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  1. #1
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    A Reigns Being Knight: A Star Wars Story



    Don’t worry. This isn’t one of those “let me tell you what’s wrong with Roman Reigns” columns, as if there is only one clear way to hate on a concept and one person alone has cracked the code and then speaks on behalf of everyone like wrestling is one big bee hive and they’re the queen. But I am going to talk about why Roman Reigns isn’t working out for me specifically right now, and maybe by the end of this you’re going to figure something out about yourself too. Or maybe not, who cares really?


    Adventure movies come in several packages: Man vs God, Man vs Nature, Man vs Super Natural, or Man vs Monster, so on and so forth, or often times a mod podge of all of them. To illustrate my point, we’re going to talk about the Man vs Monster plot. Basically, we’re going to talk about the hero on his way to slay the dragon and win the treasure. Oh, there’s always a dragon. There must be a dragon. Yes, the adventure is what it’s all about, but the adventure is pointless if the hero doesn’t overcome some giant obstacle that puts the whole story into perspective like a dragon or McDonald’s customer service or hangers that tangle themselves together. There’s Bilbo and the dragon. The white knight and the dragon. Double Dragon and movie critics. This is all boring, I know, and I might as well be talking in tongues right now, so let’s switch out hero with Jedi, dragon with Death Star, and treasure with either Princess or freedom. Take your pick on that last one because it doesn’t matter.


    In this case, we’re going to talk about A New Hope only. One specific movie. This doesn’t work if you take all three original movies, because in the trilogy the story is a three-act structure that follows a rags-to-riches, man versus technology, man vs authority, rebirth and tragedy formula, and if we try to digest all that right now we’re going to be here all day. I mean, I’m fine with that but I understand you guys have “lives” and I’m putting quotes around that word because I don’t understand how quotations work, and dammit I want to talk about Star Wars all day.


    In A New Hope, Luke Skywalker starts out as an insufferable whiny farm boy and ends the movie as a cocky but insufferable whiny space pilot. He’s a flat character. There’s literally no character development. The story doesn’t happen because of him; it happens around him. Luke represents Every Man (or Every Teenager) as George Lucas viewed teenagers at the time. Annoying but secretly starving for adventure. The Empire does kill his Aunt and Uncle, but it wasn’t because they knew who Luke Skywalker was. He just happened to have the droids they were looking for, Kenobi, you liar. The Empire does kill Obi Won Kenobi, but not because he was training Luke, but rather because Darth Vader wanted to kill his old trainer. Vader had no idea who Luke was throughout the entire movie, and the movie ended with Vader still having no idea who Luke was and Luke isn’t even the one who shoots Vader out of the way. Keep in mind that we’re viewing this as one single movie, so Luke wasn’t Vader’s son. He was just some kid who had good aim. But, from beginning to end, Luke is “us,” then Luke is thrown into an adventure he reluctantly went on, then terrible stuff happens to Luke, then Luke faces the Death Star, and now he’s free to hook up with his sister. But, this is what we expected in 1977. Star Wars was a masterpiece in that decade. The hero wasn’t anything special at any point in the movie, other than he just happened to have a magic that he didn’t earn and wasn’t the point of this movie but that was okay. Luke did go on an adventure, and the adventure was fun, and he did defeat the dragon (kind of), and he did win the princess, and he did learn something. That’s just how movies were for decades.


    That’s why Hulk Hogan was a success to me as a child. The character of Hogan wouldn’t work today after 2 decades of being told 2D characters don't work. They’ve tried it and it just doesn’t fly. Some guy who talks about strictly America, beats up foreigners, praises HBK’s former tag team partner God and wants me to take vitamins? Like, get out of my personal life, buddy. That’s a flat character. Yes, sometimes he had different stories playing like his Macho Man feud, but Hogan went in Hogan and came out Hogan. But, that’s what we expected back then. Our hero was our hero and if he eventually beat the dragon and won the treasure that’s all that mattered.


