Wrestling pundits and fans have been begging the WWE to turn Roman Reigns heel ever since he left The Shield to launch his pursuit of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Reigns has long been rumored to be Vince McMahon’s chosen successor to John Cena as the future face of the company, and despite an abysmal fan reaction and constant boos, Reigns has now headlined four straight WrestleManias. Despite winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on three occasions, Reigns has never held the title for long, and he has yet to defeat Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship.
Things might have finally come to a head for Roman after his disastrous bout against Samoa Joe at WWE Backlash on May 6, 2018. The match was reported to be a huge bore fest, which was actually quite surprising as Reigns and Samoa Joe have had several good matches in the past.
However, at Backlash 2018, the match alternated between Samoa Joe tossing Roman around like a rag doll and long rest holds, with the talented, but overweight, master of the Coquina Clutch flopped on top of Reigns while trying to choke Roman into unconsciousness. After 17 long minutes of being brutalized and pummeled, Reigns suddenly speared Samoa Joe out of nowhere and pinned him for the win.
Fans were already furious that the bout between Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns was the main event over AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, and they vented their frustration throughout the match by loudly booing Reigns at every opportunity. As the match dragged on and on, fans added several taunts to the boos. According to Uproxx, shouts of “This is boring,” “CM Punk,” and “Beat the traffic” filled the arena as the crowd began to file out before the match was over.
While this was bad enough, things got worse for the WWE in the week following Backlash 2018, when both Raw and SmackDown had their lowest television ratings since December, 2017. Raw ratings were down by 17 percent, and SmackDown ratings fell by 8 percent.
Vince McMahon and WWE management must be concerned about the ratings drop and the fan’s refusal to accept Roman Reigns as a babyface championship contender. Roman has been the loser in three title bouts against Brock Lesnar, and he is now scheduled for a relatively meaningless feud with Jinder Mahal, another former WWE World Champion. Where Reigns heads now is anyone’s guess, but even Forbes Magazine is calling for the WWE to turn him heel.
“Reigns’ reactions aren’t getting any better. He’s perhaps been surpassed by Styles as a merchandise seller. He’s certainly been overtaken by names like Strowman, Styles, Bryan, Balor and Rollins in terms of crowd reaction. He lost consecutive matches to Lesnar as well as other big matches to stars like The Miz, Nakamura and Rollins, and the fans wanted him to lose to Joe.
“In other words, if this doesn’t make WWE think about a potential heel turn for Reigns, then what would?”
And don’t forget, Roman’s old Shield buddy, Dean Ambrose, should be back soon from his injury. Fans would probably love to see Reigns viciously attack “The Lunatic Fringe” and turn heel in the process.