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LaBar: Memo to Roman Reigns' haters

| Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, 10:03 p.m.

I feel bad for Roman Reigns.

There is a vocal portion of the audience who doesn't think he's good in the ring. They think this because Reigns doesn't do as many eye-catching moves as the underdogs.

He's one of the guys WWE is building its future around. If this was 20 years ago, there would be no argument about Reigns. He has a good look, passion and respect for the business. Unfortunately for him, today's fans have been exposed to a lot of different styles.

The most vocal portion of the audience doesn't know how to handle these styles. This is the same portion who thinks a guy is good in the ring only if he moves at a steady, quick pace and does a lot of moves. I'm fine with that being their preference, but they take it from preference to gospel of what is good.

I love watching Dolph Zigger or Daniel Bryan, but I also have an appreciation for a guy like Reigns who doesn't wrestle the same way they do.

Some wrestling fans need to come to terms with what they want. Do they want to watch a story get told in a wrestling ring or an exhibition of moves on a trampoline?

Ziggler and Bryan know a lot of moves, transitions and styles. They do it all while still telling a story. They are special and unique. However, if everyone performed like them, it wouldn't be special and unique anymore. This doesn't make other styles wrong or bad.

Fans have a right to not like Reigns' character, but I'm tried of fans telling me on social media he's terrible in the ring.

Reigns can motion his fist like it's loading a gun, run, jump and hit his opponent with a punch to the face that is called the “Superman Punch.” When he does this, the crowd reacts in a big way. When his music hits, the crowd reacts in a big way as he walks through them to get to the ring. They react, and that's the name of the game.

Ziggler and Bryan aren't physically imposing like Reigns is. So what they lack in size they make up for with athletic moves and high energy in the ring. Reigns' size and look that would stand out in any public place mean he doesn't have to do the same high-energy sequences all the time. He carries a different box of tools.

Reigns can pick up the pace. We see him run on the outside of the ring, jump and dropkick his opponent's head that is resting on the rings ropes. I'd never seen this spot done the way he does it. He can pick up the pace and do things unique at the right times when he needs to.

I'm unsure if the negativity — that I know is coming only from a particular vocal type of fans — is geared to Reigns because of his style in the ring or because he's a guy WWE wants to push.

This same portion of fans likes anybody who is an underdog. Ziggler, Bryan, Zack Ryder, Cesaro, Tyson Kidd and the list goes on. If WWE isn't pushing them to the moon, the fans rally in this anti-authority like rebellion. Sometimes I agree with it. Sometimes I don't.

Anybody who WWE obviously wants to try and commit to, these same fans push away. Ryback is one of the most passionate people in the locker room about succeeding in the business. But if WWE makes it known they want to see him be one of their stars, then he's being forced on us. Same is said about Reigns.

This isn't relevant to the entire WWE Universe. Again, it's the portion of the audience who sees a lot of different styles in the ring and can't separate that the style or wrestler that might be their least favorite doesn't equate to that wrestler or style not being good. If the style and wrestler can connect with the audience in telling the story in the ring, mission complete.

I'm tired of hearing “this guy can't work” and “that guy can't work.” If a guy successfully can carry the match and story from start to finish while being entertaining, than he can work.

Reigns is continuing to improve in the ring just as every young guy should be. He's continuing to sculpt who the Roman Reigns character is. His ability to communicate on the mic will improve as time and experience goes on.

The most important thing that can't be debated is arenas full of fans are reacting in a big way to Roman Reigns.

Justin LaBar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jlabar@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JustinLaBar.

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