It’s no secret that Roman Reigns is among the most polarizing wrestlers in the WWE. His journey from despised villain to heroic babyface was a divisive one, as many fans believed that the company was forcing it, rather than letting Reigns’ journey play out organically. He was named the Most Hated Wrestler of the Year by Pro Wrestling Magazine, a first for a heroic character, and Vince McMahon’s insistence on pushing Reigns has led many, including Pro Wrestling Torch, to wonder whether McMahon is engaged in “a war on fans.”
Reigns will be competing against Jinder Mahal at Money in the Bank 2018, and early reports have suggested that there isn’t much excitement brewing. Sports Al Dente states that Reigns v Mahal has a very low chance to succeed with audiences due to the fact that Reigns is a disliked babyface and Mahal is often talked about as an underwhelming heel.
A rumor that has been gaining traction as of late, and a possible solution to the ongoing criticism, is the idea that Reigns would turns heel after Money in the Bank.
In terms of Reigns’ reputation, the turn would make a lot of sense. The fans have already tired of the WWE’s attempts to make him into a hero, and seeing him rebel against those expectations, and openly jeer the fans who have done likewise to him for years would go a long way in fueling his popularity. Reigns is clearly a villain that fans love to hate, and finally giving them what they want could help set him up for the foreseeable future.
Assuming that Reigns will face off against Brock Lesnar at the next, it would also allow the WWE to bolster the former’s image while allowing the latter, currently among the biggest names in the sport, at the top for a little while longer. In the event Reigns doesn’t turn heel, and he loses to Lesnar again, the WWE runs the risk of making their favorite babyface into a has-been.
Business wise, it makes the most sense. Forbes reports that WWE ratings have been down as of late, and few things are as big a boost to ratings as a superstar turning heel at the right time. If WWE were to make such a move, than Reigns would be the perfect choice.
The fans aren’t the only ones who have pushed for Reigns’ turn. WWE legend Bobby Fulton criticized the wrestler on a recent episode of the Pancakes and Powerslams Podcast, saying “If he can’t get over as a babyface and the people are booing him, fire him! Get rid of him or turn him heel. He’s not getting the job done.” He added that the WWE has to “Make a change somewhere. People just ain’t buying Roman Reigns.” During a recent episode of The Steve Austin Show, the namesake host also weighed in on the benefits of making Reigns a villain again:
So what do you do with Roman Reigns at this point? For him to have the biggest run… you’ve got to turn him heel, and he’s got to perform and let loose. He needs to be aggressive and go out there: ‘This is what you wanted; this what you get. I don’t need your damn support.’ He needs to bring a mean streak and go on a total heel run.
Reigns has yet to acknowledge Fulton’s comments, but he has responded to Austin’s, telling WWE he appreciates the Hall of Famer’s stance, but that a heel turn isn’t that easy to orchestrate.
“I think everybody has their opinion,” he said, “Like ice cream. everybody has their flavor, everybody has their opinion.” Reigns went on to say:
It’s Stone Cold Steve Austin. He definitely knows the area and the territory that I’m in. He knows what it’s like to pull the trigger and be a workhorse. So I think there’s definitely a lot of truth in what he has to say and I value his opinion. Is it going to happen? I can’t guarantee that. It’s one of those situations where you kind of take it week by week and just understand the role.
Despite his rejection of Austin’s proposal, Reigns has spoken more candidly about turning heel and what it would take to get him to do so. In May, he told GiveMeSport radio host Alex McCarthy that he would consider turning heel against under one very specific condition. “You want me to turn heel?”, Reigns was quoted as saying on May 14th, “Put me with Daniel Bryan.” The wrestler went on to call Bryan “One of the best to ever step inside the ring.” This leaves the door open in the event that the company decide to go forward the a heel turn.
As it stands, we will have to wait and see what WWE and Roman Reigns has in store.