WWE tried for years to get Reigns over as a babyface, portraying him as ‘The Big Dog’, but it just really didn’t work.
Roman didn’t look as cool as he does now, and was certainly nowhere as composed on the microphone as he is today.
That was evidenced during a 2017 promo battle with none other than John Cena, the man he was being pencilled to replace as WWE’s top star.
The pair shared the ring for one of the most memorable WWE segments in recent memory, a contract signing in August 2017 for their big match at No Mercy the following month.
The promo battle makes for some brutal viewing, with Cena absolutely ruining Reigns with several savage lines.
As we mentioned, Reigns wasn’t as comfortable on the mic as he is now, and to be fair, it showed with how he delivered his promo
Cena smoked him with some brutal lines, including saying that WWE only continued to bring back because Reigns wasn’t getting over.
The 16-time World Champion, as you can see above, called Reigns a “corporately created John Cena bootleg”, a line that went over well with the fans.
However, most brutal came towards the end of the promo, when Reigns appeared to stutter over his words, which Cena picked up on.
Cena said that if Roman wanted to be “the big dog” he’d have to learn how to cut a promo, after saying it took him over five years to cut a good one.
In fact, you can tell from the clip below, that Reigns was quite embarrassed with just how brutally Cena was smoking him in his promo.
Reigns has come a long way since then, and as we covered earlier, now feels like one of WWE’s best talkers in his role as ‘The Tribal Chief’.
Seriously, if you want to see how far Reigns has come in five years, check out his brutal battle with Cena.