WWE fans have been pushing for Roman Reigns to turn heel for what seems like an eternity. For a while it did look as though that was the way Reigns was headed, but the tide has changed again. Many want to see the agony end, with a “just do it already” mindset coming from the fans for Reigns to finally emerge as a villain. A new report suggests there is a feasible reason that the WWE cannot have Reigns become a villain.
Back when WWE was young, the Roman Reigns of the day passed through the rings of WrestleMania and all the other traditional events that are still going strong today. Their popularity had to do with how many showed up at these events. Then a few years later, it was also based on how many homes ordered the WWE pay-per-view events.
— ★Nineth★ (@Reigns_Negan) February 14, 2017
The popularity of Roman Reigns of yesteryear hedged on these events and PPV orders, but today there’s another massive factor involved — the internet, mainly the social media sites. According to Forbes Magazine, as much as the fans are clamoring for Reigns to turn heel, this isn’t a solution for the WWE.
— Roman (@Fileana2) February 14, 2017
It is probably hard for the WWE fans of this generation to think about what it was like before there was such a thing as “online.” Today, as soon as Roman Reigns makes a grunt, it’s sent off in a tweet or posted on a Facebook page for all to read, see, and hear. Back in the early days of WWE, you got your news by watching the WWE wrestling shows and events, so sometimes you were days behind on what is going on.
Those were also the days when the WWE had a bit more control on what fans heard and what they got to see. Today, with fans posting videos and photos, you are seeing and hearing things as soon as they unfold and without any masquerading by the WWE.
So as far as reality goes for the wrestling world, you are probably seeing more actual reality in the ring today than any other time in history. The WWE doesn’t get to edit fan videos and photos on the social media sites. More importantly, the WWE doesn’t get to edit the comments coming from the fans on these sites.
— Roman (@Fileana2) February 8, 2017
Social media sites offer up a meeting place of sorts where comments are exchanged and people sound off on wrestlers like Roman Reigns. This is unlike the days when the only comments were few and far between in the wrestling magazines, another venue that was edited. This meant you might not see the bad comments on a powerhouse such as Reigns. Back then it would have been much easier to sculpt him into a superstar or a villain.
Jump ahead to 2017 and there’s no editing going on anywhere, as the social media sites are bursting at the seams with WWE information and comments. While the matches are still pretty much orchestrated as they have been since the inception of WWE, what you are hearing, seeing, and reading from other people is the real thing. Basically it is the social media driving the bus today when it comes to turning someone like Reigns heel or superstar hero.
— Mike Grimes (@720Wrestling) February 5, 2017
The WWE can’t turn Reigns heel, cites Forbes, and the reason behind this is “Turning Reigns heel will sap him of the highly authentic emotional reactions he receives from fans and supporters alike.” If they did turn Reigns heel, “Worldwide trends inspired by Reigns would die down.” This would leave Reigns as nothing more than “just another bad guy.”
An example of the kind of draw Reigns brings to WWE is given with the rumored match with the Undertaker for WrestleMania 33. With the Undertaker being one of the most popular WWE characters in wrestling history, this match will “unite fans” against Reigns. Forbes suggests that if Reigns does fight the Undertaker and win, this makes for a “potentially server-breaking” event across the social media sites as the fans unite to hate Reigns.
— for my dreams (@Formydreams1) February 5, 2017
Fans also love to complain about Reigns, so if the WWE turned Reigns heel, this would put those complaints slowly to bed. As a heel, he’s supposed to be the bad guy and there’s not much to complain about. With Reigns, as he is today, as soon as he makes a move in the ring, the complaints are tweeted and posted to the social media sites like the flood gates opened.
The bottom line with all of this — keeping Reigns from turning into a villain means keeping the big money coming in. Forbes did the math and each social media viewer equals out to about 4 cents in revenue in digital media revenues for the ad-supported video on-demand (AVOD). A lot of WWE fans click in to watch, read, and sound off about Reigns. With viewer numbers fluctuating between 3.5 billion and 4 billion each quarter, those pennies add up quick.
Fans are “more engaged” online when they have something to be outraged about and Reigns fits that bill nicely. Making him a villain would calm down that ever-so-profitable outrage seen on the comments in the social media sites. That would calm down the revenue. Nobody ever wants their revenue to calm down, so Forbes‘ theory seems to support the WWE not feasibly being able to turn Reigns heel.
[Featured Image by Manish Swarup/AP Images]