The suspension of Roman Reigns, stemming from a violation of the WWE Wellness Policy, has set the wrestling world on fire.
Speculation as to the nature of the violation is running rampant. For some, this news has been like an early Christmas present, whilst for others, the response has been more mature and humane.
There is genuine concern for the superstar and his career going forward, but there are three vital things the WWE can do in order to salvage Roman Reigns’ future in the industry.
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However, it will take the creative minds at the company, as well as Reigns, executing these things correctly, to make it work.
Make Reigns Heel
The first point is the most obvious one for the WWE and Roman Reigns.
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There is no secret that his solo career has been a rough ride.
Before his violation, Reigns was well entrenched in the biggest hijacking of a wrestling push in the history of the WWE. The section of fans that have made it their priority to make sure that Reigns does not ascend to the top spot in the company has become overwhelming.
It has not helped that the company continues to have Reigns play the babyface, which has handcuffed him and his potential growth. There is just no way to get behind a guy that comes out each and every week acting like the good guy, while the crowd absolutely despises him for it.
It goes beyond wrestling at this point, as a human being, having a crowd of people hate you in such a vocal way has got to hurt. At the start, it was just the internet fans hating on Reigns and his character, but it's now clear that that hatred has spread to live audiences and he is now constantly booed out of arenas.
On the RAW before his suspension, Reigns was actually responding to the crowds negative reaction when he responded to chants of "you can't wrestle".
His response? “Those of you that say I can’t wrestle need to sit down, sip your beer, and shut up”.
Where has this been all this time? It was getting to the point where the insistence WWE officials had of pushing Roman as a good guy, was coming off as ignorant on their part, or just plain sadistic.
With his suspension hitting the public, there is no other way around it; Roman Reigns needs to become the WWE’s top heel.
He needs to use his real life feelings towards the crowd at the forefront of his heel turn.
In many ways, Roman Reigns is similar to Triple H, both men were the target of fan speculation regarding their rise to the top. They have both been questioned by those that think they did not earn their position, but had it handed to them thanks to family ties.
For Triple H, it was his marriage to Stephanie McMahon, whilst for Reigns, it has been his family connection to The Rock.
Triple H used his detractors to fuel his passion, and now for Reigns, this has to become the fire that drives him to annihilate everyone on the roster as the dastardly heel.
Rebuild, Re-Brand, Repackage
It goes without saying that a heel turn would be a major change to Roman Reigns’ character. However, it cannot just be a simple 'good guy to bad guy' move, Reigns needs to be different in almost every way.
Reigns needs to get new music, a new look as far as his attire goes, and he most desperately needs to move away from The Shield.
Reigns needs to make this return count, he needs to move away from the memory of being the powerhouse of The Shield. He needs to be something else, something more akin to his name.
He is no longer a Shield for justice, but a knight of self-righteous vengeance. If the vest and gloves are to stay, they need to be played up as the armor of the ruler of an empire. No more smiling and giving the “hang loose” sign at the kids in the crowd. No more confusion as to who the character of Roman Reigns is.
He needs to represent the anger at being rejected, he needs to use the joy his critics felt at his lowest moment as ammunition for his destruction of their heroes.
Roman Reigns needs to target every 'indie darling' on the roster and attack them with malicious intent. No grey area as to who the top dog in the company is.
His move set should also see some tweaks, Reigns already has the swagger of a heel. His slow methodical wrestling style is perfect for a heel the crowd can hate, compared to the high flying baby faces.
Now he has to vary his moves to include some basic submissions. A Texas Clover Leaf, or a Rear Naked Choke. Perhaps a Jake the Snake style DDT, anything to move away from the ten clotheslines in the corner that is meant to get the crowd on his side.
No more playing to the crowd to try to like him, he should develop a few traditional wresting moves to throw criticism back in the fans’ faces.
Address The Issue Head On
This is a little bit of a tricky spot for the situation Roman Reigns has put himself in.
He has put himself into a messy situation, and now needs to own up to it and publicly address it.
If Reigns is to remain in the main event picture, he has to do somethings that might make him uncomfortable. He cannot just violate the company policy on substances and get his spot back immediately. This is a serious issue, the wellness policy is there for a reason, and whatever he might have used will not make him a bad person, but should be used to send a message.
The WWE could do this by simply talking about it, or by having Reigns, upon his return, address it head on.
Roman Reigns has made his road all the bumpier with his suspension for violating the WWE wellness policy. He is a talented athlete and by all accounts a good person outside the ring. This mistake on his part should not be the reason a promising career is derailed. Hopefully, something positive can come out of this dark period for the former champ.
How should WWE deal with Roman Reigns' suspension? Let us know YOUR suggestions in the comment section below!