For a while now, Roman Reigns has been the face that the WWE (or maybe just Vince McMahon) wants to run the place. It’s no hidden secret on various wrestling pages and blogs that a good chunk of the WWE universe wants Reigns to turn heel. With the way his booking seems to be going, Reigns isn’t turning heel anytime soon, but I wonder if Reigns established a new niche for himself.
A traditional heel is a wrestler booked against the good guys, thus becoming the antagonist of the storyline. The heel is hated and booed, cheats in their matches, and is always against the WWE universe. Reigns is all of those things minus cheating in his matches. Wherever he goes, he gets the reaction you would think a heel would get, but all of his actions are opposite of what a traditional heel does.
Despite the lack of direction for him, he’s feuding with those who could be taken as heels. For a while he was in a back-and-forth with Braun Strowman. For a bit, he seemed to be focused on Kevin Owens when he was the WWE Universal Champion, but then Strowman came back into the picture. Then he started some sort of beef with Samoa Joe when he was brought onto RAW. His current feud with The Undertaker is one that is questionable to his face character.
To me, The Undertaker is neither a face nor a heel. He only shows up maybe twice or three times a year to start some trouble with a wrestler in buildup for Wrestlemania. That isn’t enough time to establish his position as a heel or face, but I guess it can be determined by who he is going up against, but that still isn’t enough for me. Right now, depending on how you look at it, in this feud Reigns is the heel and The Undertaker can be considered the face.
Whenever Reigns comes out, the crowd boos him, but there seems to be more aggression to it. The promos he cuts are still fair, but there is an edge to them. He comes off as a cocky son of a gun who is going to beat The Undertaker and reestablish who owns the “yard.” It’s almost like he’s a heel in the making, but he stays just below the requirement for a heel. He doesn’t attack The Undertaker in ways that would truly make him a heel. He doesn’t comment on the fact he wrestles 1-2 matches a year or talk about his big loss to Brock Lesnar; he stays on the surface, playing it safe.
(This footage has been edited, most of the boos were cut out)
I know from a business standpoint the WWE won’t turn Reigns’ character into a heel. It’s similar to why they never turned John Cena into a heel. Reigns is marketable to kids and for all the family-friendly publicity the WWE does. He does get rowdy, but not to the point where they can’t use him for family-friendly campaigns and events that promote the cleaner image the WWE wants to present. But maybe, just maybe, they could tweak his character just a tad.
At the rate Reigns is going, he can’t really be considered a face anymore, as he’s drifting into the grey area that a lot of wrestlers are finding themselves in. The grey area isn’t bad, it can actually work in ones favor. Bray Wyatt was a heel, in some cases one would think he still is, but he gets the reactions of a typical face. He is over with the WWE universe and cheered more than John Cena. He is booked in a feud with Randy Orton who is the good guy in this storyline, but a good chunk of the fans are rooting for Wyatt and want him to win at Wrestlemania.
In Reigns’ case, I think it’s safe to assume that not many fans want him to win; me included, but my reason is slightly different. It’s not coming from a place of legit hate for his character, but for wanting deeper character development. If Reigns wins his match at Wrestlemania, that would set things up for the internet rumor about Reigns taking on Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 34. That sounds boring, and if it happens, way too predictable. It would be better for Reigns’ character if he loses.
If Reigns’ lose his match against The Undertaker, this allows for him to turn into a guy who has a chip on his shoulder and something to prove because of the smack he was talking. Kevin Owens could start to mock him like he usually does and that could start a decent feud that could work. Owens is great on the mic and that could force Reigns to become a better speaker, so he could get his point across or at the very least, develop the anger of his character a bit more. No more lame lines, just fists or memorable moments that don’t seem predictable.
Owens is currently a heel and by booking him with Reigns, this will blur the lines of what a heel and face is, but it’ll be the closest to heel Reigns’ will get for a while unless he gets a serious character overhaul. Who knows, it might get him some positive attention or it might just make people hate him even more for being a petty sore loser. Either way, Reigns is a huge draw whether we like it or not. He gets a reaction like no other and thay works for the WWE.
Maybe he’s not meant to be liked by the fans, but I hope his match this Sunday changes that just a little.