time in a long time, the bulk of the crowd will likely support Cena here. Unfortunately, I personally can’t see any viable reason that Cena wins this. All the value for WWE is to have Reigns win a very hard-fought battle with John Cena. While it likely won’t change the minds of any fans, Reigns can use this win over Cena.
Now, this match deserves a much bigger stage than No Mercy. That means that a bad finish is also likely. A rematch could take place at Survivor Series or it could be a rubber match if you include TLC, which is the next Raw-branded PPV following No Mercy. A 3rd PPV match between these two isn’t out of the realm of possibility and the only reason Cena would win. Making this a three-month angle is not improbable for what WWE can do. This is a company that booked a WrestleMania main event a year in advance and put one of their World Titles on Jinder Mahal, so milking a feud for 3 months is easily within WWE’s wheelhouse,
Not only that, but WWE owns both of them and doesn’t rely on any part-timers to sell what they can do. With names like The Rock, Lesnar, and Goldberg, WWE had to rely on part-time people who generally aren’t under a full WWE contract. Even if Cena’s deal is flexible and versatile for all of his other projects, he’s still under a WWE deal and will appear wherever they need him. The same goes for Reigns, but he doesn’t have the same kind of stroke as Cena, whether he uses it to win matches or not.
Cena is one of the biggest stars WWE has ever had. He, The Rock, Stone Cold, and Hulk Hogan all fall into the same category. One that I have called ‘Megastars’, where their fame transcends WWE. They hope that Reigns can join that list someday. Reigns has to bust his ass to reach that level. There’s only so onymuch that WWE can do. He, the merch sales, and the fans (not the wrestling fans) need to accept him. Maybe then he’ll be a megastar, but I doubt it. Reigns has gotten off to a bad start.
Having so much opposition by wrestling fans has been a big slight to his out-of-ring career. Every other Megastar had the popularity of SOME demographic of wrestling fan. They want Reigns to appeal to the same fans as Cena, which is mainly kids who buy his merch. Well, little kids can be vocal to their parents who’ll buy the merch for them. Reigns has some of that but not enough.
Reigns needs the support of some wrestling fans to reach that sort of stardom, but I don’t see it happening. He’ll be atop WWR for a long time. It’ll be even easier when Cena is gone. The only guy who was close to bring the next ‘Megastar’ was C.M. Punk. He could go in any role and had huge fan support. But, he had become famous after his infamous “pipe bomb” promo he cut in 2011 om John Cena just prior to his title match at Money in the Bank. Basically, Reigns has been protected from being good at promos since he checks every other box that Vince looks for.
WWE is hoping that Reigns will someday take Cena’s place as the actual Face of WWE, but Cena has to like that person, ng Reigns is well on his way. He works hard, has a great look, and a great in-ring presence. That’s just to name a few things. But instead of allowing him to naturally get over (which he could have, as a former part of The Shield) he was thrust into the main event picture after The Shield disbanded, at the expense of other stars who the older fans felt “deserved his spot”. This made Reigns into a corporate tough guy who didn’t deserve the success he had. At least Cena’s push could be explained – he’s one of the biggest of all time, he crushes in merch sales, he’s popular with the kids, and he will do anything to benefit WWE.
Cena claimed that Reigns viewed his US Title run as a demotion. It was. WWE was hoping they could quiet things down by taking Reigns out of the main event picture for a while, and involving some different faces, such as Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Brock Lesnar, and others, as World Champions, might take some of the heat off Reigns, but no luck. Reigns won his feud with Braun Strowman, who has a Universal Title match against Lesnar at No Mercy. Reigns also broke Kane’s long-standing record for the most eliminations in the Royal Rumble. Everything that WWE does to try and make Reigns a star will happen… in WWE. They will not have another Megastar with him.
But, for this match (or series of matches) with Cena, Reigns needs to win so WWE can have an easier time making Reigns the next big thing in WWE, even if he won’t be a Megastar anywhere but WWE. Reigns is clearly WWE’s choice to be the showcase Superstar in WWE, so he will be. This feud with Cena is necessary so the torch can be adequately passed. Having all his Rumble records didn’t help, “retiring” the Undertaker at WrestleMania also didn’t help (it may have hurt, because everyone loves The Undertaker) so winning this feud won’t get him over with the fans that already dislike him, but it should make it easier to transition Reigns into the role they want.
Now, Reigns will be the next “big guy” in WWE regardless of what happens here, but his big ‘accomplishments’ to date have felt awkward and they seem to come at the expense of stars that the WWE Universe really likes so overall, all things have been poorly received. At least winning this feud should make it easier to move Reigns into Cena’s hightops.