Once again, Roman Reigns is back in the news for his outspoken opinions in media interviews. Last November, he got online heat for arguing that any comparisons to John Cena were "completely asinine", arrogantly pointing out how much bigger, better looking and more athletic he was. Two months later, Reigns baited his critics by calling them all "haters" that "hate because they hate their lives". This weekend, he has come back under fire again for his appearance on The Josh Podcast where he complained in a different manner about the recent hardcore fan backlash to his push straight to the top of WWE.
When put on the spot about his recent head butting with hardcore fans, Reigns completely blew off the popularity of Daniel Bryan as being a contributing factor to the boos he has been hearing lately, instead pointing towards his lack of independent wrestling experience before being hired by WWE:
"I don't think so. I don’t think I’m head butting with them, I feel like they are head butting me. I don’t do anything but go out there and bust my ass every single week. But that's the thing, I'm performing on the absolute highest level of entertainment. Nobody said it was going to be easy and we all know life isn't fair, so we can't base anything off of it being fair or not. It is what it is. What I like is the challenge, you know, for me. Even when I was with The Shield, I’ve always had the critics and I think a lot of it goes with the background of me not having that independent experience, especially being paired up with guys like Seth [Rollins] and Dean [Ambrose] because those guys man are journeymen. The things they had to do are second to none. The grind that they went through is awesome. That's why when it comes down to it, regardless of whether we are butting heads on camera or off, whatever, I have a deep love for both those guys or any guy who goes through that path. There are guys who are right now grinding on the independent scene that are going to make it in the WWE, they are going to get signed and hopefully I'm going to be able to fight them."
I'm sure he didn't mean it to come across this way, but labelling both Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins as "journeymen" comes across as rather condescending of their talent and under-appreciative of the help they gave him to get to his current position. If he hadn't been paired with the two best workers in NXT at the time, then his in-ring and verbal limitations would have been exposed much faster, and he wouldn't be headlining WrestleMania this year.
Pointing towards how much you bust your ass every week as a reason that any criticism of you is unfair is also clearly a red herring, as every driven star on the WWE roster does exactly that too. The problem isn't that Roman doesn't work hard, but that he has failed to connect with the fans as a rising star should. You certainly don't need experience on the indy circuit to get that connection with hardcore fans, but that training can be invaluable in teaching you how to get over in front of a variety of different audiences and what works and doesn't work for you.
Later in the interview, Reigns drew the analogy of acting and how people get picked for roles by directors that they may not truly deserve:
"I think we have a very strong hardcore fan base and they go in a bit deeper than just what the storyline is. One thing that kind of confuses me is [that] because it is a performance, it is a show, there is a storyline, when people start doing the 'He deserves this, He deserves that,' really did Brad Pitt deserved to be Achilles in Troy? It's a weird world that we live in, because it's very real but very scripted at the same time. It's a fine line, but in my opinion that's what makes it so neat. That's where the magic is to be able to get lost in it."
Where the analogy breaks down is that movie critics regularly criticise films where the wrong actor gets picked for the job. Perhaps most infamously, the inexperienced Sofia Coppola got absolutely slated for her performance as Mary Corleone in The Godfather Part III, a part many believed that she only got due to nepotism. The example Roman Reigns gave of a proven Hollywood heavyweight being given yet another starring role in a major blockbuster doesn't apply to his current situation, as he's unproven as a WrestleMania headliner.
That Roman doesn't recognise that he's closer to Sofia Coppola than Brad Pitt shows a stunning lack of awareness, which will only help to breed more resentment for him being handpicked as WWE's top star going forwards. That's not a positive sign for the crowd response to his WrestleMania 31 match at Levi's Stadium in two week's time, unless WWE calls an audible and turns him heel on the show.