By former Lords of Pain 205 Live reWho Drviewer, “205 Clive“.
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Clive: Welcome back to another Wrestling Debate Club installment between Rance Morris and myself. Last time around, feedback (Rance’s) was that I got my backside thoroughly handed to me. Rance, we’ve gone for a less incendiary topic this time. So I feel the pressure’s off. The linguistic and rhetoric licenses with which I intend to do battle have more of a spring in their step compared to last edition’s weighty topic. What say you?
Rance: See, I don’t know what any of that last part means, and since I don’t, I’m gonna take it as disrespect. And yes, I do believe the consensus was that you pretty much got destroyed last time, but I still love you sir. Anyway, I’m excited about this debate. You’re still gonna get thoroughly eviscerated, but at least you have a puncher’s chance this time.
Clive: Unlike you, who has a Superman Puncher’s chance? Too soon? Will I just get my coat just now? Anyway, as you may have guessed from the top tier joke above, today’s topic is a look at the Tribal Chief himself, Roman Reigns. Rance believes him to be the “best in the world, bar none”. I, on the other hand, while still giving all deference to the Head of The Table™, believe Drew McIntyre has a solid claim for the same praise. Moreso, in fact, than he who bested him at this year’s Survivor Series. So Rance, the floor is yours. Have at it.
Rance: Well thank you sir. Ladies, gentlemen, and all of those in the IWC, I’d like to talk to you about the year 2020. A year which will go down as the hardest year in the world of wrestling ever. There have been no fans in arenas, multiple COVID outbreaks, massive wrestler cuts, #SpeakingOut, and multiple other controversies. However, I want to talk about the positives of this year. We had a fantastic Royal Rumble pay-per-view. The women have continued to up their game and be the main event. Storytelling is at an all time high. And while my opponent would like to attribute this to one man, I’d like to tell you that he’d be wrong in his assertion. While I give Drew McIntyre ALL of the credit of one of the best runs a wrestler could have under the absolute worst circumstances, he is not the best wrestler in the world currently.
No, that claim goes unequivocally…unilaterally…undisputedly to the “Best of the Best”, “The Head of the Table™”, your “Tribal Chief™”, and the Reigns-ing, defending, Universal Heavyweight Champion of the world…Roman Reigns.
Clive: Yes. 2020 has been an unprecedented year. And yes, Roman Reigns has been on the tear of a generation. Yet, it’s easy for us as fans to gravitate more-so towards a villainous wrestler. It’s a trope that’s grown arms and legs since the IWC became fully sentient in the online arena. On top of that, his current status is a new coat of paint, and is even in its infancy. What my pick Drew McIntyre has done, however, is be a strong, white meat baby-face who, shock-horror, has remained relevant and fresh. For now over a year. That is one of the rarest feats in wrestling.
It helps that his track record for quality PPV and TV matches sees him in many Match of the Year votes. It helps that his equal parts charm and threat have made drab, lifeless Performance Centre tapings into shows full of life. It helps, too, that he has stood toe to toe with a who’s who of WWE’s best and, resultantly, gives off the air of not a once and done world champion, but a main eventer who can be relied upon for years to come (maybe even years after Roman has left for Hollywood to collect all ‘dem Best Actor Oscars).
Rance: So let the record state that this will be, in no way, a contentious debate. I, too, believe fervently in the run Drew McIntyre has had and the way that he’s held the championship and the company together in one of it’s most trying years ever…that deserves all the commendations that can be given. So I don’t mention this next part maliciously.
Drew McIntyre, while being a strong, fearless, successful babyface WWE Champion was only able to main event two pay-per-views since he won the championship at WrestleMania 36. Those matches? A championship loss to Randy Orton at Hell In A Cell, and a loss to the man who I believe is the current “best in the world”, Roman Reigns.
If we’re comparing match quality, Roman hasn’t missed. If we’re talking about interest and storytelling, Roman has been flawless. And the separating point is success and card placement. Roman has not been pinned all calendar year, and has main evented every pay-per-view he’s been a part of – with the exception of Drew’s loss at Hell in a Cell.
The facts, while unfortunate for Drew, lean towards the Tribal Chief.
