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Why Roman Reigns entering at #30 can set up his heel turn

Could WWE finally pull the trigger on the long-awaited Roman Reigns heel turn?

Is Reigns finally turning heel?

Are the members of the WWE’s creative team addicted to the rush of euphoria they probably get when a Superstar who is supposed to be a fan favourite makes his entrance, only to be engulfed with boos? Do they need therapy to overcome their need to frustrate the fans during every Royal Rumble?

Or do they just have some kind of malady that makes boos and cheers sound alike?

These were the questions that did the rounds on Twitter when Roman Reigns was the final entrant in the Royal Rumble match earlier this week.

Putting him in a position that the audience was hoping would be filled by a debuting/returning Superstar, seems like a baffling decision on the surface, but on closer inspection, it has all the makings of a classic Vince McMahon troll job. 

Why it could happen:

There is every possibility that the WWE used Roman Reigns as a human irritant in order to enrage fans and lay the groundwork for an eventual heel turn. The clearest evidence that this was a conscious decision lies in the fact that Reigns was one of the last two men in the match, and his elimination was clearly designed to generate a massive reaction for Randy Orton, who was given the victory to eventually start a babyface run. 

Roman Reigns is also set to face the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. A victory over the Deadman would propel him to a new level of villainy and a star would be born almost instantly.

Why it should happen:    

A turn for Reigns makes all the sense in the world because it is the easiest way to get the fans to accept him. If he did become an entertaining heel, his best qualities could be refined to make him a legitimate box office attraction. The naturally smug demeanour of Roman Reigns, combined with his look and sarcastic delivery, will allow him to talk down to the audience effectively and give his persona more of an edge.

Historical precedent:

Someone who was in a position similar to Reigns at the beginning of his career was The Rock. Yes, the very same man who is the most popular action movie star in the world today. 

The Rock was also groomed to be the face of the company from the day he signed a deal with the WWE. However, he was initially presented as a bland hero named Rocky Maivia, who was devoid of any personality or charisma.

He was pushed hard from the onset and went on to win the Intercontinental Championship at the 1996 Survivor Series. However, he was rejected by the fans at Madison Square Garden who began to chant, “Die Rocky Die”. This eventually caught on throughout the United States.

Frustrated that the positioning of his uber-talented young performer was not working, Vince McMahon decided to turn The Rock heel by having him join the Nation of Domination.

When finally given a character whose motivations he could relate with, The Rock was able to cut more effective promos.The Rock would eventually break out of the Nation of Domination and develop into one of the most charismatic men in the history of wrestling.

He would then enjoy a monumental run, when the genre was at the peak of its popularity, before finding success on the silver screen. 

Another man who fits this bill to a degree is Stone Cold Steve Austin. Although Austin was never handpicked for superstardom like Reigns or The Rock, his heel run in 1996 established him in the upper card for the first time in his career. He later parlayed the best traits of his character into a babyface run that saw him become the biggest draw in the history of wrestling.

How it should be booked:

The most impactful way to turn Roman heel is by having him beat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania with a heel finish. This will make the fans apoplectic with rage. He should then have a long reign as Universal Champion.

These events will finally allow Reigns to take out his frustrations on the fans, after years of getting booed out of every building. This will teach him to carry segments on Raw more effectively, and his character will also have the opportunity to gain more depth.

In the ring, Reigns must be booked as a powerhouse Champion, who will stoop to any depth to retain the title. He should defeat a carousel of credible challengers and then eventually drop the title, to the most promising babyface, at Wrestlemania 33.

A heel run booked in this manner will allow WWE to build Raw around Reigns and create other stars through him. It will also give him credibility with every segment of the audience, and it will allow him to eventually have a babyface run at the top of the card in 2-3 years time.

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