How Roman Reigns reacted when WWE booked him to lose huge title match

Roman Reigns is the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion
Roman Reigns is the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion

Joey Mercury says Roman Reigns had no problem with WWE’s decision-makers booking him to lose in the main event of WrestleMania 31.

Reigns was widely expected to defeat Brock Lesnar to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for the first time in his career. However, Seth Rollins emerged from the event with the title after successfully cashing in his Money in the Bank contract.

Joey Mercury, a former WWE Superstar and producer, had the responsibility of informing Reigns about the match outcome. Speaking to WSI’s James Romero, Mercury explained how the former Shield member reacted to the news:

“When I had to tell him in the hallway of the hotel that he was not gonna defeat Brock Lesnar after everything we did for the last year, after Brock broke The Streak, after Brock killed John Cena at SummerSlam, after Suplex City, all that, we’re not gonna put Roman over... To see that, just to see him smile, say, ‘Okay, it’s gonna be great.’” [2:54-3:18]

Reigns finally won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Survivor Series 2015, eight months after his WrestleMania 31 defeat. He is now a two-time Universal Champion, four-time WWE Champion, and six-time WrestleMania main-eventer.

Why WWE did not turn Roman Reigns heel earlier

Roman Reigns often received boos during his six-year run as a babyface singles competitor between 2014 and 2020. Upon his return at SummerSlam 2020, the 36-year-old turned heel and began associating himself with Paul Heyman.

Discussing Reigns’ lengthy babyface run, Joey Mercury explained that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon was ultimately responsible for his top star’s good-guy status:

“In WWE there’s a saying backstage that there’s an audience of one. So who is the biggest resister [of turning Reigns heel]? I don’t know. Who is the biggest resister to keeping him face? Doesn’t matter. He kept face. Why? That’s what Vince wanted to do. That’s what Vince thought was best.” [0:30-0:58]

Mercury also said in the interview that he pitched an idea to reveal Reigns’ leukemia battle to fans several years before his second diagnosis. Triple H rejected the idea because McMahon had already made it clear that he wanted The Tribal Chief’s illness to remain a secret.

Please credit WSI and give a H/T to Sportskeeda Wrestling for the transcription if you use quotes from this article.