John Cena and Roman Reigns opened up SmackDown this week with a segment that still has fans talking. The two SummerSlam opponents threw some serious shots at each other, including a mention to Dean Ambrose and Nikki Bella. This was a powerful segment that also stands as a rare example of Vince McMahon trusting people enough to have creative freedom on his television program.
As we exclusively reported, Roman Reigns and John Cena had no rehearsal time prior to SmackDown this week. In fact, they stayed away from each other. This was on purpose and it also brought a big reaction backstage.
Ringside News was told that the John Cena and Roman Reigns’ segment was a “sellout” at the monitor backstage. The two laid into each other and took several personal jabs, bringing out genuine reactions in the process.
Michael Kirschenbaum was the writer assigned to the segment, but he didn’t actually write what was said. Instead, John Cena took care of his part as Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman both worked on what the Tribal Chief was going to say.
A tenured member of the creative team told us that Cena and Reigns decided to stay away from each other before going out on purpose. They did not even see each other in Gorilla Position before going out for the segment. Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman took their time arriving in the Gorilla Position to make sure of this.
We were also told that Vince McMahon “loved” the segment and how far both Cena and Reigns went to maintain those genuine reactions. Kirschenbaum, the assigned writer on the segment, handled cues and music, because he had to inform Vince McMahon what would be in the segment. Meanwhile Jamie Noble was on headset as the segment’s producer.
The segment had an assigned writer, but the creative credit goes to John Cena, Roman Reigns, and Paul Heyman for bringing it all together. It was also noted to us how rare it is for Vince McMahon to allow this kind of setup, but it also shows how much he trusts everyone involved.
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