Roman Reigns has been one of the most compelling character on WWE television ever since he returned from his hiatus last August, aligned himself with Paul Heyman and unveiled his long-awaited heel persona as "The Tribal Chief." Reigns closed out WrestleMania 37 earlier this month by decimating both Edge and Daniel Bryan, and many fans are predicting he'll keep the WWE Universal Championship up through WrestleMania 38 next year (possibly in a dream match with The Rock). John Cena sat down with Bleacher Report this week and praised the work Reigns has been putting in since turning heel.
"Roman is walking in his own steps, he follows in no one's footsteps," he said. "This happens every time a marquee attraction has moved on. I went through it, everybody said it with Steve [Austin] and The Rock and I understand that. But Roman is crafting his own path, and I think it's very important to say that he's doing a great job. I feel this is the best he's ever been and that comes with comfort. I don't know what got him over that hill, but he's over it and that's a very important one to jump over."
Cena explained that his own rise to the top of the WWE and Reigns' are similar in that they both embraced their own personalities in order to connect with fans.
"I just went out there comfortable with who I was and comfortable even if I failed," he said. "Taking brave choices and those brave choices haven't stopped and aren't stopping today as I continue to try to challenge myself. Roman has hit that point and that is, for audiences, a beautiful thing. Now he's going to challenge himself and entertain the audience in ways they didn't think he was capable of."
The 16-time world champion later talked about how impressed he is with how Reigns has handled the ThunderDome setting WWE has been stuck in since August (with Mania being the lone exception).
"I'm very, very impressed with Roman among other people on the WWE roster with how great they've become," Cena said. "I honestly think it may be because there's no live audience. This would be the toughest obstacle for me to overcome, but I really think it's brought the best out in people because they've had to redefine themselves and they can't feed off the energy of the audience on their performance. It's just them out there.
"Sometimes performers can go out there and falsely hear the noise," he added. "They hear a few people cheer and think it's fantastic. Now, they have to be in the product. They have to see their results and can't use that as a blindfold. It's actually brought the best out in people.