Despite all the boos, fans have yet to get a Roman Reigns heel turn. Since the last few months of The Shield in 2014, Reigns has been booked as a babyface. Complicating matters further, he is not portrayed as just any heroic competitor on WWE television. He has been booked as John Cena’s heir apparent as WWE’s top good guy, and few signs are more obvious than Roman’s nickname of “The Guy,” with emphasis on the first word and not the second. But smart fans have seen right through WWE’s attempts to push Reigns as the company’s next alpha dog, and they’ve responded with nothing but vitriol.
With WrestleMania 33 approaching, isn’t it high time we saw Roman Reigns make a heel turn and return to the dark side for the first time in two years? This writer believes it’s about time, although that’s becoming an old, tired refrain as WWE remains insistent on having Reigns follow in the footsteps of Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, John Cena, and other musclebound superheroes with top dog status in the company. But fans loved Hulk and Warrior, and Cena has, for the most part, received a healthy mix of cheers and boos. Reigns, on the other hand, won Pro Wrestling Illustrated‘s award for most hated wrestler of 2016, and as Forbes wrote, he was the first babyface to attain the dubious honor.
— HipHop Tamizha (@tamizha_Hiphop) January 10, 2017
Forbes writer Alfred Konuwa suggested that the “most hated wrestler” award may be a good catalyst for a Roman Reigns heel turn, as it would be in his best interests to “wear it like a badge of honor.” But as we’re seeing right now, it’s something the WWE Universe should bury in the deepest recesses of their memory. The Inquisitr wrote earlier this week about how WWE edited a fan’s positive reaction to heel Chris Jericho’s United States Championship win over Reigns on the January 9 Monday Night RAW, making it appear on a recap video the week after as if the fan was shocked. We’ve also heard stories of how WWE officials would confiscate anti-Reigns fan signs to further establish Roman as “The Guy.”
But shouldn’t WWE give up the ghost with WrestleMania 33 approaching, and give Roman Reigns the heel turn fans need to see? They should, and one other reason apart from the boos would be his seemingly non-babyface behavior. Sports Illustrated Philippines cited some examples of why Reigns as a face just isn’t working at the present.
“For starters, this is the guy who crashed Rusev and Lana’s wedding reception on RAW and slut-shamed the bride so he could goad Rusev into putting his United States Championship on the line. This is also a guy who doesn’t represent babyface values like honor, dignity, or even (John) Cena’s good ol’ ‘Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect.’ Roman Reigns at his core is just out for himself and—when it’s convenient for him—his friends.”
As for what WWE should do to establish Reigns as a bad guy, one idea would be to make him the Monday Night RAW wrestler not named Braun Strowman who’d be booked against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 33. There’s no way ‘Taker will be given the heel treatment by fans in such a match, and if Reigns ends up beating The Undertaker, possibly in a career-vs.-title match (assuming Reigns beats Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship at Royal Rumble), heat levels could easily rise to nuclear. That would mark the return of a villainous Roman Reigns and give him a heel turn if he doesn’t have one before WrestleMania. And what a heel this character would be, much like Brock Lesnar was after he broke The Undertaker’s WrestleMania winning streak almost three years ago.
We should take note that the above is just a fantasy booking scenario, and to be perfectly honest, this writer thinks WWE may likely go with Reigns vs. Braun Strowman and have Reigns make monster heel Strowman eat his first post-brand split pin. But at the risk of beating a dead horse, WWE should know better than to keep force-feeding Roman to fans who can’t stand to see him being booked as the top good guy.
Last year, WhatCulture wrote a piece listing several reasons why turning Roman Reigns heel is such a good idea, and strangely enough, it was the tenth-ranked and the simplest reason that still stands out the most; even up to now, WWE had nothing to lose by turning “The Guy” into a bad guy.
“They can have Reigns win as many matches as they want – or hold the WWE Title for as long as they want – and the more jeers he gets, the better. And if the unthinkable should happen and the heel Reigns starts getting cheered, well, that’s not nearly as bad as the situation they’ve got now.”
The Inquisitr wrote earlier today that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon still appears dead-set on pushing Reigns as a face, and Braun Strowman and The Undertaker do appear to be likely WrestleMania 33 opponents. This writer, though, believes that the only way to get the burly 31-year-old over is to go ahead and pull the trigger on a Roman Reigns heel turn and admit that the experiment of pushing him as the next face of the company just doesn’t and will not work.
[Featured Image by WWE]