Episode 491: Why Roman Reigns Became Loved By the WWE Universe By Being the Biggest Heel: Part 2


Okay, now where was I? Oh, yeah. Last time, I was talking about the WWE’s failed experiment with Roman Reigns when they were pushing him hard to be the main babyface of the company. While some of the blame did fall onto Reigns as he really needed to work on his mic skills, most of it is the fault of the higher ups of the WWE. They tried to forcefeed the fans regarding who to cheer and the fans just weren’t biting. There was also the timing issue of trying to push The Big Dog when fans were strongly behind Daniel Bryan.

Then, all of a sudden, it looked like Roman Reigns’ sports entertainment career was over. He had to take a long leave of absence as his leukemia had resurfaced. He even had to relinquish the WWE Universal Championship because of this. While it looked like it was all over for him, this was actually the catalyst of the WWE Universe finally getting behind him, not as a good guy, but the biggest bad guy of the company.

After a few months away from the ring, Roman Reigns made his triumphant return to the squared circle on the 25th of February 2019. This was an amazing thing to see and even more amazing is his announcement that he won his battle against cancer. A lot of fans, including myself, thought he would be out much longer. So, it was more than just a pleasant surprise how quickly he beat it. He was still a giant babyface but, this time, you couldn’t just boo him for a couple of reasons. One, even if you didn’t like him, it was still great to see him back in the ring. No one wants to see anyone’s career cut short. Two, what kind of monster boos someone who beat cancer? This was oddly Roman Reigns’ first step to becoming liked.

Things then turned when he had to leave once again when COVID hit. We understood why he decided to isolate himself and self-quarantine because his immune system wasn’t still 100% so it was dangerous for him to go to places with a lot of people. This included the WWE’s Performance Center. He did eventually return, spoiling The Fiend’s win over Braun Strowman to become the new WWE Universal Champion. This was a shock because we didn’t expect to see him back. Also, this was a different Roman Reigns. One that was more vicious than ever, assaulting both The Fiend and Braun Strowman.

At this time, fans weren’t sure if Reigns finally started to turn heel. He did beat up Braun Strowman, who was pretty much the top face at the time. However, he also took out The Fiend, the latest big monster in the WWE. So, it could go either way. To give credit where credit is due, the WWE did a very good job of trickling down details on this new version of Roman Reigns. The cincher regarding if Roman Reigns was still a face or if he finally turned bad was when it was shown he aligned himself with Paul Heyman.

This, to me, was the missing piece in the Roman Reigns puzzle. I’ve talked about how Reigns wasn’t really all that good at doing promos. He was getting better but at a snail’s pace. Having Reigns align with Paul Heyman, probably the best mouthpiece in the WWE today, was an immediate fix to this problem. All the heavy lifting could be done by Paul Heyman and all Reigns would have to do is punctuate it with short speeches for emphasis.

Things were on the rise for Roman Reigns now. He won the WWE Universal Championship by pinning Braun Strowman during a Triple Threat match at Payback, getting the belt from The Fiend. It was then he debuted his new attitude as the Tribal Chief. He had to then defend the Universal Championship against Jey Uso, his own cousin. This ignited a feud between him and The Usos. Reigns then fought Jey Uso in an I Quit match, with the stipulation that, if Reigns won, Jey would have to follow whatever the Tribal Chief ordered him to do. Reigns won but only because Jimmy Uso threw in the towel. Still, the stipulation stuck and Jey Uso became Roman Reigns’ lackey.

Reigns then slowly but surely changed The Usos, as they did find there were benefits of being aligned with each other. The Usos were already the Smackdown Tag Team Champions and Reigns was the reigning WWE Universal Champion but they both wanted more. Now called the Bloodline, they then set their sights on RAW and taking the titles from that show. This started a feud between Reigns and Brock Lesnar, who was the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion on the RAW side. This did lead to an interesting twist as viewers had no idea if Paul Heyman, who used to be Brock Lesnar’s advocate. This was all cleared up at WrestleMania 38, with Heyman helping out Reigns and allowing Reigns to win both the top belts on both RAW and Smackdown, becoming the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion. The Usos also won the RAW Tag Team Championships later on to also unify both Tag Team Championships. The Bloodline had most of the gold by now.

With all of this going on, you would think fans would hate Roman Reigns and the Bloodline. Quite the opposite, in fact. While he was and still is a heel, fans are more behind Roman Reigns and the Bloodline exactly because of his change of personality. Actually, it’s more like he now has a personality. When the WWE was pushing him to be the big babyface of the company, there was nothing to latch on to. He was as generic as they come. As a heel, now aligned with Paul Heyman and also showing he’s willing to do anything to stay on the top of the food chain, he was oozing character. He became a more charismatic character and much more nefarious, using intimidation as well as charm to keep everyone in line as well as get new followers.

I think this is why people have fallen in love with the current storyline involving the Bloodline and Reigns in general, which is all about Sami Zayn getting indoctrinated into the faction. When it all started, Roman Reigns was telling fans to “acknowledge” him and, even though he was the biggest heel in the WWE, fans did! They would raise their hands to Reigns to show their respect for the Head of the Table. So, it only made sense to have a wrestler who wanted to be part of the group. It may have started out as a joke, with Sami Zayn doing all sorts of ridiculous things to curry favor and getting hurt along the way. However, fans were drawn to this story as we wanted to see Sami Zayn succeed. It did help Zayn was extremely funny, even getting the stoic Roman Reigns to break character a couple of times. Still, we all wanted him to succeed and, it may have taken months for it to happen and the storyline is still going, but when he finally got that big hug at the end of Survivor Series: WarGames, we got one of the biggest pops of the night.

There should’ve been some cognitive dissonance with the fans and what was happening. We should’ve been booing Sami Zayn for betraying his longtime friend and him aligning with Roman Reigns’ Bloodline. We shouldn’t have been happy when Zayn became more than just an honorary Uce. It shouldn’t have been the case but we cheered anyway. It’s all because we now like Roman Reigns. We all accept him as the Head of the Table and the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion. We should hate his guts but he became the guy we cheer for now. Why? It all stems from the fact that’s what we wanted all those years ago when the WWE tried to push him as the face of the company. He may be a heel now but Roman Reigns is the face that we deserve.


What do you think of WWE fans cheering on heels? Why do you think this happens? Let me know in the comments section below!


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