How Roman Reigns could have been what Vince McMahon wants him to be
I asked my Facebook friends a question a week or so ago. I asked them…who is the modern day Magnum T.A. …the man that debuted in 1978, as Terry Allen and captured the Global Tag Team Championship (in the NWA Florida territory) on five separate occasions with Scott McGhee, Dusty Rhodes, and Brad Armstrong. Shockingly, do you know who I believe could have been? Roman Reigns. I want to lay out my case as to why Roman isn’t the modern day Magnum T.A., but how and why he could have been. While popular (just like Roman Reigns was with The Shield) Magnum wasn’t pushed as a major singles star too quickly. The territories he worked in realized that while he was a good worker, attractive, and popular, that a slow build for a baby face was best suited. Allen eventually moved on to the Mid-South territory where he took on the name “Magnum TA.” While this wasn’t a major reinvention of who he was, it was a significant change, based on his good looks and the popularity of the TV show “Magnum P.I.” Still, it wasn’t until 1984 that Magnum captured his first major single’s title, the North American Heavyweight Championship. It took Magnum six years to win a major singles title…six years! Magnum only held that title for five months, then moving on to Jim Crockett Promotions. Magnum got a nice mid-card push with JCP, beating Wahoo McDaniel for the United States title, defending it for some time, before losing it to Tully Blanchard, to win it back in a brutal steel cage, I quit match. It was during this time that Magnum got a few World title shots, but never beat the champion, Ric Flair. Finally, in what many believed was a way to prepare Magnum for a world title run, he lost an amazing “best of 7” series of matches against Nikita Koloff, giving Koloff the United States Championship. Sadly, Magnum was in a crippling car accident shortly after, forcing him to retire.
Taking a look at Roman Reigns, one can see why Vince loves him so. From his size, to his looks, to yes…even his in ring ability, which isn’t as bad as so many say it is. The guy clearly has the “it” factor and Vince wants to exploit it ASAP. Therein lies the issue. While the fans supported Roman Reigns in The Shield, that didn’t mean that they saw him as the next big thing, not yet. Pushing Reigns as “the man” coming out of a disbanded Shield, would have been like Florida Pushing Magnum as their star after his team with McGhee, Rhodes, or Armstrong lost their tag titles. As popular as Magnum was then, that would have led to resentment like we see with Reigns for being pushed as such. Even when Magnum came into JCP, and was pushed hard on the midcard, with the United Sates title, he wasn’t instantly pushed as a threat to Ric Flair. He absolutely didn’t come into JCP by capturing the World title, let alone capturing it multiple times!
If Roman would have become a strong mid-card guy, coming out of the disbanded Shield, if he would have won the tag titles a few times, then the U.S. or I.C. title while challenging for, but just coming up short of the WWE title, if he would have backed up more popular stars as their buddy, their insurance policy, their friend, if he would have gotten new gear, a new entrance theme, and not walked through the crowd anymore, he could be today what Vince wants him to be. Roman Reigns could have been the next Magnum T.A. Instead he a borderline heel that the company wants to be a baby face, but they messed it up. The only answer is for Reigns to go completely heel and get support, as most modern day fans cheer, and support heels. Then he could slowly work his way back to honest baby face, and likely carry the fans with him, but I suspect Vince McMahon is far too stubborn to do that, even though that is clearly what worked for “The Rock.”
Today there has never been a wrestler like Magnum T.A. There could have been, but the WWE blew it.