As my man Casey Garner reminded us in his weekly Podcast Roundup, Royal Rumble winner and WrestleMania 31 main eventer Roman Reigns was the guest on Sam Roberts' Wrestling Podcast last week.
The interview was taped before last Sunday's pay-per-view (PPV), so it will bear watching if WWE redirects Reigns' less kayfabe interviews like this one away from the "haters gonna hate" and "most of my criticism comes from people who have never been athletes or performers" lines he's taken in the past. Taken by itself, the talk with Sam not only doesn't include the family first and "I'm just grateful for the opportunity" that he was scripted to say last week after the show in Philadelphia - it almost sounds downright heel-ish.
Discussing how WWE has booked and presented his character since The Shield break-up, he sounds a little like John Cena touting how the crowd's mixed reaction to him is an example of free speech...but then he veers into a weird line that pretty much says that the company does what it was going to do no matter what the fans do - and that he doesn't care because he's getting paid.
It's one of those situations where obviously the company is gonna do what the company does and the fans are definitely gonna do what they do. That's what's so great. The fans have to realize that as opinionated as y'all are in the way you want it - the company is going to do what they want to do, fans are going to do what they want to do, and hopefully at the end of the day I'm just the guy getting rich.
He's a guy trying to raise a family - I completely understand the desire to make as much money as you can, while you can. But if you're supposed to be a babyface idol, maybe don't hold that up as a reason why it doesn't bother you that fans aren't getting what they want? And, if you're looking to continue getting paid, you might also want to consider not pulling back the curtain to reveal that your boss' mantra "give the audience what they want" is BS.
NOTE: I was rightfully taken to task in the comments for not including the whole quote, and have corrected it. However, it doesn't change my opinion about what he said. I'm not outraged by it, but find it to be a poorly thought out sound bite if he doesn't want to be seen as a heel. Even in shoot inteviews with on-screen villains like Big Show, Triple H and Bray Wyatt, the company line is not "we hopefully make money pissing our fans off" and a face of the company guy shouldn't come across that way either.
Talking about the fan reaction (again, this is from before Sunday, January 25th), he's back on the "critics haven't walked in my shoes" tip. I guess he hasn't read Stone Cold Steve Austin's thoughts on him...
I'm aware of all of these things. You have to look at it through many different perspectives. For me, as a provider and as a man, I have a responsibility to provide. I can't look at it like and get down on ‘oh, this is what they're thinking and this is what they're saying.' To be honest I really don't care. I can only do my thing and do the best that I can. The majority of critics, I would say, are people who have no clue what they're talking about and have never been in a wrestling ring. They've never been a public speaker. They wouldn't even know how to lock up with me if I allowed them to. If I gave them the opportunity to lock up and tangle with me in the ring, they would have no clue what to do so for them to critique or ever say anything about any performer is asinine and just blows my mind.
Reigns says he does hear everyone though. And I think he's right that the universal reaction to, both in favor and against, his rise is a good sign for his future:
I see all of my criticism. I'm in a position now that I get a ton of love which is great and a ton of criticism which is great. As long as I'm in people's mouths that's all that matters to me. As long as people are talking about me...The majority of the time...the people that are critiquing and bashing me, they're making me more relevant, I would think. If you didn't want me around then just don't talk about me and try and make it silent out there. That's not the case [because] they make it even more overwhelming. You know, noise is noise. That's the thing.
But after the last year of guys like Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan and Sami Zayn proving that it's still possible to get a true babyface reaction from 21st century crowds, it's a little depressing to think that WWE's new model is to have a guy who splits a lot of (but not all) crowds and frustrates some of your most dedicated fans.
What do you think, Cagesiders? Do these comments change the way you think about the man behind the Roman Reigns character? Is a guy who gets a cheer or a boo out of everyone in the arena a better draw than someone who gets all cheers or all boos from most of the audience?
We want to know, so start typing below.