    Then, 1994 happened. Disney had enough of this flat character lead and said, “Yeah, but what if our hero also listened to Simple Plan?” And just like that, we have Aladdin. Aladdin is a rags-to-riches story, but also man versus monster story, and man versus super natural story, but more importantly than that, we’re introduced to a new kind of threat. Man versus Self. Yes, Man versus Self has been done since the beginning of time, but it we’re talking about Disney here. The standard of standards, and for decades, the standard was that the princess was a worthless bag of human-being clichés and things happened around them and not because of them. Basically, it was Luke, but the dragon was typically slayed by a man because swords are too heavy for weak shitty women, so it would be like if Han Solo showed up to win the battle for Luke so that Luke could sh—Oh yeah. Shit, that did happen. Okay, so Luke was the princess in a Disney movie, but never mind that.


    But Aladdin changed all that. Not only was the main character a man in a Disney blockbuster, he was a man broken on the inside. He hated himself for who he was, not where he was. It would be like if Cinderella wasn’t just sad about being a slave, but also sad about being looked at as a slave, which she wasn’t in the movie. She just wanted laid for life and the whole freedom thing came after indirectly. The lesson that she learned was that slippers are not good for running. Aladdin wanted to be a better class of person and was willing to change who he was to get it, lie to those he cared about, and at some point, his friends turn their backs on him because he refuses to stop being a dick licking machine. The moral of the story is to be comfortable with who you are and some day you’re going to bang a princess. Okay, that princess part probably wasn’t really part of the lesson but it’s hard to overlook how the woman became the trophy in this story. And Jafar knew who Aladdin kind of was, but only because he was conveniently needed for Jafar to get the magic lamp and literally nothing else. At the end of the movie, Jafar is considered the dragon but only because he exposes Aladdin as being poor to Jasmine and that other stuff about giant snakes and flying castle towers gets swept under the rug because Aladdin really had no problem dodging every attack eventually tricking him into living in a lamp, but dammit he told Jasmine about his inner conflict. Even during the epic battle, Aladdin runs to Jasmine to apologize for being broken inside after he was exposed as a liar instead of focusing on the giant fucking sorcerer part. Like, it should have been “I’m sorry I lied about being a prince, but more importantly I’m sorry I left my magic lamp unguarded and now your rapist advisor is the most powerful wizard in the world because that’s what’s important here really.”


    But that’s the story structure Disney wanted. An adventure that focused more on the search for identity than the adventure itself, because that part could be replaced with BOOM BLAW KABOOM and no one would care. They’re the standard setters, remember, so now other movies are coming out to copy and paste the same story but with missing clown fishes and Tim Allen as a space toy instead. However, something else was happening, too. I’m unsure if this was intentional or not, because it seemed to happen over time and not necessarily at one specific point, but villains started to become conflicted too. Eventually, it was just implied the villain had to be a central part of the story as well, specifically if the villain is human or humanized like a talking dragon or dildo or I’m sorry I don’t watch kid shows anymore, or the villain didn’t have to be there at all, but there could be nothing in between. Like Zootopia which was really a buddy cop movie that threw in a villain at the end for giggles. Moana had a villain, kind of, but the real point was that the villain was a red herring for another villain and by then the villain hadn’t had enough development as the villain for anyone to care and that’s why you won’t be seeing him on any posters any time soon. It was a twist, sure, but what is this a Russo story, am I right haters? High five! The story was just Pocahontas again, but slightly less racist and sexist so it has that going for them. That’s nice. But the point is the villains either had to be virtually non-existent or complex.


