During a recent WWE 24 special on the WWE Network, Roman Reigns was profiled before, during and after his match against Triple H at WrestleMania 32. In the special, WWE, which has been criticized for editing anti-Reigns sentiments, featured fans who were displeased with Reigns' victory. The Big Dog himself commented on that contingent, acknowledging that he had "haters" while praising those in support of him.
WWE could have taken the easy way out months ago by turning him heel in direct reaction to his polarizing responses. But with full stadiums of people passionately responding to Reigns one way or another, WWE has opted to become a bit more self-aware and book him as a hybrid, shades-of-gray babyface.
This was never more apparent than at Royal Rumble 2017, when he stormed into the match at No. 30, eliminated The Undertaker and came within one elimination of winning it all. WWE knew the anti-Reigns crowd would celebrate a Randy Orton victory, which could have otherwise been seen as a letdown with bigger names like The Undertaker and Goldberg featured.
Now pitted against the most beloved persona in WWE history, a potential feud between The Undertaker and Reigns is suddenly the most intriguing match at WrestleMania 33.
Several of WWE's feuds—from Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar to Seth Rollins vs. Triple H—come with a blockbuster appeal and a cut-and-dry storyline. But whether it's Goldberg having Lesnar's number or Triple H trying to extinguish what he created, no current feud will match the emotion of an embattled babyface trying to score an elusive victory over a legend in winter.
Despite the dynamic of future Hall of Famer vs. current top star, this hardly seems like a passing-of-the-torch situation. Too many fans will be vocally upset with a Reigns victory over The Undertaker, and besides, when WWE is ready to officially pass the torch to The Big Dog as its undisputed top guy, a win over John Cena seems more appropriate.
This feud is simply about presenting The Undertaker—whose dominance at WrestleMania is featured in its own DVD—with a believable challenger who fans believe can beat him.
Reigns' detractors feel WWE makes him out to be invincible. They count the amount of finishers he kicks out of and scoff—all while ignoring the Attitude Adjustments AJ Styles seems to be impervious to. Reigns is seen as the chosen one to many, and that perception gives him all the ingredients to be on the short list of those who can pull off a second victory over The Deadman in 25 appearances.
There is nothing WWE will ever be able to do to allow all fans to support Reigns as a babyface. Even if it did, how boring would that be? In pitting Reigns against The Undertaker, WWE is no longer using smoke and mirrors to force fans to support him. Fans care about Reigns, regardless of their opinions of him, and while that wasn't exactly the plan early on, WWE has adjusted accordingly.
WWE is like the carnival barker who charges customers to throw a ball at the dunk tank that Reigns is sitting on. And in that scenario, the carnival makes the money.
At WrestleMania 33, WWE will likely book Reigns to go toe-to-toe with The Undertaker and challenge a full stadium of fans to give him their best shots as long as they pay for their tickets. Win or lose, this feud will be filled with emotion, and it will help WrestleMania rake in millions.