Why Roman Reigns' babyface push is not working anymore
WWE has always established a young upcoming star as their next "face of the company”. Earlier it was Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, then came John Cena, and currently, we have Roman Reigns. Reigns was signed by WWE in 2010 and reported to their developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW). He made his main roster debut in November 2012 alongside Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins as a part of The Shield. The group teamed together till June 2014, after which Reigns entered the singles competition. Ever since the group split up, fans have turned on Reigns despite him being portrayed as a babyface.
He was drafted to Monday Night Raw at 2016 WWE Draft and since then has been pushed as the main guy of the brand. Already a Grand Slam Champion in less than six years in the company, Reigns has already main-evented countless PPVs and is multi-time WWE Champion. That is where the problem lies. Reigns was not fully ready. He had no mic skills, a predictable set of moves and was always seen as a predetermined winner in all matches. He was being pushed too hard, too soon. This is the sole reason for the WWE Universe not accepting him as the top guy.
Take the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view for example. Braun Strowman ruled the match eliminating all other superstars, only to fall victim to Roman Reigns. The outcome was so predictable that the creative couldn't even book a decent ending. The rumors of Reigns facing Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 34 had started doing rounds since last year. And WWE wasted no opportunity in proving them right.
Mr. McMahon is adamant on Roman Reigns being the face of the company irrespective of the fans' approval. People boo Roman Reigns because his push is overdone and his character makes no sense. It's their way of trying desperately to get the message across to any sort of creative authority in WWE. Winning every single feud without ever evolving the character hurts a lot. His push was ruined from the jump because he never earned it. He was shoved down everyone's throats before the fans had the chance to organically get behind him. Cena didn't instantly get shoved into the main event scene, his push was only after the fans organically got behind him in his US title days. That and Cena's natural character and charisma with the rap gimmick (which is close to John's real-life passion), got him over.
Reigns is a workhorse who comes out every week and puts on decent matches to get over with the crowd. He is a great in-ring talent who is being held up by the creative team. He should not be the next John Cena or Daniel Bryan. Wrestlers like Stone Cold, CM Punk, and Dolph Ziggler evolved when they became heels and a new aspect of their personalities was unveiled. That's what Roman requires, an organic run to make him a pure rebel who cuts short and crisp promos and is a ruthless beast in the ring. Afterall, he grinds day in and day out to become the flag bearer of the industry.
The questions that arise here are:
Does Reigns deserve the Universal Championship? Absolutely.
Does Reigns need to be pushed as a babyface anymore? Maybe not.
Reigns has improved a lot on the mic and in the ring but a babyface character can only take you so far. WWE has spent an overwhelming amount of time on Reigns and he definitely needs a great title run, but maybe as an anti-hero.
Make no mistake, Reigns is The Guy. He started his career from scratch in WWE, so it was simple for Vince McMahon to make him the top priority. But WWE continues to force him down our throats as a flagship star at the expense of almost everyone else on the roster. He is the John Cena of our generation, the main star of the company. He deserves all accolades but maybe not as a babyface anymore.
For the past three WrestleManias, Roman has been mercilessly booed out of the building. To avoid the same for the fourth year, the creative team needs to pull the trigger of turning him heel and what better to do it by making him a Paul Heyman guy. Heyman is gold on the mic and has been a career resurrector for numerous wrestlers in the past. The solution can be making him losing to Lesnar in a clean match. He turns full heel and destroys Lesnar after the match to such an extent that he is forced to vacate the title the next night on Raw. Heyman can deliver a strong promo in favor of Reigns making him the absolute badass heel. That would actually help him getting over with the WWE Universe.