Every since his Royal Rumble victory didn’t go over very well (and I’m being generous there), there have been whispers here and there that the WWE might just have to go ahead and turn Roman Reigns heel. The rationale I saw was largely that since he was being booed anyway then they just need to have him embrace it and run with it like they did with The Rock back in 1997. I was thinking that they very well might do that when he was still being booed loudly at the RAW right after WrestleMania. But once we got a few weeks removed and it was clear that he wasn’t going to get the belt, the booing has seemed to die down and the reaction he is getting is more positive. Yes there are people more popular than him on the roster like his fellow Shield-mate Dean Ambrose but he no longer seems to be the pariah among a very vocal part of the fanbase that he was back in February and March. But that hasn’t stopped some people from continuing to call for the heel turn, and let me say here that I think that’s a bad idea.
You can’t just turn somebody because their big push didn’t go over as well as you planned it, or because a vocal part of the fanbase (cough, IWC, cough) craps on a guy. The main reason so many people turned on Reigns was because they wanted Daniel Bryan in the main event and didn’t get it. Of course they came with the convenient excuse that Roman didn’t earn it like Bryan did, and that he was being force fed to us because he looked the part and his family heritage. To which I say, hogwash. The Rock was defending the title at the same point in his career as Roman was when he challenged for it. Randy Orton, at the time he won the title the first time, was the youngest to win the title. Like Reigns, Orton benefited tremendously from looking the part and his own family history in the business. And yet….no calls that he didn’t earn it. No, this was all about Bryan.
In the 2010’s there is a particular romanticism towards guys who came up the hard way through the indies before becoming stars or who had to toil through no so great bookings before finally getting a good run at the top. Bryan is the patron saint of this movement, taking the mantle from CM Punk once he no longer fit the part. It’s the same movement that is propelling Kevin Owens now and has helped Seth Rollins and Ambrose become big stars. There’s nothing wrong with wanting those guys to succeed because of how they came up. To go from wrestling in front of 20 people to walking out with the title at WrestleMania like Bryan and Rollins have in back to back years is beyond inspiring. But the fact of the matter is that everyone who breaks through is not going to come up that way. The WWE has it’s own training facility and it’s own entry level promotion, NXT. There are going to be people who go directly there after being discovered and bypass the indie circuit altogether. That doesn’t make them worthy of your contempt if they get chosen for the big push ahead of an indie darling.
And lastly, what would be the point of a Reigns heel turn? One you get beyond the initial ‘OMG!’ moment where he turns on Dean and costs him the title…..then what? Is he going to join the Authority and be Seth Rollins lackey, right after a year of trying to beat the crap out of Seth for turning on he and Ambrose? If he wins Money in the Bank as expected is he going to stand next to Seth with the briefcase and wait for Rollins to lose he title to cash it in? Will Rollins somehow turn face out of all this, leading to the inexplicable re-teaming with Ambrose to take on the new turncoat Reigns? Have you folks thought any of this out? It’s as nonsensical as turning John Cena heel in that it would be a temporary source of appeasement that risks alienating the side of the fanbase that spends more money on T-shirts and such. It’s a fools gambit. Even if Reigns never wins over enough of the skeptics to become the star Vince McMahon probably hopes he can be, you don’t kill what money he is helping bring in to make the IWC feel better for a night or two.
Sorry guys, take your fantasy booking elsewhere. There’s a reason Vince is running the company and we’re just talking about it.