WWE Royal Rumble 2017 Reaction: Do WWE want us to hate Roman Reigns?
Will Roman Reigns ever be cheered by the WWE Universe again?
The 2017 Royal Rumble turned out to be a spectacular event. I look forward to the Royal Rumble every year despite, being disappointed on multiple occasions during the last decade. Poor management of the actual Royal Rumble match in recent years has led to a decline in excitement and a rise in the worry that they’ll spoil it again this year.
Take 2015 as an example. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Rey Mysterio get booed as much as he did when he arrived in what should have been Daniel Bryan’s number 30 spot. It spoilt what could have been a Cinderella story.
In true WWE fashion, the creative team did rectify this and Daniel Bryan climbed to the top of the mountain at WrestleMania XXX but should fans have to go through the anger of not getting what’s expected?
WWE likes to throw curveballs but it has really missed the mark in the majority of Royal Rumbles lately. Del Rio winning, Batista winning, Roman Reigns winning a year too late…
We’ve arrived at the subject of the article – Roman Reigns. A guy I thought would be a true Superstar by now, loved and adored by as many people who supported The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and CM Punk. Rewind three years and you probably had the same opinion.
Roman Reigns was a part of one of the most successful factions of the modern era, The Shield.
The 2014 Royal Rumble set the stage for the unmitigated support as The Shield were absolutely dominant in the match. Roman Reigns would go on to set the record for most eliminations in a Royal Rumble match with 12.
The crowd were fully behind Reigns as he decimated the competition. This was heightened when the lack of an appearance by Daniel Bryan sent the crowd into meltdown. Reigns made it to the final four along with Punk, Sheamus and Batista. After Kane ended Punk’s dreams in the match and Sheamus was eliminated this left just Reigns and Batista.
Part of what built Reigns’ popularity so much was the fact that no one wanted Batista to win, again, due to the lack of Daniel Bryan. The crowd needed a hero and Reigns was this hero for the night. He was eventually eliminated and Batista won arguably the most controversial Royal Rumble in WWE history.
Things were going well for the guy who was set to be the next face of the WWE. Popularity for the Shield grew even stronger as they completed a face turn and went on to defeat Evolution twice in two amazing matches!
Then Seth Rollins turned on the group and thus began the downfall of Roman Reigns. WWE remembered the reaction that Reigns got from the crowd at the 2014 Rumble and proceeded to make him untouchable for the rest of 2014.
He was being shoved down fans’ throats for months on end and people likened it to Cena’s invincible status. He was no longer naturally gaining momentum. WWE upset the apple cart and tried to capitalise on Reigns’ popularity much too quickly, resulting in the opposite effect. People began to boo what was supposed to be the biggest babyface in the company.
Never was this more evident than a year later at the 2015 Royal Rumble, where Reigns won the event and was greeted with a chorus of boos. People don’t want Superstars that WWE want you to like to win things, they want to have their own choice. An organic superstar like Stone Cold, Chris Jericho or Triple H.
All gained natural popularity in their rise to the top. Even The Rock came out to try and get the crowd to cheer the ending but it just wasn’t happening. Luckily, Reigns did not capture the top title at WrestleMania thanks to Rollins cashing in the Money in the Bank contract, so WWE managed to rectify the situation again, but they shouldn’t have had to.
Did they learn their lesson? No. For another straight year, Reigns was booed out of nearly every arena across the country every time he made an appearance. By the time the next Rumble came around he was the WWE Champion and WWE in its infinite wisdom decided to have the title on the line in the 2016 Royal Rumble match.
Everyone was prepared for another lacklustre pay-per-view with Reigns retaining the title but HHH saved us all and won the title and his second Royal Rumble.
The reason I say the promotion did not learn its lesson is because Reigns was actually booked as the underdog, despite being Champion and despite winning the match the year before. It was reported that Vince booked the match so the crowd would cheer Reigns but instead, they cheered Triple H and loved the fact that Reigns did not win the title.
It was the first Rumble in around three years that ended in undeniable cheers from the crowd.
Why not listen to the crowd?
They then booked Reigns to win the spot of #1 contender to the title at Fastlane against none other than Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar. He went on to defeat HHH at WrestleMania 32 in a forgettable main event encounter that resulted in everyone groaning and rolling their eyes at Roman Reigns reaching the top of the mountain once again.
Three years in a row WWE have pushed this man to be the top face of the company, all the while, he has been booed, vilified and hated by the majority of the WWE Universe.
But why not make him heel? That would be the sensible thing to do. Why not keep him away from the top titles in the business and stop pushing him to heights he once could have reached but can’t now? Another sensible thing to do. Because WWE is of the opinion that it’s us that are wrong and we will like performers that the promotion tells us to.
Well I have news for the WWE, that won’t wash in the modern era. We know who we like and we don’t want you to book people to high heaven, expecting a 90s babyface reaction from us. You’ve ruined Roman Reigns as a character and as a Superstar and I’m more disappointed at what he could have been than annoyed at what he now is.
That brings us to this year’s Royal Rumble. Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens had an absolutely amazing match last night. I was hooked from a few minutes in, having resigned myself to the fact it wouldn’t be very entertaining. Needless to say, I was dead wrong.
It was only spoilt by the interference of Strowman. I don’t think the match needed it. But by the end, Reigns seemed to have won over the crowd due to his efforts in this match. A turning point for the Superstar?
No, of course not, WWE ruined all that hard work and had him come out at number 30. Honestly, Gillberg would have got a better response. We’ve already reported earlier today, that people began to walk out as soon as he made his entrance.
I just don’t know what went through the mind of the creative team when they put that together. Where was Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle or Shinsuke Nakamura?
Okay, so he’s in the Rumble, but surely that’s as far as WWE will go with its middle-finger to the fans. Nope, known for raising the bar, they had him eliminate The Undertaker. You read it right, The Undertaker.
One of the most anticipated arrivals in the Rumble. I just don’t know what to say. Orton eliminated Reigns in the end so at least the PPV ended on a high note but the crowd weren’t cheering because Orton won, they were cheering because Reigns didn’t.
I can only surmise that WWE wants us to hate Roman Reigns because they seem to be doing everything in their power to make that happen. They have done nothing to turn the tide or even gain a cheer for the unfortunate main-eventer and it seems he is now stuck until he eventually turns heel.
However, WWE would need to find a replacement babyface in double quick time and the only person I can think of who could carry the company is Seth Rollins. Had he not been in a programme with HHH, it would have been the perfect opportunity to have a double switch the likes of which we haven’t seen since WrestleMania 13.
I don’t know where they go from here. They seem to be setting Reigns up for a programme with The Undertaker which would surely involve the heel turn I have been talking about. I hope The Undertaker buries this Roman Reigns and we get the one we all wanted from the beginning. Time to rectify things like you always do WWE!
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