Breaking down five insults from Reigns' verbal attack on Lesnar
Roman Reigns had a few things to say on Raw about Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, who failed to honor his scheduled appearance and meet Reigns face-to-face as their Road to WrestleMania begins. The Big Dog certainly did not hold back in a scathing indictment of The Beast Incarnate, targeting Lesnar’s cushy contract, his “entitlement,” and his perceived lack of respect for the business to which he belongs. But how many of Reigns’ insults hold water, and how many of them are just a result of his temper getting the better of him? WWE.com analyzed five of Reigns’ harshest comments toward the Universal Champion with a deep dive to see whether the heated emotion is sufficiently backed up by cold hard facts.
THE INSULT: “Brock Lesnar’s an entitled piece of crap who hides behind his contract”
THE ANALYSIS: We don’t have access into the inner workings of Brock Lesnar’s mind, so it’s hard to tell if he’s hiding behind anything. And look: No-showing a scheduled appearance isn’t a good look by anybody’s measure, especially in an industry that’s so founded on tradition. But Lesnar and Paul Heyman have taken a more modern approach to deal-making and have never been shy about flaunting the leverage that The Conqueror’s talent gives them when it comes to contract negotiations.
In other words, this is less like “entitlement” than your garden-variety holdout in a franchise player’s contract year. And make no mistake, Lesnar is the franchise player of the moment. He’s Raw’s reigning World Title holder, and Team Red management is more beholden to Brock’s whims than usual. (Unless they want to strip him of his title, but that’s a whole other can of worms.) Nevertheless, it’s a solid burn by The Big Dog, one that accurately plays into a perception many in the WWE Universe hold (don’t lie — we see your tweets) but would never voice aloud: That Brock Lesnar believes he can’t be touched.
THE INSULT: “Brock was in Vegas. He wasn’t at the Elimination Chamber. Guess where he was? He was running around the strip taking pictures with Dana White and the UFC on social media.”
THE ANALYSIS: This is less an insult than a statement of fact. The photos are out there if you know where to find them. In and of itself, this isn’t that big of a deal. As far as we know, Brock was not scheduled to appear at WWE Elimination Chamber, and his time is his own. Palling around with a rival promoter is a nasty bit of needling by The Beast Incarnate, but it’s not entirely unexpected: Lesnar is a force to be reckoned with at the bargaining table largely because he has no problem fielding multiple suitors for his once-in-a-generation talent. If Reigns loses at WrestleMania and Lesnar keeps on conquering, this part of the tirade will read more like sour grapes than anything else. But if The Big Dog wins and Lesnar walks away from WWE as he has done in the past, it will look like a prescient bit of tea-reading on the part of the embattled challenger.
THE INSULT: “He doesn’t respect me, he doesn’t respect any of you, and he doesn’t respect anybody in that locker room.”
THE ANALYSIS: Nothing new here, and nothing disputed; Team Brock has been pretty vocal about the low regard that Lesnar has for just about everybody else behind the curtain, Roman specifically, until and unless they give him a fight worthy of his time. (Heyman, for what it’s worth, has been far more willing to give credit where credit is due, though he never bets against his man.) As far as the WWE Universe goes, this might be a little bit of an exaggeration on Roman’s part — watch Brock’s face light up during those early “Suplex City” chants and tell us he isn’t at least a little moved — but he knows it’s tough not to cheer for Lesnar. In a fight where Reigns possesses a significant physical disadvantage, he’s smart to strike the first blow in the court of public opinion, where the verdict on The Big Dog himself has often depended on the day.
THE INSULT: “Brock just shows up whenever he wants to, when the money’s right or the city’s right”
THE ANALYSIS: Again, Lesnar is a prizefighter. He fights when he’s paid, and he’s never made any bones about this. It’s unusual in WWE, but it’s a privilege he earned on the back of his talent, and it’s his prerogative to avail himself of it. Given that Reigns does, indeed, travel the world and compete 300 days out of the year, the second half of this jab seems pretty damning on its face. But on closer examination, it might hold less water than Roman thinks it does. True, Brock’s appearances on Monday Night Raw are scarce, but he has very quietly become a semi-regular attraction on WWE’s Live Event circuit, competing in locations like Buffalo, N.Y., Tampa, Fla., Dallas, Salt Lake City, and New York City — places which, as far as we can tell, don’t have much of anything in common. He has also competed in Mexico City, Toronto and, in 2015, Tokyo, Japan. Nobody is ever going to confuse Reigns’ marathon schedule with Lesnar’s comparatively cushy one, but this past Monday was ultimately the rare exception where the Universal Champion didn’t show up when his number was called.
THE INSULT: “I don’t respect Brock Lesnar and I damn sure don’t fear that b---"
THE ANALYSIS: This checks out as far as factual statements go. But it bears repeating that just about everyone Brock has faced in recent years has said some variation of this, and the result has almost always been the same. It’s a testament to Reigns’ heart that he’s unmoved and unafraid, but the road to Suplex City is paved with Superstars who said the exact same thing, and April 8 will be the true test of whether his bark can match his bite.