Roman Reigns has remained a polarizing figure in the WWE since the day it was determined he would be the face of the company and not Daniel Bryan. Even though hindsight allows us to know that was the right decision — as Bryan’s health failed him — the Internet Wrestling Community has not allowed the performer a chance to win them over.
Oddly, he has been proving them wrong for well over a year now. Those “you can’t wrestle” chants can no longer be applied to Reigns in earnest. Between his various feuds — especially highlighted while battling AJ Styles — he has helped to put on several match of the year type of bouts.
Was that good enough? Of course not, but that’s mostly because the WWE Universe felt like the inevitable was going to happen — or, really, happen again. That Reigns would continue to linger in and around the main event scene, capturing as many world titles as possible despite the fact the crowd wasn’t taking to him.
For that period of time, it remained somewhat understandable that the IWC held such a disdain toward the performer. After all, no one wants something jammed down their throat when they are saying enough is enough.
This should — at least in theory — change now. With Roman winning the United States Championship at Clash of Champions, he has been firmly plucked from the main event scene.
Some will say he has been relegated to mid-card duties, or that this is continued punishment for violating the wellness policy, but the more optimistic of us like to believe that this is the WWE learning from previous mistakes and giving us Reigns in the least tainted form as possible.
By removing any idea of him fighting for the Universal Championship, we should all be better equipped to consume the Reigns brand from this point on. Whatever hatred fans had for the man mostly stemmed from the fact he wasn’t “ours” and that “their guy” was being forced on fans no matter the cost.
That’s not happening anymore. It just isn’t.
Fans should be able to remove themselves from that idea of what the WWE had planned from Reigns, and realize that he is semi-starting from scratch. That, yes, he is still holding a title on Raw, but there’s no need to be angered with the wrestling gods over it because him holding the strap isn’t destroying the chances of indy-darling of the week’s chances at being pushed to the main event.
This is not to say Roman is perfect and definitively deserving of fans’ attention, praise, or any other form of adulation. It’s just pointing out that obvious — that there’s no more subconscious excuses to hate the man. He isn’t winning the Royal Rumble, he isn’t burying a hot indy-talent, he’s not doing anything other than what he has already done, which is put on great matches. The only difference is that he’s now doing it outside of the precious main event scene.
Obviously, his character, mannerisms, and mic skills all still need work, but that’s part of the glory in him holding the U.S. Title. Wrestlers holding mid-card straps tend to come with flaws, which need to be worked though, and the case is no different for Reigns.
Anyway, we — the IWC and otherwise — are fresh out of angst. There’s no sincere reason to hate Reigns now. Well, there is, his character, but that’s as much the WWE’s fault as his. Everything else, however, is near pure gold.
And, honestly, if we are all going to trot about social media swearing how important in-ring work is, while balancing the line of “who deserves what when,” Reigns not only deserves to be the U.S. Champion, but we are unworthy of the brilliance he is going to bring to that title and its credibility.
If you boo moving forward, well, you’re simply booing to boo. All the reasons you swear you hated Reigns really no longer apply. Not a one. Now, let’s just see how this goes and whether or not Roman makes hypocrites of us all.