Lost in the sea of reactions to and opinions about the “Hey Bayley” incident of this past Monday’s Raw was another less-that-warm welcome for United States champion Roman Reigns in Glasgow, Scotland.
International audience reactions are always turned up a notch, in part because they don’t get to see WWE shows live several times a year the way most big U.S. metropolitan areas do and - especially in the United Kingdom - creative chants are part of the way their sports culture.
But the response to the Big Dog can be pretty loud here in the States, too. It’s gotten old hat, so it’s not the focus of every Raw review or house show report these days, but we expect Roman to be booed in “smark” cities like Brooklyn or Chicago and cheered in places where a bunch of 20 and 30-something guys who like to talk wrestling on the internet don’t make up the majority of the audience.
The reason I bring this all up again is because Chris Jericho touched on the subject in an interview he did with John Pollock & Dan Lovranski for the Nov. 6 edition of The L.A.W. radio show:
Listen, the guy [Reigns] is an amazing performer, he’s a great worker, I would work with him every night of the year if I could but still people boo him because it’s almost like the John Cena thing where that’s the cool thing to do. I think if you actually said why don’t you like Roman Reigns, people wouldn’t even be able give you an answer, it’s just the cool thing to do is boo him.
While I’d agree that’s part of the issue, I do think there’s other things at play, like resentment of the stubborn presentation of Reigns as top babyface and some inconsistent and lackluster writing of his character. Jericho doesn’t focus on those factors, however, because he sees it as his job as a heel to get Roman cheers.
Using examples like his refusing to put Roman on “the List” (a gimmick he says creative team member Chris Scobille, aka Jimmy Jacobs, came up with) or playing the foreigner (something both he and Rusev have done of late when opposite Reigns), the WWE’s first undisputed champ says bad guys have to be careful to not want the audience’s love for themselves:
There’s always a way to get heat, as long as you don’t get too far up your own rear end and realize holy (expletive), I’m so popular, people love me, you’re still a heel and until that shoe drops, it’s my job to do anything I can to remain a heel. If that means turning the tables and not giving people the catchphrase that I know they’re going to pop for, I’d be a mark for myself if I did because if I’m not supposed to be getting cheers, I’m supposed to be getting boos for as long as I possibly can.
What do you think, Cagesiders? Is the booing of Reigns just a trend, or something for which WWE “cool heels” are partly to blame?