As WrestleMania 32 draws ever closer, much of the talk surrounding the event is about how fans will react to Roman Reigns and his primetime role at Dallas' AT&T Stadium.
The former Shield member will main event against Triple H and is widely expected to walk away as the new Heavyweight Champion. However, with fans continuing to boo him at live events there is as much anticipation about how he will be received as there is about the match itself.
That makes a message posted to Instagram by The Rock last night particularly interesting. On the surface, it seems to be the veteran star recounting his own 'Mania experience. Put it in context, however, and it sure sounds like The Rock is offering some subtle advice to his real-life relative.
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The Rock's Instagram message read as follows:
Considering his current status as a WWE icon, it is sometimes easy to forget the struggles The Rock had with getting over with the crowd during his early days in the company.
Wrestling as 'Maivia', he used to get routinely booed as fans failed to connect with a babyface angle. As The Rock alludes to in his social media post, this came to a head at 'Mania 13. Fortunately, that event was the catalyst for change and, as they say, the rest is history.
The similarities to Reigns' situation are obvious. Despite the WWE continuing to build up Reigns as one of the company's biggest babyfaces, it is almost a foregone conclusion that the Big Dog will receive a hostile reception during the main event.
Reading between the lines, it certainly feels like The Rock is trying to hint that maybe the WWE and Reigns need to change things up after the Showcase of the Immortals. A heel turn for Reigns would, at least, mean the constant boos made sense.
The idea already has traction in the wrestling world. The likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin have previously come out and suggested Reigns should follow a similar career path to The Rock, while Jim Ross recently said a heel turn at 'Mania would be the most logical thing for Reigns.
Whether Vince McMahon and the powers that be at WWE are willing to sanction such a significant character change remains to be seen, however. For years now they've been trying to build Reigns up as the future face of the company, turning him heel would be admitting defeat.
Moreover, while The Rock was able to win round fans with exceptional heel promos, Reigns has often been criticised for his mic work. Following in the footsteps of his legendary family member would be a tall order.
WWE fans: Should the WWE turn Reigns heel? Have your say in the comments below...
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