I freely admit to only really paying attention to WWE PPVs and not watching any of the weekly TV. Leading up to WrestleMania there was a very heavy "Roman Reigns sucks" sentiment that I didn't quite understand. After WrestleMania I REALLY didn't get it and even though the Reigns hate has died down I wanted to go through some of his TV matches to see whether the criticism matched up to the work.
vs. Mark Henry - Raw 2/17/14
Super short match. The biggest takeaway from this is that Reigns was doing some goofy Edge like faces in the corner while setting up for the Superman Punch & the Spear that he seems to have toned way down. Also it seems like they have broken up the "wait in the corner for the Superman punch and then go and wait in the corner again for the Spear" set up that I remember not liking at the time.
vs. Kane - Smackdown 6/27/14
This is masked Kane with the stupid fake hair. I don't hate Kane but I DO hate "let's put the mask back on and pretend he's a monster again" Kane. I realize I am in the minority on that one but I don't think he should have ever put the mask back on and definitely not the way he's been doing it. I didn't watch these in order and Reigns is making some goofy faces here that he seems to not be doing any more. Randy Orton runs in for the DQ and yea this didn't do anything for me.
vs. Alberto Del Rio - Smackdown 7/25/14
I am starting to see where some of the backlash came from because they are beating the "eliminated 4 people at Survivor Series, broke the record for Royal Rumble eliminations" thing into the ground. This is very much a Del Rio match in that it is technically good but the crowd doesn't care and it feels heatless. I actually really liked this though, it was a nice hard hitting match and Reigns was not afraid to take some nasty bumps. He still does the really long "wait for the Superman Punch and then wait for the Spear" set up here but minus the goofy faces. I also though Reigns did a pretty good job in selling his arm here. Not in a "my arm is dead and I can't use it" way but a "my arm is bothering me but I'm gonna push through it" way.
vs. The Miz - Smackdown 8/15/14
Miz wants to "teach these new kids some respect" is the storyline to this match. That's good stuff. I actually enjoyed this way more than I expected. They work this match with Reigns pretty much just bullying Miz and not taking him seriously in the beginning and Miz being a cheap bastard and taking control for a little bit before getting murdered. The early part of this match was mostly schtick and I thought Roman showed a lot of charisma during it.
vs. Bray Wyatt - Smackdown 8/29/14
This is right after Cena made his post SummerSlam return and squashed Wyatt. I didn't really like this match. Wyatt kind of dominates the whole thing and when Reigns starts his comeback Harper & Rowan get involved for a DQ. Oh crap this is so very Smackdown that Mark Henry & Big Show make the save for Roman Reigns and the ghost of Teddy Long makes a 6 man tag main event between Reigns/Henry/Show vs. Wyatt Family. I'm not watching that though I've seen plenty of Roman Reigns in 6 man tags and I know he is good in them.
vs. Seth Rollins - Raw 12/29/14
This match is surprisingly heatless and Big Show is so good on commentary and the crowd is so dead that I'm having a hard time paying attention. Rollins is controlling with chinlocks and stomps and even The Miz brought more to the table than this. Roman does a really cool spot where he jumps over Rollins and rolls him up and then picks Rollins up from that position and slams him. That actually wakes this crowd up too. Rollins is back to the chinlock after a commercial break. Rollins hits a really cool combo where he takes out Reign's leg and then kicks him in the face when he's down on one knee. But then he's back to stomps and his 3rd chinlock of the match. Reigns brings some fire when he finally makes his comeback but the crowd is dead again by that point. Rollins cuts him off though and Rollins is frustrating to me. He will do these really awesome combinations & counters to take control and then do almost nothing while he's on top. They actually have a pretty hot little finishing stretch but Big Show pulls Reigns out of the ring as he's setting up for the Spear and causes a DQ. This was pretty long at about 13 minutes of TV time and a commercial break. It needed to either be shorter or Rollins needed to do something more interesting than a chinlock while he was in control. The good parts were really good though and I'm inclined to think these guys COULD have a really good match together.
vs. Luke Harper - Raw 1/12/15
This is a pretty fun big man brawl even if the match is kind of short. Roman Reigns isn't really regarded as a "stiff" worker but I like the fact that when he goes against heavy hitters like Harper or Lesnar he really lays it in. I appreciate the fact that he works to his opponents. Reigns is great at selling without doing over the top mannerisms, I loved him checking his jaw after a forearm shot from Harper. I liked the finish of Reigns hitting the Spear while Harper was coming in for his big clothesline. Reigns gets a lot of shit about only having 3 moves but that seems way off since he does like 2 different suplexes, a neckbreaker, a samoan drop among other things in this one.
I am going to come back to this and do some more but at this point I'm inclined to say the Reigns backlash was way overboard. I don't see where Reigns is somehow way behind guys like Ambrose, Rollins, Ziggler etc. as an in ring worker. I also think he's a guy that you can go back and see a clear progression over time and he's still getting better which isn't something I would say about a whole lot of guys in WWE right now.