    So now we have The Force Awakens. And again, we’re looking at this film only. We’re not looking at The Last Jedi or where we think they’re going with this. Just one movie. A movie about our foreigner hero trying to find her identity and- OH, FOR FUCKS SAKE. But this time there’s a twist. The villain is also trying to find his identity. See, we as wrestling fans know this more than anyone, but the best villains are the villains who feel conviction in what they’re doing. The villain, Kylo Ren, wants to be like his Granddaddy Darth Vader but there’s an inner conflict in him to be good. He struggles to murder his father Han Solo spoiler alert. But deep down, he believes ending the Jedi is the right thing to do. Conversely, Rey doesn’t like being who she is, and much like Luke, is a whiny metal farmer who is insufferable to people but thirsts for adventure. However, by the end of the movie she presumably falls in love (maybe like a brother) with Finn and is devastated when Han Solo dies spoiler alert. So, devastated, in fact, that she fills up with rage and swings madly without direction at Kylo Ren. And, you know, rage is the path to the Dark Side and whatnot. Kylo Ren, the villain, also cries when he kills Han Solo spoiler alert, but he refuses to kill Rey. He insists she join him. In fact, Rey wins the battle because she’s on the offensive and he stays in the defensive, only swinging to parry her attacks and trying to capture her, not kill her. He even stops to ask her to join him, offering to be her trainer. This moment reminds Rey that she’s a Jedi, not a Sith or Dark Force user or whatever, and she takes a moment to collect her thoughts and emotions, and its at that moment she manages to unarm Kylo using the light side of the force. Keep in mind, Kylo is going out of his way to not kill her. There’s still conflict inside even when the dragon has been beaten. The story goes on. The Death Star (Star Killer Death Base Happening) is blown up but we learn that Rey goes on a trek to find Luke Skywalker so she can find out who in the hell she is, and Kylo is on his way to finish his training because he murdered his father Han Solo spoiler alert which leads us to believe his conflict is finally over. The movie ends with the two separating, the base blowing up, but Rey is still unhappy with who she is, but wiser and stronger for it. We’re led to believe that in the next movie she is going to be a new, stronger person (and she is, by the way, fight me over that.)


    Okay, so what the fuck does this have to do with Roman Reigns? He’s a flat character straight out of the 1977s. He’s the Luke Skywalker of the WWE, except instead of blowing up the Death Star he’s flat out murdering Braun Strowman and learning absolutely nothing from this. He would have been huge when that was acceptable. There’s no doubt in my mind that Roman Reigns would have been a huge deal in the 1970s-1990s. The guy has everything on a personal level. But the writing… the writing just isn’t there. Roman Reigns started his movie as a cocky asshole, and one after another his movies end with him being a cocky asshole who learned nothing. His character consists of telling the audience that he can beat anyone. But when he gets beaten, his promos are basically, “Yeah, Brock beat me, but Brock can’t beat me.” He can’t even acknowledge that he lost or that he learned something about himself or the situation that proves to me that the next match will be even better.


    To put this into another contrast, we have Stone Cold Steve Austin. Stone Cold was a solid, strong, well thought out and realized character. He evolved with each story. His three act structure was divided up into many other three act structures, because his real story was Austin versus McMahon, but inside that story was Austin versus Rock, Austin versus Triple H, Austin versus Paul Wight, Austin versus the guy who threw him his beers. His character was a tough, beer swilling, redneck who sometimes did good guy things, but it was almost always for personal gain. However, there’s one segment that still stands out in my mind. Sable had been rehired by Vince McMahon but was being demeaned in front of the whole world right in the middle of the ring. Then the glass breaks and you know shit is going down. It makes you wonder what the hell Stone Cold is going to do to poor Sable to get to Vince McMahon. A stunner? An unexpected clothesline? No, he props the ropes down for Sable to safely walk through and gets her out of harms way and then he goes on to Vince McMahon. That’s called character development. This guy is ruthless, yes, but also a gentleman. He has morals and ethics. Steve Austin is Rey from The Force Awakens except not as sexy… okay, just as sexy.


    On the flip side, Roman Reigns once cut a promo with Renee Young as the interviewer where he gave off a creepy rape vibe as he called her “baby,” and I can’t remember entirely, but I’m pretty sure he clotheslined her with his erection while Michael Cole shouts, “THA BIG DAHG.” There’s zero character development here because we already knew he was a cocky asshole and he’s reminding the crowd that despite whatever struggle he’s in right now he’s going to stay a cocky asshole, and any character development that happens over time is completely unwarranted. Like the time WWE put Roman Reigns over on Smackdown to build him up as John Cena 2.0 (who by the way, did develop as a character,) and someone told him he was funny, so he tried to do comedy for a few weeks. Sufferin’ succotash that was bad, but at least it was a development. But the WWE realized they can’t be caught evolving his character, so they reverted him back to cocky asshole. Phew, that was a close one. I’m sure whoever told him he was funny got a Superman Punch and the promo, “Yeah, you told me I was funny when I wasn’t, but you can’t beat me.”


