WWE has 3 big stars in the making
WWE is about to have its kinda guys in big roles to draw money. Roman Reigns, Big E. Langston and Titus O'Neil are WWE guys.
All big guys. As the old rule would say, when they walk down a street or in an airport, you know they're someone special.
All athletically gifted with decorated collegiate athletic backgrounds. Reigns played football at Georgia Tech. Langston played football at Iowa before setting records as a powerlifter. O'Neil played football as a Florida Gator.
All WWE creations. None of them had established names in the wrestling world prior to WWE. They weren't underground favorites on the independent scene, and they weren't from other organizations or styles in other parts of the world.
All have risen to their respective occasions thus far without noticeable falter. There was no unprotected rush in their bookings, complaints from co-workers, backlash from the fans or indecisiveness, aka Ryback.
He was immediately made to be important while being protected. Labeled as the enforcer of The Shield, he was set up for success from the first attack on Ryback. He was aligned with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins who had far more wrestling experience than him. He shined as the muscle of the group with his size compared to them and his power moves he would use to top off the beat downs the group would give. He never did or said too much. He picked his spots and made his words or motions count.
Reigns is a member of the extended but successful heritage of Samoan wrestlers. The Rock, Yokozuna, Umaga, The Wild Samoans — all are relatives. A lot of advice around him and a lot of natural charisma in the blood line.
He's an easy bet to put your bottom dollar on. I don't think he knows how to fail.
Big E. Langston
He's a WWE dream. He's got massive strength, but in addition to that he contains an ability to be more than just a bodybuilder. His work in NXT prior to being promoted to the main roster showed this as he used the gimmick of beating his opponents with a five count. He's very fluid in the ring, something not always easy for a guy built like him. The athletic history he has stands out while he's in the ring with footwork and timing.
He can play both heel or face. From the moment he debuted as the heel bodyguard, I was counting the days until we got to see him as a face.
Now, as a face, he's holding the Intercontinental title. It seems he's going down the vintage company path toward an eventual world title reign. Oh, and John Cena really likes him. That can never hurt.
Langston seems like he'll always be a reliable hand for years to come. Healthy, respectful, can play either role and has learned quickly.
Similar characteristics as Reigns and Langston, but can excel the best with his ability to entertain verbally. Playing the cocky but comical babyface for the past few years in the Prime Time Players tag team has allowed the eldest of this group of big men to develop his character.
The tag team has been broken up, and O'Neil appears to be on the track of being one of WWE's next top heels. His in-ring work is good and that is probably the least polished aspect of his game, which will only continue to get better.
His first heel promo was last Friday on SmackDown backstage where he decided to host a comical and condescending interview with the normal host, Renee Young. A common complaint is too many guys not knowing how to talk for themselves. O'Neil is one of the few WWE talents who has as much freedom as he does to write his own material. O'Neil continues to show he has no issues or confusion of how to talk like Titus O'Neil.
Most simply put, he knows how to carry himself like a star.
What makes these typical WWE guys even more interesting is they have appeal to a portion of the audience who might otherwise rebel against WWE's philosophy on wrestlers based on size. The picky portion of the audience who usually goes against the grain of WWE and prefers the smaller wrestler with larger move set and more intense work rate. So far, people seem to be patient and intrigued on what these big men could offer the next era of WWE's roster. Or, at least, they aren't complaining about them. Baby steps.
So what does the immediate future hold for each of them?
I found out days ago that Reigns is a possible opponent at WrestleMania for Triple H. The Internet fans seemed to welcome this, partially because this would likely mean Daniel Bryan will be in the WWE title match, but there was also genuine excitement on Reigns getting this opportunity. If this happens, this will be the coming-out party for Reigns who will be over as a babyface with the WrestleMania crowd against Triple H.
Given the investment WWE has on him for the future, I wouldn't be shocked if he gets put over on the big event.
It's very possible WWE could unify the Intercontinental and United States titles. If that happens, Langston would be the prime choice to be the winner of the unified title. WWE has wisely not rushed any of Langston's main roster career but it has kept him relevant with television time. That's not always easy to do, but if it continues at this pace, Langston would be an interesting choice to consider as a winner for next year's Royal Rumble.
In a time when WWE lacks a lot of credible heels, O'Neil can fill this void. If built up properly, he could make a formidable and entertaining opponent in time for Cena, Bryan and eventually Reigns and Langston. The biggest challenge will be balancing him as a threatening heel while also allowing him to speak. His verbal abilities and personality inevitably will make him a babyface again some day.
Nonetheless, it's a good problem to have, something WWE needs more of.
Justin LaBar's wrestling insider column runs Monday and Friday on triblive.com.