I really was trying to not write another piece on Roman Reigns until he came back. But the idiots out there will not let the man rest and insist on coming with their stupid hot takes to try and gin up traffic for their websites. Now I’m not above publishing stuff that I know is more likely to get clicked on but I really do try to not be stupid about it and so transparent that it’s obvious. Which means that when garbage like this Bleacher Report piece blaming RAW’s current ratings dip on Roman Reigns – not his absence mind you, but on how the show was built around him while he was there – is published, I feel I have no choice but to respond. Before I get going, no I’m not linking to it. I have a firm ‘no elevating trash’ policy in place here and posting a link to something I think really sucks, even so it can get a proper thrashing, only benefits the people that wrote and published it. A click is click and a share is a share, whether it’s because you love something or you think it’s terrible. Just a thing to keep in mind.
First, the ratings woes………can we please just stop with ratings talk? None of these yahoos on the internet who go on rants about ratings and how they are proof that EVERYTHING SUCKS know what they’re talking about. Either that or they’re being disingenuous. Any conversation about what’s going on right now with RAW should focus on two things – the calendar and injuries. December usually is a month where they’re just trying to make it through to January for the Royal Rumble buildup, and the storylines are just carrying over from November. Which means as long as everyone is there you’ll can get some really good matches but not much plot advancement. But when a lot of guys are sick or hurt, like this year you don’t get much on storylines and you get slim pickings on matches, too. 2014 and 2015 were some injury racked years, 2016 and 2017 weren’t. 2018 is another bad year as far as people being out – Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Alexa Bliss, and Jason Jordan are all out. There’s really nothing else to talk about. Whatever the rating number is, they’re in the same place they usually are compared to other shows on cable. If you want more ratings talk from me, take a look here. Otherwise I’m done with that.
Now on to the rest of the stupidity…….
The absolute worst part of the whole piece was where they used Braun Strowman as an example of someone who hasn’t been elevated properly because of the emphasis on Reigns, describing Braun as ‘a punching bag for Reigns’. Get the hell outta here with that nonsense. Braun Strowman spent at least half of 2017 tossing Roman into ambulances, and doing stuff that would get you put in prison in real life. When he wasn’t doing that he was winning two of the three singles matches they had on pay per views. And it doesn’t end there. Go watch the main event of Elimination Chamber this year. Braun Strowman did the following things:
- Eliminated five of his six opponents
- Ate a quadruple power bomb and FIVE different finishers without being eliminated
- Was only pinned after all of that, plus a run through a chamber pod and two more spears from Reigns
- Immediately got his heat back by beating Roman down after the match
After that he won the RAW Tag Team Titles by himself, won the Greatest Royal Rumble, and the Money in the Bank match. If that’s not elevation I don’t know what is. The person on the roster who gets to treat Braun like a punching bag isn’t Roman, it’s Brock Lesnar. Brock gives him almost no offense whenever they wrestle and stiffed him real good in their match at the Royal Rumble. You want to blame someone for stunting Braun’s growth, Lesnar is your guy. There are plenty of receipts to show that Roman Reigns has done more to elevate Braun Strowman than anyone there.
But Braun isn’t the only one that there is clear evidence of Vince having time spent on while Roman was the top guy. Remember 2016? Remember Finn Balor’s first night on the main roster? Who did a clean job for him that night? Roman Reigns. And what happened a few weeks later? Oh yeah, that’s right, Seth Rollins did a clean job to crown Finn the first Universal Champion. That’s a whole lot of elevation in a really short time if you ask me. And when Finn was injured in that match and had to vacate that title Kevin Owens had it literally handed to him by HHH in a match with Roman, Seth, and some other guy (Big Cat? Large Cazzz? Oh yeah, Big Cas!). After that Seth and Dean Ambrose continued to stay in the main event picture and get big matches in 2017 and 2018. Seth has been given big showcase match opportunities on several pay per views and Monday nights this year (and to his credit he has mostly been delivering in those matches). And more recently Drew McIntyre has been given a lot of TV time and a lot of shine in 2018. No, there was plenty of promoting going on the whole time. But Owens has been out since August and Braun for the past few weeks. Dean missed most of 2018 as well before coming back in August. And Finn missed seven months, killing his momentum. If you don’t think anything has been done to elevate people then you haven’t been paying attention. Which is often the case when it comes to people who complain about Roman Reigns and what kind of push he’s getting but that’s neither here nor there.
And finally, the other really stupid point this piece tried to make was that too much of the show was centered around Reigns before he went out. Where do I start? This year on average Roman was in the opening segment, a backstage piece or two, and a match. We’re talking maybe 30 minutes total on a 3 hour show and 20 of that was for the match. Steve Austin and The Rock got the same amount of time on the old two hour RAWs 20 years ago, and a lot more of their time was spent on the mic and in backstage stuff then. The idea that a good 20 minute match every week and a few minutes of promo time to set it up on a THREE HOUR SHOW is too much is ridiculous. And it’s not like nothing else goes on during the remaining two and a half hours. There’s plenty of stuff going on, and lots of it has been quite good. The whole Chris Jericho/Kevin Owens act that so many people enjoyed was literally taking place on the same show. Charlotte and Sasha Banks were having great matches against each other on the same show. The Hardy Boys comeback tour started on the same show. The Bar got together. Ronda Rousey. Alexa Bliss. AJ Styles feuded with John Cena. Goldberg came back. Seth, Finn, & the Miz from earlier this year. Were you napping during all of that?
Look, if you pay more attention to Roman Reigns than anyone else no matter what they have him doing, that’s on you. They’ve dropped his matches down the card some months, and even dumped them from the card entirely like at Summerslam 2016 and put other people in main events. Do not get on here and pretend those things didn’t happen. When you expend more energy on a basic midcard match between he and Jinder Mahal than on two Money in the Bank ladder matches and a Last Man Standing match from the same show, all three of which were very good and entertaining, you can’t get mad at Vince McMahon for that. When you make more noise a month later for Roman vs Bobby Lashley (another guy Roman put over clean to help try to elevate) than the Workrate fest Iron Man match that was put in the main event, the kind of thing you swear they should do to show they are ‘listening to the fans’, you can’t get mad at Vince McMahon. You counted along with the damn clock during Seth and Dolph’s match on that show, not Vince McMahon. You chanted about the Universal Title belt at Summerslam instead of making noise for the match, not Vince McMahon. You’re the one who started booing at Elimination Chamber this year once it looked like Roman was going to win, then cheered as he hit his finishers and got the pin. As many legit criticisms as there are of what they do one of them is not that people react stronger to one guy even when he was only doing mid level stuff than other guys in the main event.
At the end of the day, their job is to put people on TV in spots where they can perform well. The wrestlers job of course is to perform. But we as fans have a job and while Vince ultimately can’t tell us how to do it, he does watch how we do it and react accordingly. Does he read us right all the time? Of course not! But if you think that the lesson of the last three years from the way crowds have responded is that it was wrong to center the show around the guy who gets the most energy from them then it’s a good thing you’re just writing about wrestling and not running an actual promotion. And if you think a ratings dip after that guy left to go fight leukemia means that he didn’t bring anyone in by being there then I got nothing for you. Do better next time, dude.