Clive: I can’t argue storytelling. This current Head of the Table angle is one of the most mature, REAL stories WWE has ever produced. That storytelling has been prevalent in-ring, too, afforded Roman, Jey et al, thanks to an in this instance fortuitous need for a controlled, sound studio environment. Though Drew’s matches have also been masterclasses in story. The Randy Orton feud was a wonderful battle in which Drew never looked out of place against a WWE legend in career form. The stipulation heavy Dolph Ziggler match which, on paper, read like a hot mess, but ended up an ingenious plot device to make Drew look exceptional. The fiery tempered Goliath Vs Goliath battle with Bobby Lashley. The tempering of Rollins at the turning point of his descent into insanity.
The key theme in Drew’s run has been variety. Creative threw a lot of the proverbial at the wall, and Drew ensured every last morsel stuck. Over a course of several months, might I add. Roman’s singular story, as great as it is, hasn’t yet wracked up enough of a body of work to consider his 2020 better than Drew’s.
I finally posit in this rebuttal the workrate comparison. Yes, I know, wrestling shouldn’t be about how cool your moves are. But as detailed above, Drew has incorporated several different wrestling styles into his game since April. And has shown himself to be a VERY dab hand it. (Vince-ism time:) each and every one of them.
Rance: I realize that most of this debate seems like splitting hairs. You truly can’t go wrong with saying that either Reigns or McIntyre is the best in the world currently. However, I feel that if we’re going to have this conversation fairly and completely, everything must matter. So, I’d like to bring up some facts that, while not in ring accomplishments, further eloquate my point.
Let’s go back to the Royal Rumble, the very moment that catapulted McIntyre into superstardom. While Brock’s elimination was THE moment of the match (and the night), you can’t ignore how hugely Drew was put over by eliminating Roman last. Roman, along with Brock, ceded some of his star power to Drew.
Roman also was scheduled to have THE main event for a 5th time at WrestleMania. His match VS Goldberg for the Universal Championship would’ve surely main evented Raymond James Stadium. Still, Roman is shown to be the bigger star.
Consequently, Roman opting out of the match due to his health in the midst of this pandemic was maybe the biggest move any wrestler made all year. Before Roman said no to WrestleMania, WWE was going full steam ahead, with all hands on deck. Roman’s absence led to WWE’s necessary willingness to allow superstars to stay home, and he was justified by the numerous COVID outbreaks in the company.
Also, and this is a minor point but one that brings me joy, but Roman seems to be the only wrestler in history to actually read his match contract. The Tribal Chief doesn’t get paid by the hour, as JBL is one to say. Let me not forget to mention that he has yet to be pinned or submitted all year. His only two losses have come by disqualification and in the Rumble.
Ultimately, I brought all of this up to remind the readers that Roman’s excellence hasn’t just been for half a year. Even while being active for less than two thirds of this calendar year, he was the most important star in and out of the ring. Match that with his Emmy-esque storytelling, his extremely high levels of match quality, and his ridiculous ability to elevate who he’s working with, and I think it’s a clear, concise answer.
With all respect to the unbelievable year that Drew McIntyre has had, I think that the title of the “Best In The World” deservedly should go to the man who already has a million nicknames. It should go to the “Best of the Best”,”The Head of the Table™”, your “Tribal Chief™”, and the Reigns-ing, defending, Universal Heavyweight Champion of the world…Roman Reigns.
Clive: It’s hard to find fault in much of what Rance says, to be honest. One could argue that Roman, through his life choices, paved the way for Drew’s success. From April onwards, at least, it was reactionary. But I firmly believe that the conception of The Tribal Chief ™ was also reactionary. For one couldn’t have Roman return in a similar role to that which Drew had already been doing with such critical success, as it would pale in comparison.
Whether by booking, fan acceptance, or overall command of an audience (both on screen and in front of a crowd), Drew was presented and accepted as a more universally accepted, strongly booked baby-face champion than Roman ever was. One can lose count of how many excellent wrestling villains there have been in the last ten years. The same simply cannot be said for wrestling’s heroes. And THAT is why I believe Drew’s work should be given more plaudits than Mr o’ the Table’s.
Clive: Well, ladies and janitors, this was another fun back and forth between Rance and myself. As per, my opponent has put forward such a strong argument that I question even starting such a project in the first place. But please, when deciding the victor of this debate, remember to consider the whole calendar year, over and above an admittedly hot Summer onwards. Rance, thanks for collaborating with me on this one.
Rance: You knew what it was when we got into this, my brother. But like always, it’s my genuine pleasure. Nobody could go wrong with either choice. Looking forward to our next debate.
Clive: Well, readers, that concludes this edition’s debate. Who is your favourite wrestler between Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns? Who had the better argument? Was your opinion even swayed the more you read on? Let us know in the comments or on social media. Thanks for reading!