Roman Reigns can’t catch a break with WWE fans. Even though he’s been shuffled down to the upper mid-card, holding the United States Championship, and feuding with Rusev, audiences still shower him with more boos than cheers despite his babyface status. But if you ask the Big Show, Reigns deserves much better than being arguably the least popular good guy in recent wrestling history.
In an interview with Digital Spy published on Wednesday, Big Show shared several insights on WWE fans, the current product, and the psychology of wrestling matches. He also talked about how he deals with abusive Twitter users who poke fun at him, often for his age and the fact he’s still employed by WWE despite being in his mid-40s. That served as his cue to talk about the hate Roman Reigns has received from wrestling fans all over the world.
In the months following his controversial Royal Rumble win in January of 2015, Reigns has been booed as a babyface. Most of the boos come from fans who feel WWE has been rushing his push and force-feeding him to audiences as the next great “face of the company” and a potential heir apparent to John Cena in that position. And while it seemed like the Big Show was throwing some shade at so-called “indie darlings” fans want to see become the next big stars of WWE, he did stress that the reason wrestlers like Reigns get a push is because they have the ability to sell tickets and do good business for the company. And that’s despite the hate from many “smart” fans, whom Show believes take up a small minority of the broader wrestling community.
“The millions of people around the world are going to look at somebody like Roman Reigns and see him as a talent. They’re going to look at John Cena. They’re going to like Randy Orton. It’s a very weird business now because when I started there were things called dirt sheets. You didn’t read the dirt sheets. The dirt sheets you didn’t listen to. Now because of social media – it’s become a glorified dirt sheet.”
Ironically, Roman Reigns wasn’t always the subject of such fan vitriol. As a heel in the 2014 Royal Rumble, he was still part of The Shield, the silent enforcer in a mega-popular faction that also included Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. Reigns got tremendous fan support when he and Batista were the last two men in that year’s Royal Rumble match. But one year later at that same pay-per-view and that same main event match, fans were cheering for the anti-American heel Rusev when he and Roman, by that time a face, were the last two men in the ring.
These days, the boos have died down a bit, now that Reigns holds a “mid-card belt” in the U.S. Championship. He’s currently feuding with the slightly bigger, brawnier Rusev for that title, and according to Big Show, Reigns is indeed at his best when he’s facing someone larger than him.
“I thought his stuff he did with Brock (Lesnar) was amazing at (WrestleMania 31),” said Big Show. “I think Roman has a lot of all the right pieces to make everything work. I just think it’s (like) our society nowadays to pick on the guy that’s good-looking (and) athletic.”
At this point, it may be too early to expect the boos to go away for Reigns, and the argument remains that he may be better off turning heel and capitalizing on the heat he’s been receiving from fans. But if he works on his promo skills, continues improving in the ring, and gets written properly in future storylines, Roman Reigns may one day become a universally-admired babyface character, instead of someone who gets jeered despite his heroic alignment.
[Featured Image by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]