There are a number of reasons why their verbal battle has generated such an emotional debate - one of which is the notion it was ad libbed. Some have even gone so far as to say that not only were Reigns and Cena improvising, they were “shooting”, or using their real feelings about one another in their promos.
Unless you believe the two former WWE champs are also active internet commenters, AND that infamous micro-manager Vince McMahon would let even his biggest stars have free rein over one the most lucrative programs his company can possibly promote with the current roster, that always seemed a little far-fetched to me.
Now, someone with backstage sources confirms that The Big Dog and The Free Agent were saying what they were told to say. Here’s Dave Meltzer on the latest Wrestling Observer Radio (subscription required but recommended):
“This whole thing I mean it was all completely scripted, this was not John Cena and Roman Reigns shooting on each other, or trying to have a verbal duel... I mean this thing was completely scripted by the writers, it's not something where you know they let the guys go... this was a great John Cena promo, but this was exactly what they wanted.”
Meltzer does concede that Reigns’ fumble at “and second of all” which led to Cena roasting him with “go ahead, find it... it’s called a promo, kid, if you want to be the Big Dog you’re gonna have to learn how to do it” and joking about breaking the fourth wall probably wasn’t planned. But it’s the kind of flourish he could add without worrying about betraying the intent of the segment, seeing as he was going to run down Roman for not being good at his job anyway, and one of the big fan complaints about Reigns is poor microphone skills - especially for someone who’s supposed to be WWE’s top star.
The Observer isn’t right 100% of the time - no one trying to cover pro wrestling is. But this report makes a lot more sense than WWE deciding to go without a net at 10 p.m. ET for the most viewed portion of their weekly flagship.
So, let’s argue who got the better of the war of words, who will win at the pay-per-view (PPV) on Sept. 24, if this kind of “inside baseball” storyline brings in new viewers or just panders to a shrinking base, etc, etc, etc.
But let’s move on from thinking it was a “shoot”.