A WWE legend has discussed how Roman Reigns was booked as a face, and why fans rejected this version of The Big Dog.
Roman Reigns is doing some of the best work of his career as the “Tribal Chief”. It is odd to think that the Universal Champion was such a polarising figure before his most recent return.
According to Arn Anderson, Roman Reigns’ babyface character failed because WWE stopped listening to the fans. Speaking on the ARN Podcast, Anderson used Kevin Owen’s first WWE story as an example scenario, explaining how the creative team should adapt plans.
On the topic of Reigns, Anderson noted that fans turned on The Big Dog because his wins didn’t feel earned. Noting that it didn’t matter how many heels Reigns took out, Anderson stated that WWE weren’t willing to change plans when it mattered.
Here is the full quote:
“That Roman Reigns was going to be the lead guy as a babyface for the company, instead of seeing way back when, years before that, that that’s not what they wanted Roman to be. Roman doesn’t have to say anything, all Roman has to do is come through the curtain and be an ass kicking machine.
“They (fans) don’t want him to be a nice guy, they don’t want him to be clever, they don’t want him to be entertaining and they certainly don’t want to see him spear five or six heels in a given time.”
“One of the things I did learn from Vince early on is, don’t shove a baby face down the peoples necks if they’re not going to accept it because they’ll regurgitate it. We got away from that theory and we quit listening to our audience because they will absolutely tell you what they want.
“I used Kevin Owens as an example. When he beat Cena, the first show he was on, the audience was 90% behind Kevin Owens. That week, creative should’ve sat down and went: I don’t care what you have written down for the next week or month, this guy is a baby face next week. Doesn’t mean we change his style of work, just means that we put him in a position to be the favourite in the match. It was so crystal clear that was what they wanted, give it to them.
“The fact that Roman goes out there and spears five guys does not make Roman more of a baby face. It makes him a God, and he’s not earning his position or push. He’s just out there running through guys and the audience smells it and they don’t like it.”
Roman Reigns returned at SummerSlam 2020 as a brutal heel. The next week, he won the Universal Championship, declaring himself The Tribal Chief. Reigns retained his title in the main event of WrestleMania 37 Night 2, pinning Edge and Daniel Bryan at the same time.
On the first night of WrestleMania, Bianca Belair pinned Sasha Banks to become SmackDown Women’s Champion. Corey Graves has addressed the commentary botch which some fans have claimed “ruined” the moment.
Quote via Wrestling Inc.