WWE has experimented with presenting WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns as a hybrid of John Cena, Daniel Bryan, and most-recently “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
In mid-December, WWE had Reigns tear through chief authority figures Triple H and Vince McMahon on his way to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship the night after WWE TLC.
What does Austin think about the presentation, fifteen years removed from Austin warring with McMahon on a weekly basis during the “Attitude Era.”
“With him being champion, it’s going to remain to be seen how they book this guy,” Austin said on the PWTorch Livecast. “You’re talking about a guy whose work has really improved, but he’s got to be more aggressive and he’s gotta have a sense of urgency. Now, he’s defending that belt, not chasing it, but he’s still pretty green in that regard, especially with respect to holding a championship belt. Man, he’s really got some pressure on him with the fact that now he is the champion. Right now, he is their number one guy.”
Austin said the other part of the equation is now Reigns has to step up his in-ring game to match the position he’s in.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who you put him with, he’s got to shine and he’s got to do his half of the match. You know, you can book him with anybody, but now you’ve got to put on your big-boy trunks and have a badass match. Wanting to be the top guy is a goal that everyone should have, and wanting to have that championship belt is something everyone wants to aspire to.
“All of a sudden when you become that top guy or get that belt, it’s put up or shut up. It’s always good to have a goal, but when all of a sudden you’ve been kind-of prematurely pushed and kind-of rejected and then all of a sudden you’re the guy, now the pressure is on more than ever. All he’s got to do is shine, but the bottom line is he’s got to shine. He’s got to make chicken salad out of chicken scratch.
“He’s either going to sink or he’s going to swim. If you swim, you’ve got to swim back to the top. You can’t just fail. You can have roadblocks put in your way; you can have performances that aren’t so great. But, at the end of the day, you’ve got to get better and you’ve got to be able to turn those people on when the bell rings within a 15-20-minute time period and give them a reason to like what you’re doing.”