Despite improving immensely as a performer over the past 18 months, Roman Reigns is still not ready to be the top star WWE is clearly hoping he will be. Sure, he has the wrestling skills and a fair amount of screen presence, but as a personality he’s still sorely lacking.
It’s been a hectic couple of months for Reigns.
He’s picked up several impressive singles victories, most notably against CM Punk on Raw a month ago. He also managed to make the final two of the Royal Rumble a few weeks later.
On top of all this, the star is also gearing up for a face turn, judging by his recent squabbles with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins.
Reigns' performances have been sterling in the ring. At the Rumble he was fantastic, with the star managing to prove he could consistently work well for a long period of time.
He’s easily one of the best big-man workers in the industry right now.
Alas, as a personality, he’s still lacking something. While he’s improved slightly as a promo, he’s still not anything close to the level of a John Cena or Daniel Bryan. He gets badly upstaged in terms of personality and magnetism in his recent backstage segments with Ambrose.
Regrettably, he’s not much of an actor either.
Reigns’ current character is a man conflicted between loyalty to his friends and his blossoming conscience. But he doesn’t really have the range or skills to pull it off properly. For all his talent in the ring, Reigns simply isn’t a believable three-dimensional character right now.
(Hey, here’s a suggestion: Maybe WWE Studios could even put him in one of its feature films in an attempt to improve his thespian skills?)
Granted, Reigns seems to get respectable reactions from the crowd—the fans were firmly behind him in his attempts to eliminate Batista at the Royal Rumble—but his reactions can’t hold a torch to those of Daniel Bryan, John Cena or CM Punk.
Maybe he needs a cool new catchphrase or some better promos. But his fan reactions don’t scream “top star.” Not yet, anyway.
When Reigns does inevitably split from Rollins and Ambrose, it’s easy to see a situation in which he flounders. He still has significant flaws that he needs to fix.
Of course, The Shield will split up eventually—it’s simply inevitable.
But considering that Reigns doesn’t seem to have taken off hugely, it might be smart of the WWE writers to put it off a little longer, at least until management are given more evidence he can thrive as a singles star.