To say Roman Reigns is an unpopular choice to main event WrestleMania 31 against Brock Lesnar would be an exercise in understatement at this point.
He was rejected outright at the conclusion of the Royal Rumble 30-man battle royal match in which fans and industry vets alike criticized him for “taking a nap” in the corner while other wrestlers tried to make the match interesting.
When he eliminated Big Show and Kane and finally Rusev to punch his ticket to the WWE’s biggest pay-per-view of the year, boos were deafening and online the #CancelWWENetwork hashtag became a worldwide trend.
These developments prompted WWE management to respond, first by making Roman Reigns “work for it” with a match at Fast Lane against crowd favorite Daniel Bryan.
That goes down on Feb. 22 and is expected to go in Reigns’ favor in spite of continued protests.
Triple H also discussed the idea that the WWE was “forcing” Reigns on the fan base in a fascinating 90-minute interview with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, one of Reigns’ frequent critics.
While The Game, on behalf of the rest of the WWE upper management, insists that isn’t the case, recent events have fans crying foul.
First, there were rumors that WWE had to feed Reigns lines to get him through a Raw promo immediately after the Royal Rumble and now new reports are claiming that the company piped in fake cheers at the Feb. 5 Smackdown taping during a Roman Reigns promo.
The r/squaredcircle subreddit, a board that Triple H and other WWE insiders reportedly frequent, was rife with complaints on Friday.
“That fake pop for Roman was PATHETIC,” wrote one user.
“If you saw Roman’s promo with Daniel Bryan at Smackdown, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Every time there’s a fake pop on Smackdown, you can tell it from a mile. They’re always the same, and in the end it is usually accompanied by a faint-ish whistle. Whatever line Roman dropped, apparently it got a bigger pop. It’s like they didn’t give a slimy [expletive] when they’re piping in fake noises…. This whole mentality of ‘we’re [expletive] gonna put him over and you’re gonna like and cheer for it’ makes me sick to my stomach.”
“It was bad,” admitted a second commenter, “but at this point is it any different then a laugh track?”
Did you pick up on any fake cheers while watching Smackdown? Is this further proof that the WWE plans to stay the course and put the title on Roman Reigns at WrestleMania? Sound off in our comments section.