WWE has misread fan reaction of Roman Reigns for nearly three years now. Or have they?
I don’t think they expected him to have Cena-esque polarization this early in his career. But, that’s where we are. Everyone has an opinion on Roman Reigns. And that’s just what WWE wants.
After building up star after star just to have Roman conquer them, The Big Dog is facing the biggest test and his best challenge yet at Wrestlemania. The Undertaker.
The Undertaker is the ultimate opponent and is always the prestige match-up for Mania. Even in his advanced age and diminished capacity, the Deadman elicits a respect and awe from fans that no wrestler, perhaps in history, has ever attained.
Taker will not be booed. It simply will not happen.
WWE, at least Triple H, knows how fans feel about Roman, too. In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, the presumptive heir to the WWE throne explained that Roman’s heel turn pretty much already happened:
“If you believe what you believe, and you’re saying, ‘How can they not turn him heel? There is 70 percent of the crowd booing him out of the building!’ If that’s your belief, then isn’t he already the biggest heel we have? If 70 percent of that crowd is booing him, then he’s a heel. We’re just presenting him to you in a different way that makes you hate him.”
So in Trip’s and presumably Vince’s eyes, there’s not a lot to change about Roman. They’re getting what they want out of him, a reaction. It recalls Roman’s infamous “I’m not a good guy, I am not a bad guy…” promo
But on the final Raw before Mania, there seemed to be a change in attitude from Roman that fans noticed. He wasn’t trying to win the crowd. In fact, he was openly antagonistic towards them, taking his normal boos and turning them up:
This is the Roman people want to see. He has to be the guy who is a monster who doesn’t care and is going to destroy anyone in his way.
But he still has to lose to Undertaker at Wrestlemania. Losing to Taker doesn’t hurt your career. In fact, it is a sign that the company believes in you and wants you in the main event. We know the execs believe that about Roman. Now it is time to get more of the fans on board. Having him go toe-to-toe with the Phenom will win Roman more credit, but it won’t be enough.
To become someone the fans will finally rally around, Roman has to have a great match but ultimately fall to the Undertaker.
But why? Because WWE has to change the perception around Roman from “Shoved Down Our Throats” To “Tough Guy who can go with anyone.” Reigns beating Undertaker would let fans know that WWE isn’t willing to change or listen.
Will this happen? There’s no way to know. I would suspect Vince himself doesn’t know how this match will end yet.
But one thing is for sure, the fans are waiting for Roman to fail and Vince can’t let that happen if he thinks Roman is the man to lead the next generation.
What are your thoughts? Will Roman be able to finally win fans over?