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Opinion: The best way for WWE to fix the Roman Reigns problem

Divesh Merani
ANALYST
Feature
1.21K   //    18 May 2018, 19:00 IST

WWE Smackdown
Can Roman Reigns be rescued?

In 2014, everybody loved Roman Reigns. He was the most popular member of The Shield. He was the star of the group as was an ass-kicking machine and people loved that. After the Shield broke up, Roman remained popular as ever. WWE looked to have found the next face of the company, with everyone on his side.

But they were insistent in making him the next John Cena. Cutting goofy promos only drifted away from what made the fans cheer for Roman in the first place. He wasn't an ass-kicking machine anymore, and the fans did not like that. The return of the beloved Daniel Bryan derailed his popularity even more and the fans turned against him.

After winning the 2015 Royal Rumble Match amidst tremendous boos, Roman Reigns was heading to the main event of WrestleMania 31 with the crowd against him. The reaction towards him was so bad that plans for 'Mania had to change at the last minute, and Roman did not win the title that night. Instead, former Shield buddy Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase, mid-match, to win the WWE Championship from Brock Lesnar.

After WrestleMania, WWE tried to reignite The Big Dog's popularity. It seemed like they succeeded when the wild crowd in Philadelphia cheered for Roman as he finally won the WWE Championship, in the same building he was booed out of after winning the Royal Rumble earlier that year.

But the goodwill for him quickly ran out as WWE's plans for WrestleMania 32 became increasingly obvious. Roman Reigns would lose the title to evil boss Triple H in the 2016 Royal Rumble Match and win it back in the main event of WrestleMania. People could see this outcome from a mile away.

If there is one thing a pro wrestling character shouldn't be, it is predictable. Reigns was, and still is, going down that path. Hence, a heel turn at any time in the last few years would have done wonders for the evolution of his character. In fact, he probably would have been accepted as the face of WWE by this point in time, if they had pulled the trigger on the heel turn years ago.

Wrestling in this day and age is so weird. The heels are the ones who are more over with the fans. A good heel would usually make a great babyface. Similarly, a stale babyface would usually make a great heel. And the cycle continues.

The Rock is a prime example of this. Rocky Maivia was dreadful as a babyface but once he turned heel, he showed what he can do. The Rock's success is yet another example of this practice.Roman Reigns is not even close to having the charisma of Dwayne Johnson, but he certainly is much better than what Rocky Maivia was.

Funnily, The Rock heard those boos before he became The Rock.
Funnily, The Rock heard those boos before he became The Rock.

Having him stay on as a face just insults everybody's intelligence, especially since he has so many heel tendencies. It is baffling that he "retired" The Undertaker at last year's WrestleMania and remained a face. Reigns has had little to no character development in the last few years. He is basically the same person who cut that "Sufferin' succotash" promo all those years ago.

Right now, WWE are portraying Reigns as a whiney guy who complains that management is holding him back. And the management really is holding him back. There is a killer heel inside, waiting to be unleashed.

But he has been stuck as a babyface despite being unpopular as ever, sounding like an idiot every week on Raw. His current booking makes people feel sorry for Roman, but not in a sympathetic manner.

His character is unbelievably unlikeable and very easy to hate. But now, it has gone beyond that. This was evident in the main event of this year's WrestleMania. Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar fought for the WWE Universal Championship to no response from the 75,000+ fans in attendance.

The situation became even worse at Backlash, where fans left the arena before and during the main event between Reigns and Samoa Joe. The match itself was a very poor one and non-indicative of the talent of both men. Chants of "Delete","CM Punk" and even "Beat the traffic" rang around the arena during the match.

We saw a very telling camera shot of people rushing towards the exits, just seconds after Roman picked up the victory. This is what it has come to. Who knows what will happen at Money in the Bank, when he faces Jinder Mahal, of all people, in Chicago, of all places? I fear for both of them.

If the top face in the company is getting booed, there are problems. And there have been problems for many years now. At this point, the Big Dog could find the cure for cancer and people would still be booing him. It is a cliche, but it is true. Reigns is beyond repair as a babyface now, the only option is to turn him heel. A thing that they should have done years ago.

The WWE should do the right thing and turn him heel. That way, your Big Dog might be rescued.


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Divesh Merani
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