If Fastlane taught us anything, it’s that WWE aren’t going to give up on the Roman Reigns push anytime soon. They are going to ‘make him look stronger’ and book him as a ‘babyface’ despite fan backlash. So rather than add to the plethora of articles lamenting the Roman Reigns situation, I thought I could try and help WWE out a bit by coming up with a few ideas of how to get Roman Reigns over as a babyface. Here are a few suggestions…
1) Take him out of the main event/title match
A controversial strategy no doubt but the anger directed by Reigns is due to the fact he’s being pushed as the top guy in the main event of Wrestlemania when many fans would have preferred Ambrose to be that guy. By putting Reigns in this position ahead of better alternatives, he is open to be lambasted by the audience. Taking him out of this position would show fans he might be the next top guy and the ‘heel heat’ on Reigns would die down significantly. Then the company can concentrate on building him back up as a legitimate babyface.
However this does come with a few problems. First off, they kind of have already done this by delaying Reigns’ coronation at last year’s Wrestlemania. It didn’t stop them pushing Reigns again. So whatever happens Reigns is likely to get that main event eventually. Also, the more you play bait and switch with Reigns, the harder it gets to take him seriously as a threat.
2) Get him over through in-ring work
One of the criticisms of Reigns during the last two Royal Rumbles, was that he was heavily protected in those matches. In 2015, he spent half his time in the ring resting in the corner before eliminating the last three guys. In 2016, he was taken out of half the match by the League of Nations then returned after Brock had been eliminated. Some might say this is because Reigns doesn’t have the cardio to perform for the full 60 minutes (despite his great showing in the 2014 Royal Rumble).
One thing Reigns has been good at in the last year is getting himself over by having great matches in the ring. From his unexpected decent match with Big Show at Extreme Rules 2015, his war with Lesnar at Wrestlemania or the solid Hell in a Cell match with Bray Wyatt, Reigns has proven himself to be a good worker in the ring.
So let’s take fans concerns that he was being protected at the Rumble and address it head on. I say Reigns should get booked in a one-hour Iron Man match on a RAW leading up to Wrestlemania. Put him against a solid worker in the ring – say Alberto Del Rio or maybe even AJ Styles – who would challenge him to see if he could survive 60 minutes with them. The end result will either be Reigns struggling through an hour match or proving to the world how good he is and winning over the fans’ respect through hard work.
There’s not a lot of downside here. If Reigns can’t make it through the match, maybe he shouldn’t be the face of the company anyway since Cena does stuff like this on a regular basis. If Reigns does succeed, it’s unlikely to be received negatively, even if he still gets booed after it.
3) Reunite the Shield
For me, this is probably the most reliable way of getting Reigns over as a babyface. The Shield are the most over faction probably since the Attitude Era. They were a shit hot act before they disbanded in 2014 and people still clamour for their return. Couple that with the fact that Reigns had the perfect role in the Shield. It made him come across as a badass, cool enforcer figure. There’s no doubt in my mind that a Shield reunion at Mania would get a massive pop by the Dallas crowd. To fantasy book for a minute, they could have D-Generation X (plus or minus Billy Gunn) interfere on Triple H’s behalf before Ambrose and Rollins come down to even the odds and triple powerbomb every member of DX before giving them the ‘suck it’ sign. A reunited Shield could also make for a fantastic storyline. The reformed Shield might be more fractured and less trustworthy than before, suspecting that Rollins will turn on them again. You could then insert a heel faction to go up against them in the summer months (I’m thinking Balor Club). You could also have Ambrose win Money in the Bank, Rollins win the Royal Rumble and Reigns as champion and then they’d disband to have the big blow off Wrestlemania main event against each other next year.
While this is likely to be a successful tactic, it does come with its problems. Once again The Shield would protect Roman Reigns meaning that he’ll have to rebuild himself again as a singles competitor when the stable disbands. It doesn’t really address the underlying problems with Reigns, rather just delaying the backlash for an allotted period of time. Also Rollins is still injured and likely not to return until after Wrestlemania. Though I don’t see this as a massive problem since he doesn’t necessarily have to wrestle to be an active part of the stable. At least for a few months that is.
4) Turn him heel
Wait, what? Although this is a little bit cheating, I do think at this stage the best way to make Roman Reigns a babyface is to turn him heel first. Reigns has got what I like to call the bland babyface problem. It happens quite a lot and can be fixed relatively easy with a heel turn. In WWE, heels are really allowed to develop their personality and a heel run for Reigns can turn him from bland to charismatic. Much like it did for the New Day. Much like it did for The Rock back in the day.
Once a heel develops that personality, it can get over with the audience, allowing that talent to naturally turn into a babyface without having to change too much. If Reigns is given time to develop as a character as a heel, fans will start to gravitate toward him. It also gives fans what they want right now which is to boo Roman Reigns and not feel guilty about doing it.
Is there a bad side to turning Reigns’ heel? I don’t know. I don’t have merchandise sales and metrics behind me. Personally, I feel it will be better in the long run for both Roman Reigns and the WWE and finally give them a legitimate heel threat the company has so desperately been missing lately.
So there are just four suggestions of how I think WWE can make Roman Reigns a proper babyface. It’s going to be a tough job but it’s not completely impossible to get the man cheered again. Got any better ideas, Cagesiders?