Roman Reigns provides the power for WWE's newest pack of wolves, The Shield, but a long look at his ring work reveals a number of talents beyond powerbombing men through tables.
Reigns is more than just a charging bull in the ring.
A member of the famed A’noai wrestling family, Reigns (real name: Leati Joseph A’noai) is a former defensive lineman at Georgia Tech. He later attempted to jump to the NFL, but the Minnesota Vikings eventually waived him.
He now brings all 6'3'', 265 lbs to the wrestling ring.
While his Shield teammates, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, may have him beat in the charisma and speaking departments, Reigns has great potential. His strengths go beyond his physical strength and he is a bit of fine-tuning away from being an excellent in-ring performer.
For a man his size, Reigns demonstrates impressive quickness and, for the most part, is fluid in the ring. No one is going to be confusing him with Rey Mysterio, but he has more than enough athleticism to be far more than a one-dimensional wrestler.
In between hammering clotheslines and slams, Reigns can throw in a variety of moves that show off his agility.
He delivers a solid dropkick, where he appears to be comfortable with leaving his feet and bounces up deftly after landing.
Reigns doesn't have elite-level speed, but he is fast enough to keep a match's pace at high-octane. Watch him charge at Damien Sandow and notice his foot quickness. His acceleration isn't all that impressive, but his footwork and body control stands out.
Having agility as an asset allows him to be more than just a power-move specialist and adds variety to his matches. Still, it's his strength that remains his biggest weapon.
Power without Precision
With chiseled arms powering them and the ring rattling upon impact, Reigns' powerbombs and slams are mighty convincing. He must, however, refine the precision of his sometimes sloppy moves.
His powerbomb to end the Six-Man TLC match at TLC: Tables, Ladder and Chairs was a gloriously violent way to cap off that battle. The same goes for Moment of Silence, a move he once used as a finisher.
It's when his slams and throws lack smoothness that causes concern.
Pro wrestling moves are performed such a way as to maximize how dramatic they look while keeping the recipient as safe as possible. Not only does a sloppy Samoan Drop like this one not look as fluid, but it drops Reigns' opponent (in this case, Peter Orlov) at an awkward angle.
In an ideal Samoan Drop, the attacker drops his foe as flat on their back as possible. They also tuck the opponent's head to avoid a collision of head and mat.
Here, Vader makes the move dramatic with his exaggerated delivery while managing to drop his opponent more safely than in Reigns' version.
In another instance, Reigns tosses Leo Kruger down to the canvas with a move that is bit too wild. Kruger lands more on his head than he should.
This is an issue that may be solved just with experience. It is also something that veterans backstage can help Reigns with.
With the body control he has, tweaking his power moves shouldn't pose much of a problem.
WWE superstars must exaggerate the pain they feel in the ring. Through winces, grimaces and other body language, a wrestler tells a story of suffering, a process dubbed "selling."
Reigns doesn't appear to be man unwilling to sell his opponent's offense, but his reactions to pain are unconvincing at times. His acting skills need work in order to improve the realism of his matches.
In an FCW match against Leo Kruger, Reigns took a pounding. The believability of that drubbing suffers from Reigns' selling ability.
There are times in the match where Reigns is supposed to be beaten down, but his level of exhaustion seems to shift. Crawling on the mat, he shows flashes of looking too energized to fit in with the in-ring narrative.
Reigns would be wise to watch film of Ric Flair in action in the '90s.
Flair certainly had moments of overdoing it, but he often seemed to be legitimately hurt in his matches, blurring the line between kayfabe and reality.
WWE Comparisons: Test
The late Andrew Martin aka Test looked a lot like Roman Reigns as he stalked his opponents.
Though Reigns gives up about five inches to Test, they have a similar body type. They are both tall, muscular men who can move swifter in the ring than their size suggests.
Reigns' intensity also parallels that of Test.
Like Test, he exudes an air of anger and strength when either slamming an opponent into a barricade or stomping toward a fallen foe.
Reigns shows flashes of The Rock in the ring as well.
While it may seem like a strange comparison, both Reigns and The Rock are former defensive linemen with good footwork and a less-than-perfect delivery of their moves.
As ugly as Rock's sharpshooter is, it's not much of an issue because of how beloved he is. The Rock has the benefit of his supreme charisma being able to cover up his in-ring deficiencies. Reigns doesn't have that option.
He'll have to woo people with his ring work.
Roman Reigns is a power-hitter with decent agility in his toolbox as well. He seems to understand the showmanship aspect of the business, but he needs polishing. Hard work and experience can clean up his minor issues.
Even if he isn't ready for the hottest of spotlights alone, he has the benefit of being a member of a team.
The Shield is an ideal fit for Reigns since Ambrose can provide the charisma and be the lead man on promos, Rollins can bring the high-flying and high-energy elements while Reigns can deliver the muscle.
On his own, Reigns may not have enough star presence to succeed, but as it stands, he's a highly valuable asset to WWE as the muscle of the hottest new team of thugs.
At only 27, Reigns has time to develop and fully utilize his talents, to amass a growing collection of splintered tables in his wake.
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