Roman Reigns has the worst finisher in WWE right now. If they want people to start cheering him, that’s the first thing he’ll have to change.
Roman Reigns is supposed to be WWE’s next big cash cow. To fill that role, Reigns needs look as good as possible in his matches. While WWE has tried time and again to get the crowd to cheer for him, their attempts have led to even more boos from the audience. One reporter even called Reigns, “the most despised WWE wrestler in over 25 years”. Ouch.
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It doesn’t help Reigns’ cause that WWE has positioned him as a juggernaut that’s supposed to run through his opponents like a hot knife through butter. Literally, that’s how they’ve booked him to win his matches: by running up to his opponents and Spearing them. The problem with this approach is that the Spear is the worst finisher to give to anyone, much less the guy positioned as the next John Cena.
The problem with the Spear is its overexposure. The Spear might very well be the single most over-used finishing move in all of wrestling. It isn’t hard to see why: it’s both easy to execute and relatively safe for all involved, yet looks devastating on TV. It also looks like a more ‘legit’ move because it’s based to an extent on real shoulder tackles that you might find in other sports. Sadly, because of this move’s illusion of legitimacy, WWE have saddled a myriad of wrestlers with this move over the years.
Here’s a (somewhat) short list of WWE Superstars that have used the Spear, either as a signature move or finisher:
Goldberg – he executed the best Spear ever, because his version looked like it had considerable force behind it. It was this popularity that spurred WWE to overexpose the move years later.
Edge – he used it so much that eventually, he turned it into one of his chants. His supporters would chant ‘Spear’ during his matches, at times very loudly. But unlike Goldberg, Edge’s Spear looked much weaker as the years went by, to a point where his version looked more like a running abdomen hug than a tackle. That said, he did hit a lot of good ones, but that was more during the earlier part of his career:
Bobby Lashley – briefly used the move during his main-event push
Michelle McCool – used the move as a finisher of sorts during the late 2000s
Rhyno – he called it ‘The Gore’ and it looked great. The problem was, he was a perpetual mid-carder, so even if he used a great move, he never got anywhere with it, which devalued the move as much as it did the wrestler executing it.
Batista – he never used the Spear to end his matches, merely as a big move to use to get the crowd excited. At this point, the Spear REALLY started to get overexposed.
The Big Show – you would think that the sight of a 7-foot-tall, 500-pound man charging at you and driving his weight into your gut would be a powerful, match-ending move. But this is WWE we’re talking about. The Big Show did use the Spear in the same way as Batista, only to try and get the crowd to react more to what he was doing. Had they actually booked him to win matches this way, he probably would’ve become more popular, since it was amazing that he could do such a move in the first place.
Christian – after Edge’s retirement, Christian adopted his Spear as a tribute to his best friend. But as mentioned earlier, Edge’s Spear wasn’t the best, and Christian’s was worse. The key to a good Spear is that the person delivering the move needs to look big/strong enough to look like they could split someone in half with a Spear. Goldberg looked like this. As did Lashley. Even Batista and Big Show looked dangerous enough to annihilate someone with a Spear. But Christian? He was one of the smallest top guys in SmackDown history who barely looked like he weighed 200 pounds. How could fans expect someone so small to pin someone with a move that’s predicated on a large mass hitting another object as hard as possible, when that large mass (in this case, Christian, supposedly) isn’t that large, to begin with?
Kaitlyn – Remember Kaitlyn? The winner of the all-female NXT season 3 who held the Divas Championship for 5 months? Yeah, neither do we. She was pegged to be a big star in the Divas Division, and so she used the Spear as her finisher. The problem with this idea is that, much like Christian, Kaitlyn was a tiny person using a move that’s more dangerous the bigger you are. As a wrestler, I’d be terrified if, for example, Kharma ran at me and Speared me in the stomach. But Kaitlyn? Her doing the same move makes it virtually impossible for one to suspend their disbelief.
Which brings us to Roman Reigns.
Reigns’ version of the Spear it hit-or-miss. Sometimes, he does the same ‘running hug attack’ that Edge did, in that he’ll be facing a running opponent, but both stop running and collide in mid-air, resulting in a poor Spear that stops his opponent instead of Reigns pushing that person forward (as one would expect of a Juggernaut). He has executed a good Spear on a few occasions, but often, he’s being compared unfavorably to other wrestlers that have done the move better.
As an example, Goldberg delivered two spears onto Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series. Goldberg hadn’t wrestled full time since 2004. Both of his Spears were far better and more well-received than any spear Reigns has used in his career. That speaks volumes to both Reigns’ ability to execute the move, and his popularity with the crowd.
WWE wants Reigns to be established as a powerhouse on the show. The guy’s strong, so why not give him a finisher that compliments his strength, instead of putting him in the same category of wrestlers as Goldberg, to whom he will always be compared negatively? Reigns already does a lot of other moves that get a far better reaction than his Spear. Even his Superman Punch, easily one of the most overly-theatric and unrealistic moves in wrestling, is more popular than his Spear.
All WWE should do is listen to their audience. If they did, they’d realize that Reigns’ Spear is one of the major reasons the fans don’t like him. Let him evolve and try something else as his finisher. Because if Reigns continues to pretend he’s a Goldberg with long hair, he’ll still be hated.