In 2012, Roman Reigns made his WWE main roster debut during the conclusion of Survivor Series, attacking Ryback along with his cohorts Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. As a result, CM Punk was able to retain the WWE Championship in his match against Ryback and John Cena.
For several weeks, many felt that Paul Heyman was the person behind the debut, but the trio (now known as The Shield) quickly began to show their dominance independently by attacking names such as The Undertaker, Ric Flair, and even Vince McMahon. Initially feuding with WWE superstars such as Kane, Ryback, Daniel Bryan, and CM Punk, The Shield remained a dominant trio for several months.
The trio gained popularity to the point of commencing a babyface turn, feuding with Bray Wyatt and his Wyatt Family stable and also the reformation of Evolution ? Triple H, Randy Orton, and Batista.
Rollins turned on Reigns and Ambrose during the June 2, 2014 episode of WWE Raw. Since then, Reigns has been a top babyface for the company, feuding with names such as Randy Orton, The Big Show, The Undertaker, Bray Wyatt, Drew McIntyre, Braun Strowman, and Brock Lesnar, among many others.
Romans Reigns Gets Booed by the WWE Universe
Even as a babyface, Reigns’ explosive in-ring work gained the interest of fans, as this was displayed heavily during the 2014 Royal Rumble. However, his time as a singles babyface wrestler started to get negatively received by the same people in the WWE Universe who cheered him.
Reigns, as well as many others, credit the 2015 Royal Rumble as the pivotal point when the fans turned their backs on him. Although even The Rock came to his assistance at the PPV, fans still were not buying it and wanted Daniel Bryan to win the match. Reigns expressed on the Cheap Heat podcast that the disdain from the fans could come from jealously of his success.
Since then, fans remained booing Reigns, using reasons such as his promo work and WWE “shoving him down our throats” as reasons why they are jeering him. Eventually, Reigns started soaking in the boos, even cutting one of the most hated promos of all time following his WrestleMania main event win against The Undertaker.
After a chorus of boos from the WWE fans, The Big Dog simply stated, “This is my yard now.”
Is It Time for a Roman Reigns Heel Turn?
Personally, I do not feel as if a heel turn from Reigns is a good idea at this moment. Perhaps in the future, but now is not the time.
Primarily, due to WWE finally getting what they desired in Reigns as a character, he is receiving more positive fan reaction than he has since turning babyface. Now, fans have a feeling of Reigns being an underdog, instead of the disdain of WWE christening him as “the guy”. As a result, his fan base has grown substantially.
The unfortunate real-life announcement in October of last year, which led him to take an indefinite absence from pro wrestling due to his leukemia coming out of remission, caused an overwhelming shift of support for Reigns. This also forced Reigns to relinquish the Universal title, which he won at SummerSlam against Brock Lesnar.
However, he returned to WWE in February of 2019, announcing that his leukemia is in remission and he is cleared to return. This led to a thunderous ovation from the fans, which stayed constant, but started to shift again around WrestleMania 35 during his feud with Drew McIntyre.
His underdog storyline with Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre led to the fans rallying behind him, and his current status gets much more cheers than boos. In addition, Reigns’ tag team with Undertaker at Extreme Rules helped garner cheers as well. As a result, WWE should wait a while before even considering turning him heel.
With the lack of star power in WWE as a whole, especially lack of heavily cheered babyfaces with the exceptions of Kofi Kingston and Kevin Owens, keeping Reigns as a face during a time when the fans are finally cheering him is a much better decision.