A few weeks back,the WWE held its Extreme Rules pay per view, in which World Champion Roman Reigns defended against AJ Styles. The match was fantastic, but Reigns was met with what has become a familiar response: a chorus of boos from the
The match was fantastic, but Reigns was met with what has become a familiar response: a chorus of boos from the sold-out crowd.
Roman Reigns is the most controversial figure the WWE has seen in awhile. He elicits the kind of passionate response usually reserved for visiting sports stars at road games. Many have called for him to be removed from his spot as the "top guy” in the company. Those people are missing the fact that Roman Reigns is the best thing the WWE has going for it right now.
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Roman: The Lightning Rod
There is no doubt that Roman Reigns' rise to the top of the card has been a source of controversy for many fans.
The WWE creative leaders decided to put a figurative rocket on his back and launch the young star into the stratosphere early on to his solo career. For many this was a source of heated controversy and debate.
They thought Roman just was not ready for the spotlight and some of his early mic work proved that maybe that was an accurate point of view.
The desire of the crowd to see favourites like Daniel Bryan coupled with some of Reigns' shortcomings gave his detractors all the fuel they would need to continually question his rise.
This acted as a way to build backdoor heat for the Roman Reigns character. With every win, his critics grew louder, the boos grew stronger, and the character become lost.
Roman: The Symbol
As Reigns' detractors grew in number, so did his confidence and a change began to happen. Roman Reigns might be getting boos but the company refused to step back from his push.
This is where the WWE might have accidentally stumbled upon the most compelling aspect of the Roman Reigns experiment - his ability to elicit passion.
In professional wrestling, the worst thing you can have is apathy from a crowd.
The job of the heel and babyface is to get the crowd to react. Roman Reigns has all of those archetypes wrapped in one person. Take for example his match at Extreme Rules.
If you hate Roman Reigns you watched the match with the hopes of watching him lose. Roman Reigns is your own personal heel.
He may not be a traditional “I’m the bad guy, I do bad things” heel. But what he is is the guy you hate because he represents an affront to your own personal wrestling values. This kind of reaction is perfect for the WWE because now you tune in hoping to see him dethroned.
The WWE may not realise it yet but they have created the most dastardly heel for the “New Era” of reality wrestling.
Because of this passionate response from Reigns' detractors, his supporters have also grown passionate about him. In many
In many ways Roman Reigns' supporters are helping him fight back against what is generally seen as an unfair attack on the man. So, now if you like Reigns you show up to watch the Pay Per View with a vested interest in watching him win. His matches have a big fight feel to them.
For a sport that has predetermined endings to matches this kind of response in golden. You now have your very own personal babyface. Roman represents the fight against the snobbish elitist wrestling fans.
He is a metaphor for every fan that has been insulted on the internet, every person that has been singled out and excluded because they did not fit the mold set by the “in the know” crowd.
When Reigns stands defiant against an angry crowd and professes to be “The Guy”, his fans can stand right with him. He may not be the typical underdog with his 6'2 frame and handsome features but he embodies something more intricate now to his fans.
For the WWE this is a good thing because it brings more passion from the fans. And passion is what makes Wrestling great.
Roman: The Champion
Whether or not the WWE knows it yet they have created one of the most unique characters wrestling has ever seen.
Roman Reigns defies the traditional roles pro wrestlers play, he breaks the mold of the good guy vs. bad guy dynamic.
The next pay-per-view event is the Money in The Bank event from Las Vegas on June 19th. There the WWE champion Reigns defends against former champion Seth Rollins.
I predict that this match will have an immensely passionate feel to it. Rollins represents a very credible opponent for Reigns; he is someone who could be given the belt. This adds so much intrigue to the events of that night because it gives the storyline a new level of unpredictability.
Fans will tune in either hoping to see their villain destroyed by a guy they see as the best representation of their wrestling values. Others will tune in to see if their hero can overcome the hate and remain champion.
For the WWE, this is something to look forward to. Because to them whether you like him or hate him the passion towards Reigns means viewers will tune in and that is good wrestling entertainment either way.