    And even right now, the WWE is trying to pull the Stone Cold angle over the fans using Roman Reigns as a Stone Cold cardboard cutout. And notice that I said Stone Cold, not Daniel Bryan. Stone Cold started the “man vs authority who doesn’t believe he fits the image” story, not Daniel Bryan, you goldfish. But the reason this isn’t working for me is because Stone Cold (and, sure, Daniel Bryan) were being told they weren’t good enough and they fought to prove they were because they had something to prove still, where Roman Reigns is told he’s not good enough, but Reigns thinks he’s better than everyone else already anyway so it’s not the same fucking thing. I can’t relate to that. I don’t think I’m better than everyone. I know WWE is trying to capitalize on this “millennials think their shit don’t stink” fad right now by having Reigns relate to them in that way, but it’s not working because that fad is just mass hysteria, and did I mention IT’S A FUCKING FAD? I mean, you might like it. I don’t know. I don’t like it, and that’s the point.


    This is the reason most people want him to turn heel. They’re saying its because the best babyfaces were heels first. Okay, yeah. But the real it worked out is because turning someone heel is a cheap, lazy but effective way to create a character development where there probably isn’t any. They feel at least a little bit relatable now because something finally happened to their character. The Rock goes from a doofy babyface, but then he turns into an activist which makes sense. He still acted like Rocky but mad and vindicated. Then he becomes a good guy because reasons, but finally he joins the Corporation and becomes a sellout. So, when he finally turns into the good guy, it’s because the bad guys turn on him and we find out he’s not some jellyfish who goes with it and his character must evolve into something more likeable to now be the good guy.


    There’s no story here. None. I don’t care how they dress it up. Putting a dress on a mannequin is still a mannequin. Portraying Brock Lesnar as a dragon so that Roman Reigns can finally slay him doesn’t work because there wasn’t an adventure to get there. There’s no three act structure because there’s no fucking character. None. Roman Reigns is a cocky asshole to start to the feuds, then when he wins, he smirks like a douche canoe and that’s the story. Yay, glad I waited for that. I’m one of those people who realize that wrestling is a drama TV show and not a sport, so I don’t stomp my feet and pout when the “wrong person wins,” so what I’m waiting for is a similar pay-off. What changed about Roman Reigns? What lesson did he learn? This isn't a story. You can't just say, "so this guy was walking down the street and WATCH OUT A DRAGON but then he won and now everyone loves him." That's not a story, and even though he beats the dragon and the dragon battle might be cool to watch, no one is invested in the guy and no one cares what happens after because no one learned anything new about his character, or the events, or the match, or algebra. What new personality trait did we discover about Reigns? Why did I sit through weeks of this story when there’s no resolution? Oh, you thought winning was a resolution? In a fake sport? Roman please stop cocking your arms I’m trying to ask you some serious questions. Stop. It’s not a gun, its just a wrist. I just want to know what your gimmick is. Why did you just punch the ground? OH. MY. GOD.


    Roman Reigns just Superman punched and killed Kylo Ren’s father Han Solo spoiler alert!
    Last edited by TimRose; 05-16-2018 at 12:59 AM.

  2. #2
    LOP's part time glass ceiling DynamiteBillington's Avatar
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    This wasn't what I expected when I opened the thread, but it was a good read. I think I was expecting more of a creative column putting Reigns into the Star Wars Universe rather than merely citing Star Wars as one of a few examples why Reigns isn't working. That last paragraph sums things up nicely - a story without any build isn't a story, this column raises a really good observation.

    Don't think I remember your name from before the forum reset, are you new? If you are, this was excellent as a first outing.

