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Roman Reigns is one of the most divisive and talked about WWE performers in history. The company makes desperate play after desperate play to make him their number one star – thus far to no avail. How do they do it? What do they do?
I’m Tom Colohue and this is the Monday Night Reigns-o-Meter.
Monday Night Reigns-o-meter – Wrestlemania Omnibus Edition
Roman Reigns is, as of right now, the most hated man in pro wrestling history.
I have a quick point to make before I go into the O-Meter as proper and that is as follows: Roman Reigns gave the fans exactly what they wanted over the last couple of weeks. He is now a heel. People expecting a big turn, an after-match beating, a run-in against Seth Rollins, that would never have been right. There was never going to be a big turn and I’ll tell you why.
When I met Matt Hardy, he was wrestling in Preston, England, in front of at most 300 people. As he wrestled, the fans all broke out with a chant of “PCW! PCW! PCW! PCW!” Why? Because in the eyes of those fans, PCW is better than WWE.
It’s not; that’s a ridiculous notion. But I’ve heard the same chant come from TNA audiences. I’ve heard the same chant come from NXT audiences. Why? Because the audience want to put themselves over.
Whenever you hear a chant of “This is awesome!” there will always be an answering chorus of “This is awful!” Always. It doesn’t matter how good it is. Always. Why? Because some people want to be contradictory. Worse? “We are awesome!” That’s what happens when fans just want to get themselves over. Unfortunately, they do it at the expense of someone else. Wrestling is tribal. You pick your team and you support your fellows. Right now, the whole damned world is tribal.
I live in the UK. The UK voted to leave Europe. The US voted to “make America great again.” Throughout the whole world right now there is an idea that it’s time to look after ourselves. It’s time to stop looking out and start looking in. It’s the same reason that people chant “USA! USA! USA!” at Rusev. Does the country of his birth make him any more or less entertaining, or talented in the ring? No. Do those fans care? No. They have a legitimate opinion to express and there’s nobody going to stop me.
Which way I lean in this doesn’t matter; wrestling has always been a great way to see how the world changes. Vince McMahon saw something in audiences during the Attitude Era that told him which way to go. The same is true again.
And so this brings me to Roman Reigns. What started as a protest vote has become an international movement against someone. Those who were protesting at first have found their voices added to by those who are following the popular, and so there was never going to be a heel turn. If Roman Reigns had turned heel, the fans would have cheered the move because it would mean that WWE was admitting defeat. The fans were right. The fans are awesome.
This exact thing is happening right now with Dolph Ziggler, leaving Ziggler with absolutely no momentum in his heel run. If you’re a heel that everyone cheers for, you’re not a heel. You have failed in your basic purpose. There’s a reason that Kevin Owens attacked Chris Jericho and not the other way around.
How then do you make Roman heel? You kayfabe the hatred. Why is Roman Reigns the most hated man on the planet? Well, son, he retired The Undertaker. At WrestleMania, Roman Reigns turned heel and most people didn’t even notice. Roman Reigns retired The Undertaker. Roman Reigns genuinely made me cry.
And you know what made the whole thing perfect? That god damned promo on Monday Night Raw.
Tell me that isn’t the biggest monster heel WWE has ever seen. I dare you.
Yeah, this Reigns-o-Meter is different, but credit where credit is due. -WE could not win with Roman Reigns. If they let him go? The fans would cheer him where he ended up because he’s a big star. Keep pushing him? The fans will never cheer him. Turn him heel? The fans would cheer. Lose him in the mid card? The fans would complain about his opponents not getting better treatment. Credit where credit is due; they took that hatred and they legitimised it. If A.J. Styles retired The Undertaker, then I’d hate him too.
WWE cannot pander to the fans. They can’t be the followers; they have to be the leaders. There is plenty of proof lately that they listen, but the script can’t be written by fan polls. Everyone saw this coming, everyone was right, and everyone is the better for it.
Roman Reigns, the anti-villain, will complete the Brock Lesnar heel turn that started at Fast Lane when Goldberg destroyed Kevin Owens. And whoever he faces next better be ready to walk into the loudest crowd reaction they have ever known. WWE has crafted absolute gold out of Roman Reigns, whether we like it or not.
– The Undertaker
– A history of terrible promos
– The fans
Did Roman Reigns beat the odds?
Reigns Reigns destroyed the odds.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE: MONDAY NIGHT REIGNS-O-METER #12: Tracking Roman Reigns’s ability to beat the odds and come out on top