If you thought that WWE had given up on trying to make Roman Reigns a sympathetic babyface on his endless push towards becoming the company’s top star, guess again.
WWE has tried practically every trick in the locker and found a few more elsewhere in a desperate attempt to get Roman Reigns over as a babyface with fans. The company has protected him by stopping him from suffering too many clean losses in the ring, minimized his promo time as much as possible, and muted audio when his music kicks in at arenas so the audience’s boos won’t be as obvious to viewers at home.
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) January 17, 2017
The WWE’s production team has seemingly gone into overdrive to mask any antipathy towards Roman Reigns, and Monday’s Raw saw just the latest in a long line of tactics.
In the main event of last week’s Raw, Reigns defended the WWE United States Championship against the best friend pairing of WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho in a handicap match. Reigns lost the title after Jericho delivered a Codebreaker while Reigns was tangled in the ropes, before Owens powerbombed The Big Dog into the ring apron, a move that’s put some wrestlers on the shelf for weeks at a time (at least from a kayfabe perspective). Owens rolled Reigns back into the ring, where he took a second Codebreaker and Jericho pinned him to become the United States Champion for the first time in his career.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) January 17, 2017
Just after Jericho won, the camera cut to a man in the crowd who was literally jumping for joy over Y2J winning the title. That’s despite Jericho playing the heel and Reigns portraying the babyface, at least in WWE’s eyes. If Reigns losing the title to two men ganging up on him was supposed to build fan sympathy for him, it did not appear to work.
However, WWE aired a recap of the match on this week’s Raw, and after the video package showed Jericho winning, it cut to the same fan, who this time was looking dismayed.
— Eugene Oubliette (@zorak303) January 17, 2017
The apparent duplicity and manipulation of what really happened emerged in a thread on Reddit’s /r/squaredcircle wrestling discussion board and was reported on by With Spandex. One Reddit user in the thread suggested that WWE has the right to do what it likes with its footage of fans from events, and that fans tacitly agree to such conditions simply by attending a WWE show.
“When you go to WWE shows you’re giving them full right to use your image on their product however they want. There’s usually signs on the arena entrance doors. Small print and hard to notice, of course, but they’re there.”
While WWE’s video editing trick was certainly sneaky, the company didn’t do anything wrong here. It’s trying to garner support for a character Vince McMahon clearly wants to be the focal point of its flagship show, and it’s well within its rights to edit footage as it sees fit to aid that cause. It’s not censorship or a conspiracy.
However, the way in which WWE went about editing the footage while, in many fans’ eyes, failing to support wrestlers who are gaining support more organically could be seen as another misstep in the company’s attempts to solidify Roman Reigns as a major fan favorite.
This latest sly move, which comes right on the tails of Roman Reigns becoming the first ever babyface to win Pro Wrestling Illustrated‘s Most Hated Wrestler award, won’t do him any favors with fans.
[Featured Image by WWE]