    And my girlfriend has a large bag of hangers that I occasionally have to untangle, so that reference made me chuckle
    Last edited by DynamiteBillington; 05-16-2018 at 06:55 AM.

  3. #3
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    Avery, this is freakin' awesome, and it's lame that it doesn't have more feedback yet. Some of the dissection of how mainstream stories/heroes have evolved over the years was familiar, some wasn't, but it was all brilliantly laid out and tied perfectly into the difference between Reigns and Austin. And it's amazing because even with Hogan, at least they actually gave him something to be sad and then fired up about, even if it was mainly just him getting betrayed over and over by his best friend and overcoming an (often brief) period of depression/reconciliation attempts before switching gears to overpowering ass kicker. Between Orndorff, Andre, Savage, freakin' Tugboat... ok, they may have gone to that well one too many times, but you get the idea. There was a journey, an adventure. Now Reigns just shows up and smirks and, as you say, even if he loses it doesn't seem to matter to him at all. Even Cena would sell being sad about a loss for at least a day before blowing it off.

    So yeah, honestly I loved this. Glad to see you made it back after the reset, hoping to see more of your stuff in the near future!

  4. #4
    Senior Member LWO4Life's Avatar
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    This is a great point to make. You using the Star Wars movies as examples, plus Aladdin was easy for me. Me seeing Aladdin in the theater in 1992, it was immediately my all time favorite Disney movie. His complexities were so real for a poor child in San Bernardino, CA, that I couldn't help but see myself in him. You are right, if it was just a simple I want to be rich story, it wouldn't have worked, he needed to hate himself for being poor, and willing to lie to get out of his situation. When it comes to stories, as children, we learn good stories from bad from Disney. So while my 80's child self was content with Hogan, I was also content with Luke Skywalker, Rocky vs. a Russian (I didn't see Rocky 1 or 2 until I was older, but Rocky 3 and 4 were basically superhero movies), I know kids today are growing up with more complex stories. Hell, even Avengers just got really, really, complex. So fans today expect more, and it's great you brought in so much more to show the world around and brought it into why Reigns isn't over.


    I would say the same thing about other sports figures as well, but they aren't scripted like WWE, so their own personal story isn't important to them winning titles. With Reigns though, and wrestling, we've seen that character development in wrestling since the mid-90's. I know it was a negative character development, but D-X Shawn Michaels to me was the best Shawn Michaels of the decade. The original heel HBK was a dick, so when they tried to turn him face by having him fake the concussion, and then the boyhood dream, I wasn't buying it. But once he turned back to a dickish heel, but he really came out and was his true drugged out authentic self, I was completely sold. My favorite, Eddie Guerrero, by the time he won that WWE title from Brock Lesner, the story of redemption was so strong that I know I almost cried when he won. It was pure pride and joy. Where is Reign's development. Even Rollins and Ambrose have developed since the SHIELD split, they've changed gear and they've added more to their character. Reigns is still, Reigns. And that's not good enough anymore. What makes Roman Reigns the Big Dog? After all these years, I still don't know.

  5. #5
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    At this point, is Reigns just the Transformers movies? They suck and there's no reason for anything, but they still somehow make the studios a lot of money, so who cares.

    Great read, mate.
    Last edited by Pringle; 05-17-2018 at 07:29 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by DynamiteBillington View Post
    Don't think I remember your name from before the forum reset, are you new? If you are, this was excellent as a first outing.
    I've been here for a day or two. I went by Avery, then I went by TimR because I wanted my name to be relatively short. But now It's just Tim Rose, because that's my name. Thanks for the feedback and I'm glad you enjoyed it.


    Quote Originally Posted by mizfan View Post
    Avery, this is freakin' awesome, and it's lame that it doesn't have more feedback yet. Some of the dissection of how mainstream stories/heroes have evolved over the years was familiar, some wasn't, but it was all brilliantly laid out and tied perfectly into the difference between Reigns and Austin....

