Monday 22 December 2014

Reigns Versus Ambrose

It’s getting to the point where WWE are going to have to commit to a new main event push for someone. The belief is that this new main eventer will win the Royal Rumble and go on to dethrone ‘The One’ Brock Lesnar (as opposed to ‘The One’ Billy Gunn) for the WWE world championship at WrestleMania. While a Rumble win doesn’t mean WWE are obligated to stick with pushing this new guy for years on end but it does pretty much mean they’ll have to stay behind them through at least ‘Mania 31. Otherwise the Rumble, one of the few legitimate star-making tools the promotions has left, will have been wasted.

The belief is also that Roman Reigns is the current frontrunner to get this push. I mean, ho oculd he not be? He has basic wrestling ability, looks good, and has a charisma to him that many other wrestlers lack. He is the embodiment of looks over substance that typically motivates WWE when they select their uber-stars.

Should we believe in this guy...
The trouble with Reigns as a main event guy right now is that he has some very clear limitations. Most importantly, as far as decision-makers are concerned, is his inability to cut a decent promo. He apparently had acting lessons over the last few months while he was off recovering from his hernia surgery. If true it doesn’t show. He somehow got worse while he was away from TV, something I wouldn’t have thought possible in the autumn. Not that it’s entirely Reigns’s fault. The writing team should recognise his limitations in this area and present him as a brooding, monosyllabic thug who dishes out justice rather than a guy who cracks jokes and spikes The Authority’s coffee.

The second issue Reigns has is that he has yet to demonstrate that he can wrestle a compelling singles match of more than ten minutes. Any time he’s shone in the ring he’s been in tag match, a six man match, or some sort of meticulously laid out multi-person effort, such as the ladder match at Money in the Bank. His sole singles outing of substance so far has been against Randy Orton at SummerSlam, which was technically sound but painfully unengaging.

This doesn’t sound like the description of somebody WWE are going to spend a lot of time and effort turning into a star… but he is good looking. You can see the dilemma. Making it even trickier for those in charge is the existence of Dean Ambrose, a man who can do the things Reigns can’t but fails in areas where Reigns is strong. Put simply Ambrose is a not-conventionally good-looking man (certainly not by WWE’s specific standards) and doesn’t have Reigns’s impressive physique, but he knows his wrestlespeak and can produce enjoyable matches that last longer than ten minutes with ease.

The thing that really sets Ambrose apart is how invested in him the fans have already become. The rivalry he and Rollins shared over the summer and early autumn was one of the most heated WWE plots in years, stemming from an angle that was simple and entirely relatable. His series with Bray Wyatt has not come anywhere close to being as great as it could (and probably should) have been, which has seen his momentum cool, but he remains incredibly popular.

... or will continuing to support Ambrose force WWE's hand?
The comparisons to ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin are not justified at this point, but ‘The Lunatic Fringe’ is popular enough to justify WWE taking a chance on him as the man to tangle with and defeat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. The likelihood is that that match would work and be received better than a Reigns v Lesnar bout. But Reigns is the more traditional main eventer and has strengths that Ambrose lacks. It is, basically, a bit of a conundrum for WWE. Do they go with the guy who fits their tried and tested approach or the man the public have chosen?

I think they’ll end up going with Reigns. They went with the public’s choice last year with Daniel Bryan and he ended up sitting out the majority of the year with some severe neck problems. That was nobody’s fault but it could be taken by WWE as a sign that “indy guys” like Ambrose and D-Bry are not cut out for the rigours of the very top of the sports entertainment world. Reigns, by contrast, will be seen as a typical WWE lad and therefore a safer choice.

If they do decide to commit to Reigns then I hope they do the smart thing and have the Rumble come down to he and Ambrose as the final two. Ambrose would be given a credibility boost lasting to such a position and it would cast doubt on the outcome. They probably won’t go with it though: it would risk the crowd turning on Reigns. And they couldn’t have that, could they?

No comments:

Post a Comment