Every time I tell myself I’m not jumping back into the Roman Reigns internet wars, something happens to bring me back in like Michael Corleone in Godfather III. There have been a bunch of stupid articles, videos, etc the past month or so about Roman, speculating that he has heat backstage for pulling out of WrestleMania 36, that no one is allowed to mention his name while he’s gone, etc. Now these folks don’t have any proof of anything, they’re working off of ‘it feels like’, ‘I heard that’, and other such weasel words that one uses when they’re trying to pass off things on their readers/listeners that they have no facts about, but are easily accepted because they meet established narratives and are susceptible to confirmation bias. In this case they’re relying on you believing all the old and recent stories about Vince being petty, vindictive, and getting mad at people backstage over every little thing. Some of those stories were true, some of them weren’t but Vince getting mad backstage and being petty is a thing that’s happened enough times that any story you throw out there is going to be believed by somebody.
But then there’s the other piece, and that is Roman Reigns. I’ve talked plenty of times here and on Twitter how there have been entire internet followings built on talking bad about him. But since he came back from leukemia there’s been another element to it, and that’s concern trolling over him. ‘How long will the fans give him before they turn on him?’, ‘How long until Vince puts the title back on him?’, and ‘Will the fans turn on him when he wins the title again?’ are just a few examples. There was also the rampant speculation last year that he was going to beat Kofi Kingston for the World Title when Smackdown went to Fox, and the guarantees that he was going to win the Royal Rumble this year. Neither of those things happened, but that didn’t stop all the clickbait that went out saying that they would. And now we have a variety of ‘Does Roman have heat?’ pieces, with virtually nothing in the way of actual reporting. It’s just ‘Vince has gotten mad about stuff before, so he might be mad at Roman now’. And they rely on you thinking that Vince getting mad about all kinds of stuff before means he very well might be mad now. Which they have no proof of.
Why do this? Traffic. Two years ago I opened up my own traffic numbers here to show how much Roman drives traffic on even a small site like this one. So I’m going to do that again now to show you that things haven’t really changed. As of 11:00 AM on May 2, 2020 here are my top 10 posts for the year 2020 with the numbers of hits:
- WWE Live Fall Tour Report – 507
- Movie Review : Birds of Prey – 367
- Roman’s Next – 194
- Movie Review : Star Wars Rise of the Skywalker – 175
- My Own Skywalker Saga – 160
- Retro Recap: WrestleMania 6 – 121
- Magic Marvel Movie Moments – 118
- Talking About Racism…Again – 94
- Movie Review : BlacKKKlansman – 45
- Music Review : Gang Starr – 34
*Update – as of May 5 this very post has enough hits to crack the top 10 with 119.
Now for some context, I took out Facebook ads to promote every one of those except two: Roman’s Next and Talking About Racism Again. So a piece about Roman Reigns that I tweeted out a link for once got more hits than a piece I did about Star Wars with my full advertising budget, and in two months less time. My top post, that I did indeed advertise, had Roman’s name as a tag and had a good bit of space devoted to him. So just like two years ago stuff I write about Roman takes off pretty well on it’s own and the ones I put money behind blow up huge. For even more information, I tweeted out my original piece on Roman and numbers on May 1 and it already got enough hits (28) to get close to cracking the top 10 and there are five year old pieces that I haven’t promoted since they first dropped that are still getting hits. And here’s some Google trends data for Roman compared to the two current top champions in WWE, Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman, the top Champion in AEW Jon Moxley and Bray Wyatt who’s been a big hit on Wrestling Twitter since last Spring. Worldwide is here and the US is here.
So what am I getting at here? Well two years since I last checked and over five years since his big singles push started, he’s still a traffic driver here and elsewhere, more than any other full time male wrestler. And that means people who need site traffic to make money are going to get his name on as much stuff as possible no matter how flimsy the premise. Take the ‘not allowed to mention his name’ bit. In just the past few days some of his best matches have been put up on the WWE’s YouTube page and FS1 is having a Best of Roman Reigns Hour on May 5th, and he’s still on the header for SmackDown even though we have no idea when he’s coming back (thanks for nothing COVID-19). Which means that the ‘don’t mention him’ thing is a load of crap. We’ve seen people disappeared from WWE stuff before and this clearly ain’t it. But it’s gotten a bunch of people to click on links in the meantime. Never mind that AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Kevin Owens and Edge haven’t been seen since WrestleMania, and Mustafa Ali has been ghost for months. Roman’s name gets put in all these stories because it draws traffic and there’s a plausible story in internet land to attach to him.
But that doesn’t mean that these stories are worth a damn. There was a lot of chatter going around on May 1 that Florida was going to open up for fans to start attending shows, and several sites picked it up only to be debunked when it was revealed they were taking their information from the wrong report. These are the same folks that took a tweet from former WWE writer Brian Gerwitz about an idea that was pitched and never came close to seeing the light of day and turned it into ‘Vince almost did this’. That’s the level of intellectual dishonesty that these folks trade in on a daily basis, and it ultimately poisons the discourse around the entire wrestling fan experience. They run this stuff because it’s provocative and it gets clicks. And the reality is that as much as these guys have made hay about the need for an alternative to WWE, we’re a year into that now and they’re still going back to the tried and true when they could be writing or talking more about AEW, or giving a boost to MLW or Impact or ROH or indie wrestling for that matter. The stories are there but these guys are lazy; they won’t put in the time to really talk to you about what they say are superior products and instead run back to posting crap about the place many of them claim to hate. Now I can’t stop you guys from clicking on or sharing that stuff, but I can tell you how fraudulent they are and how their whole program works. The rest is up to you.