Roughly eleven months ago, after winning the Royal Rumble match, the fans at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, booed Roman Reigns out of the building. Reigns winning the Rumble match was supposed to be the beginning of his run as the new face of WWE, but that night, and for many more nights to come, the WWE fans just didn’t want to see Reigns as the top guy.
WWE, in their minds, were prepared for a hostile reaction towards Reigns on that night, so they called up The Rock, who they knew the fans wouldn’t turn on, to come and endorse Reigns as the company’s new top guy. Long story short, it didn’t work.
Reigns was supposed to go on to WrestleMania and defeat the man who broke The Undertaker’s legendary undefeated streak, Brock Lesnar, and become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. However, as everybody knows, plans changed, and Seth Rollins walked out of WrestleMania 31 as the new WWE World Champ.
Now, eleven months after the fans turned on Reigns, in the exact same building where the booing began, WWE decided to finally put, and keep, the WWE Title on Reigns, and the fans absolutely loved it. For the first time in a long time, Reigns was completely cheered in the building, and it would appear, at least for now, that the fans are finally beginning to accept him as the new face of the company.
After Monday’s RAW went off the air, Roman Reigns stayed in the ring, and celebrated his WWE Title win with his cousins Jimmy and Jey Uso, and his former running mate in The Shield and the new Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose.
During the celebration, Reigns grabbed a microphone, and he thanked the fans in Philadelphia for booing him when he won the Royal Rumble, because that only drove him to get better. It was completely unscripted, and it was, by far, the best speech/promo of his entire career. You can check it out below.
On Tuesday, Roman Reigns made his first appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter and talked with former WWE commentator Jonathan Coachman about his journey to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and what it felt like to have the fans finally embrace him as the new top guy in WWE.
“[This year] has been crazy. I wouldn’t have been able to predict that it would be like this. For me, it started in Philadelphia, at Royal Rumble 2015 — the reactions didn’t go our way, it was one of those things that was thrown at you and you just have to deal with it. From there, I was scratching and clawing, dealing with a lot of adversity, and just trying to show that you can turn it around, and that’s what happened last night in Philly. It was an amazing moment. I honestly think it was fate to have all these different things line up, for this to happen back in Philly again, to have a completely different reaction, and for it to be on my daughter’s birthday… It was awesome.”
Philadelphia has notoriously been one of the harshest cities to a new, upcoming babyface in WWE. So, the fact that Reigns was loved on Monday by the crowd at the Wells Fargo Arena is a good indicator that the booing will, for the most part, subside.
Now the pressure is on the WWE creative team to keep Reigns’ momentum going. It would appear, from what we saw at the TLC pay-per-view, and from what we saw on Monday’s RAW, that WWE has finally figured out that they need to book Reigns more like Goldberg or Brock Lesnar than John Cena.
It’ll be interesting to see if the fans at next week’s RAW, which is taking place in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will continue to cheer Reigns, and it’ll be even more interesting to see if the WWE creative team can find a way to keep their new WWE Champ’s momentum going.
[Image via WWE]