In the world of theater, a writer must try to flesh out characters for it to be successful. To achieve this goal, a writer needs to humanize a character, flesh out the character’s idiosyncrasies and cause the character to garner some genuine emotion from its audience. The best characters are ultimately the ones who can make you feel exactly the way they feel in any given situation. Last night, Roman Reigns did just that at the TLC pay-per-view (PPV) in Boston.
Reigns had another opportunity to become WWE champion in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match against Sheamus only to come up short once again. This time, however, he handled the loss in a way he never has before. He cared so much about winning, he snapped when it was taken from him.
Reigns indubitably has deficiencies, lacking the charisma and promo ability to commercialize himself on his own account. He does possess enough star presence, mystique and work rate to mask his deficiencies, though. His misfortunes have not been all his fault for the most part. They mostly have been due to WWE pushing him when he was not ready, pushing him over someone more deserving and over and/or improperly booking him.
Long story short, the company has dropped the ball with him on several occasions and in a variety of ways.
Similar to most protagonists in WWE, Reigns has a white-meat character with a goody-goody, irreverent temperament. He is supposed to be a man of good sportsmanship, someone who does not allow being screwed over, beaten up, or losing a match to get the best of him, and someone kids can inspire to be like.
This booking might sound smart in WWE’s head, but it simply does not translate effectively on television. After all, nothing is more frustrating than someone who comes off as though they don't care, especially when that person is doing something millions of others wish they could. Those characters translate into self-righteous, sanctimonious ones, not characteristics that cause people to want to rally behind you.
Furthermore, the booking goes against what wrestling is all about. In essence, it is about a hero seeking and getting his revenge on the despicable antagonist, who pays for his sins by sustaining the requital he deserves. When the hero does not appear to care about getting his revenge, proving the doubters wrong and/or becoming the champion, neither do the fans. But when the hero is passionate about obtaining his objective and shows signs of genuine emotion in the process, people will respect that and rally behind it.
Reigns was screwed yet again at TLC, but this time he showed the appropriate emotion in response. It propelled him to display his mean streak through unleashing justifiable pain on those who treated him unfairly and vehemently expressed those assortment of wrathful emotions by using exquisitely naturalistic body language, mannerisms and facial expressions. To no surprise, the fans rallied behind him and cheered on his exasperation.
They cared because he cared.
If we see more of this chip on his shoulder, more and more fans will begin cheering for him. But if he goes back to being the passive aggressive, smiley, oh-shucks character, more and more fans will reject him. Despite his imperfections, as long as he connects, relates to the audience, and has some edge to his character, he could become as popular as WWE has long hoped he would be.