    So yeah, honestly I loved this. Glad to see you made it back after the reset, hoping to see more of your stuff in the near future!
    Thank you for the kind words. Yeah, and you know me, I'm very story driven. When there's no story... yawn. People give WWE a hard time for hiring Hollywood writers instead of former wrestlers or producers, but honestly, storytelling has changed and what worked back then would only work now if written in the way people expect stories to go now. In fact, we've seen it happen before and found out how flat it can be with the Roman Reigns vs McMahon if the character isn't a complex as Steve Austin. But that's also just me.


    Quote Originally Posted by LWO4Life View Post
    This is a great point to make. You using the Star Wars movies as examples, plus Aladdin was easy for me. Me seeing Aladdin in the theater in 1992, ...

    Where is Reign's development. Even Rollins and Ambrose have developed since the SHIELD split, they've changed gear and they've added more to their character. Reigns is still, Reigns. And that's not good enough anymore. What makes Roman Reigns the Big Dog? After all these years, I still don't know.
    Oh damn, shots fired. You're right it was 1992. Where did I get 1994 from? Yeah, that's one thing that annoyed me about the Roman Reigns/Shield split. Ambrose and Seth went on to film the sequel to the blockbuster film The Shield, and Roman Reigns went on to do Jingle All the Way 2. It had nothing to do with the previous film. It was the exact same character written by someone who clearly didn't watch the previous film. The villain had stronger convictions than the hero. Ambrose was mad at Seth for his personal attack and a change in his character, so Ambrose adjusted his character appropriately. Roman Reigns went after Triple H specifically because we knew he was being promoted to the main events and that was it. Reigns even said, "I'll deal with Seth later" in a promo, similar to Terrence Howard looking at the Iron Man suit and saying, "next time baby." Then the character gets downgraded, the actor gets replaced, and he does end up putting on the suit but it is for completely different reasons than the foreshadowing from the previous movie. Roman Reigns does go on to feud with Seth Rollins, but its apart of a whole new movie and we're not even referenced to the first movie. Ugh. Thanks for reading man.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pringle View Post
    At this point, is Reigns just the Transformers movies? They suck and there's no reason for anything, but they still somehow make the studios a lot of money, so who cares.

    Great read, mate.
    It's funny that you mentioned that, because there's a line I used where I said Luke was written because of how George Lucas sees teenagers, and originally I compared it to the douchebag characters that Michael Bay writes because he feels that relates to the audience, basically saying that Michael Bay thinks the average person is a douchebag. But I deleted it because I felt like adding another movie was overkill. But I should also mention that I don't personally care if the majority of people do like Roman Reigns. I don't care that he does sell tickets or that he does move merchandise. Or that his YouTube views trump anything else on their channel. If Roman Reigns was universally loved, my opinion of him right now wouldn't have been any different. Like I said in the beginning, this article is about my personal dislike of the Roman Reigns character and doesn't reflect why I think anyone else doesn't like him. After all, I don't work for WWE and I don't own any stock in the company, so how successful he is in all those measurable things doesn't benefit me. Whoo, that was a bit of a rant. Thanks for reading and for reading my mind about Transformers, man.

  7. #7
    LOP's part time glass ceiling DynamiteBillington's Avatar
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    I've been here for a day or two. I went by Avery, then I went by TimR because I wanted my name to be relatively short. But now It's just Tim Rose, because that's my name. Thanks for the feedback and I'm glad you enjoyed it.
    I remember those names!!

  8. #8
    Senior Member LWO4Life's Avatar
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    Avery, now it all comes together!

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    I think WWE is possibly asking us to almost create our own story around Reigns, whatever that may be. Realistically his character has gone nowhere especially - although I enjoy the current petulant child who acts out when he doesn't get his way stuff far more than anything else - and that does hurt it overall. I suppose the thing should be that he shows some contrition, or at least accepts his faults, from time to time but he doesn't. Instead he just keeps on powering on. I suppose that comes back to Aladdin and Man vs Self. Maybe they should make Reigns have internal conflict or something, I don't know. Perhaps a losing streak? Can he pull that off?

    Really great stuff here, man, from top to bottom. Excellent work, for sure.

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