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WNS Column: Why WWE Should NOT Give Up on Roman Reigns
Posted By: Caylon Knox on Jul 01, 2016
Long before Roman Reigns' recent suspension from WWE for violating their Wellness Policy, there's been a lot of debate as to what Roman's future in WWE will look like and whether or not WWE should just give up on him as a World Champion/main event caliber performer. For the fans who dislike Reigns, his recent suspension will be another big reason to criticize him and boo him out of the building. Perhaps WWE can capitalize on this.
Should WWE give up on Roman Reigns as far as being the next top babyface along the lines of John Cena, The Rock, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, etc.? I would say yes. Most definitely, yes. The WWE Universe has made it crystal clear over the past year that they aren't buying Roman Reigns as the next top babyface in the company. But that certainly doesn't mean that WWE should give up on Reigns as a character or a performer. Quite the contrary, they should just completely give in to how the fans want to react to Roman, and let him be one of the best heels that the company has seen in years.
Roman gets a lot of boos from the audience, but any reaction is better than no reaction at all. If nobody cared about him at all, he would receive a dead-silent reaction instead of the deafening boos that he usually seems to receive. However, nobody can deny that his matches, especially his high-profile main event matches, are downright entertaining to watch. Say what you want about his imperfections on the microphone, but Roman Reigns has absolutely demonstrated time and time again that he can flat out get it done in the ring. Whether you're rooting for Reigns or against him, the fact of the matter is that his matches are just plain fun to watch. Reigns is more than capable of having fast-paced, hard-hitting, back-and-forth matches that will keep the fans on the edge of their seats.
Personally, I don't really like Reigns as a babyface at all. I like him much better as a heel. I loved his work when he was the silent, badass enforcer for The Shield. I'm starting to like him a lot more again now that he slowly, slowly seems to be transitioning back into a full-fledged heel.
Despite WWE's fantasies about having Roman be the "squeaky clean, good guy" face of the company, it seems as though Roman is destined to achieve greater success as a heel character. Many Superstars nowadays seem to be much better at playing a heel than a babyface, and Roman Reigns is no exception. In fact, when asked if they prefer being a babyface or a heel, most wrestlers will often say that it's both easier and a lot more fun to play a heel. If the WWE Universe wants Roman Reigns to be a heel, then so be it.
Why should WWE give up on Reigns at this point? They've invested so much time and effort into trying to establish him as a main eventer. As far as establishing Reigns as a "top guy" on the roster, they've been successful. Roman Reigns has become a household name and the fans are well aware of who he is and the great Samoan Dynasty that he comes from. As far as making him a likable babyface, indeed, that experiment has been a complete and utter failure. But again, this certainly does not mean that WWE should just throw in the towel and give up on him.
Look at Randy Orton. Orton was a heel for a few years as part of Evolution, but then he became a babyface after winning the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam 2004 and becoming the youngest World Champion in WWE history. But the babyface Orton experiment only lasted for a short time, and he turned back into a heel again leading up to his match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 21. Orton was one of the top heels in the company for over five years from 2005 until 2010, when he started feuding with his former Legacy proteges Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr. When Legacy split up, the fans starting cheering for Orton as he proceeded to take the young rookies to school and defeated them both in convincing fashion at WrestleMania 26. Throughout 2010, Orton became the most popular Superstar on the roster as he was RKO'ing everybody left and right and picking up clean victories over many of WWE's top Superstars.
Why couldn't the same thing happen with Roman Reigns? Let him get himself over as a top heel for a few years until the fans start to like and respect him more. Eventually, the fans will realize - and perhaps begrudgingly admit - that Reigns has a true passion for his career and really is a stellar performer in the ring. He could slowly win more and more of the fans over as a heel until eventually they'll be cheering for him like he's a babyface when he's still supposed to be the heel. That's when WWE could try to turn him into a full-fledged babyface again.
Imagine this: Reigns is a top heel for a few years and is slowly starting to get more and more cheers from the fans. It gets to the point where he's getting the cheers that his babyface opponents are supposed to be getting. WWE holds off on turning him back into a full-fledged babyface. They drag it out as long as they can and do some kind of a storyline where Reigns seems to be on the fence about what he wants to do and who he wants to align himself with. Reigns gets screwed over somehow and completely snaps and starts destroying everybody and everything in sight, very similar to what we saw at the Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view in December of 2015. Reigns went absolutely psychotic after losing to Sheamus and the fans LOVED it. After years of being a hated villain, Reigns could potentially become the huge babyface star that WWE has always wanted him to be.
The thing is though, as I mentioned before, Reigns just seems to be better at playing a heel than a babyface. Even if WWE were to plan out a beautiful storyline like that and execute it to perfection, Reigns would probably have a certain shelf life as a babyface before they would need to turn him heel once again. Going back to Randy Orton, this is exactly what we've seen with Orton over the past few years. Every so often he'll switch sides in order to keep his character from going stale, but Orton doesn't switch too much like Big Show, Mark Henry, and Kane. Those three switch sides so often that anymore it's almost impossible to know whether they're a heel or a babyface at any given time. Big Show has even publicly stated in interviews that he doesn't even know whether he's a heel or babyface half of the time. WWE has been careful not to switch Orton too many times, and they would need to treat Roman with that same kind of care.
But even if Reigns can only be a top babyface for a short time, he could be a great babyface while it lasts. WWE could ride it out for as long as they can before the fans would eventually get sick of him as a babyface. Then, logically, the next thing to do would be to turn him back into a heel again. Just like Randy Orton.
Time will tell how WWE handles Roman Reigns throughout the remainder of 2016 and beyond. But if you really think about it, there's no big reason why they should just kill his push dead in the water. They should absolutely give up on him as a babyface, but they should not give up on him as a top guy on the roster. Reigns desperately needs to just be an all-out heel and remain a heel for a number of years until the fans finally warm up to him. His future can still be incredibly bright and he can still headline a lot of pay-per-views and win a lot of championships. He just can't do it as the babyface that WWE wants him to be. Roman Reigns should be the top heel in the company, plain and simple. Let the fans hate his guts for a few years, and let them pay money to hopefully see him lose to his more popular adversaries. The sky would be the limit for a heel Roman Reigns.