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Are twenty years of WWE heel owner characters to blame for fan backlash to Roman Reigns?

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This is a bit of a luke-warm take, not because it's not a great discussion starter, but because it's about a month and half old.  But Lance Storm made some interesting points in the wake of Royal Rumble, and specifically how the Philadelphia crowd and the internet responding to Roman Reigns victory - and I don't remember them getting a whole lot of coverage here at cSs or anywhere else.

So, when I stumbled across them yesterday, I thought I'd raise them here for discussion with the best pro wrestling community on the internet.

Storm covers the topic pretty thoroughly in a post on his website,, but I heard it first listening to an interview he did with Jim Cornette on MLW Radio.  The quotes in this post are transcribed from that talk.

In a nutshell, the veteran performer and trainer wonders if WWE hasn't brought the fan revolt against their handpicked guys like Batista and Reigns on themselves with the narrative well they've gone to again and again since the Attitude Era:

Where they started the story basically being how WWE is the one who picks the face of the company, it doesn't matter who the fans like or who the best wrestler is, it's who The Authority wants to be in control.  And they've been doing that for a year and a half, almost two years now, and I think what compounded it most, was they then started turning the fan backlash into a storyline with the Yes Movement, the Occupy Raw, and they basically trained and conditioned their fans that you should disagree with everything we try to present to you and if you complain about it enough, we will have to change our plans and give you what you want.

And while Roman Reigns is not The Authority pick in storyline, when you blur the lines of real and storyline, you're then asking for anyone that knows the real story backstage - that Roman Reigns is in fact who they want to be the top guy - then, as per the booking of your show for the last year and a half to twenty years, you're then supposed to complain about it, dislike it, yell at The Authority and tell them 'no, we're not accepting what you're giving us, we want something else'.   So then when it happened, they seemed all upset about it, and they should be patting themselves on the back going, 'hey, we succeeded in conditioning our fans to reject everything we give them.'

He goes farther, saying that not only has Vince McMahon programmed us to dislike his hand-picked guys (an issue that has been exacerbated by the fact that more and more fans now know, or think they know, who his hand-picked guys are), but that they've encouraged fans to loudly voice their displeasure by promoting hot crowds like the so-called "SmarkMania" Raw crowds:

I don't remember what year it was, two or three years ago now, when the post-WrestleMania Raw - I think it was when they did the 18 second Daniel Bryan loss - and the post-WrestleMania Raw crowd was really, really rabid, they were voicing their opinion, they were chanting, they were Fandango-ing...they were doing everything.  And WWE made a huge mistake in my opinion, by putting over the crowd.

They talked about what an amazing crowd it was, wow they were voicing their opinion, they were letting us know what they want - they even gave the crowd a Slammy that year.  And ever since that point, crowds have been doing it more.  That's when the 'Hijack Raw' and the 'CM Punk' chants...I think a lot of crowds now, because they've been conditioned to, they go there under the guise of 'we're gonna go there, and we're gonna get our shit in, we're gonna get noticed, we're gonna tell them what we think.'

They're trying to become the show, and when you give them a Slammy and tell them how great they are when they do it, you're gonna have to reap what you sow when they decide to be that loud and vocal in the opposite direction.

Now, I'm not sure I agree with the crowd point.  I can go "grumpy old fan" myself sometimes when audiences try to make themselves the show, but I also enjoy wrestling more with an attentive crowd.  And I don't fault anyone who buys a ticket for their reaction, as long as it doesn't have as a goal to spoil the experience for others in the crowd.

Plus, WWE is promoting the live fans as a way to sell tickets to live shows, and may even be aware that it has effects on their booking but have decided the benefits outway the detriments.  I don't know, but I'd be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt there, a lot more than I will on their lazily returning to heel authority figures time and time again.

What do you think of Storm's theory?  Do you buy it - or even half of it?

If fans are going to loudly react against whoever their chosen act is, what should they do?  Only push heels?  Stop trying to push babyfaces and instead get behind the counter-culture picks the audience makes?

Curious to hear your thought, Cagesiders.