In just a few days from now, Roman Reigns might end up as the new WWE Universal Champion at SummerSlam, ending Brock Lesnar’s run of more than 500 days as Monday Night Raw’s top champion. While he hasn’t gotten booed as frequently as he was in the past, there’s a chance that many fans won’t be onboard with the polarizing “Big Dog” if he gets to win the title from Lesnar on Sunday. However, Reigns was taking things in stride while throwing a bit of playful shade against his many detractors as he cut a pre-SummerSlam interview with Yahoo Sports and touched on the topic of his fan reactions.
As noted by Yahoo Sports’ Anthony Sulla-Heffinger, Reigns is one of WWE’s most popular wrestlers when it comes to younger audiences and casual fans. However, he has consistently gotten the heel treatment from certain WWE fans upset at how the company seems to force audiences to like him as its number one babyface, or heroic character. Reigns told Yahoo Sports that he’s unfazed by such fans, whom he described as similar to “closet lovers.”
“You can say whatever you want, but it’s how you say it that matters. The way they deliver it, they’re more connected to me than their so-called ‘favorites.’ For me to be able to pull on whatever string I pull on, it just goes to show there’s a deep rooting there.”
— WWE Public Relations (@WWEPR) August 14, 2018
Talking about how fans boo him because WWE loves his “traditional superhero” look or because “smart” fan favorites like Finn Balor and Sami Zayn don’t get pushed like he does, Roman Reigns said that it “doesn’t really matter,” as long as he’s getting loud and enthusiastic responses from audiences. He also addressed the common tendency of fans to hijack Monday Night Raw and other WWE shows, saying that these things do happen, but in the end, he feels thankful whenever fans have a reaction to what happens in the ring.
“I really do think that if they love to hate you, they still love you,” said Reigns.
Roman Reigns’ comments to Yahoo Sports marked the latest instance in which he publicly fired back against his detractors. Wrestling Inc. wrote about a series of Twitter exchanges Reigns had with fans in 2016, where he responded to people who took aim at a variety of things, including his Wellness Policy violation from earlier that year and how he seemed “disrespectful” while carrying his United States Championship belt on television. The same publication also wrote about how Reigns took to Twitter in May 2017, asking followers if they’d prefer to grow up and “be like [him]” or if they’d want to turn out like the people who criticized him on a Sports Illustrated video as being “boring,” among other negative remarks.