Early in the night, one of the biggest reactions came as fans reacted, both positively and negatively, to Reigns' likeness being shown in a pre-show vignette. I sat in a press box as the boos pierced through Camping World Stadium like one of his vaunted Superman Punches, followed by an admirable rally of cheers for a man who has become one of WWE's most controversial figures.
Despite many fans watching for over seven hours, the stadium united in an aggressive response toward Reigns, which sounded like mostly boos from an audience filled with hardcore traditionalists who didn't want to see The Undertaker go away.
And while Reigns' victory will be criticized by some, who will use familiar internet talking points that he's being "shoved down their throats" and that he's "WWE's hand-picked choice," this is simply not the case, according to independent reports that cannot be credited to WWE propaganda.
Ahead of Sunday's pay-per-view, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Raj Giri Wrestling Inc), reported that Reigns is the top merchandise seller of any full-time performer. With John Cena set to take time off to further establish his footprint in Hollywood, per the aforementioned report, Reigns' stranglehold as the top merchandise seller will only continue to grow.
If that wasn't enough of a crushing blow to his detractors, at WWE Axxess, Reigns' VIP autograph session occurred simultaneously with that of Internet Wrestling Community favorite Samoa Joe. Per a report by Giri, which was supported with social media photo and video, a low turnout for Joe—and a standing-room-only crowd for Reigns—meant poor Joe's session ended a half an hour early to be used as overflow for Reigns.
WWE operates in a different time, one in which fans are as vocal and opinionated as ever and there are many shades of grey separating good from evil. Despite WWE's best efforts, AJ Styles is heavily cheered because of his iconic track record and the fact he's not only one of the best wrestlers in the world today but one of the best of all time.
Roman Reigns will always have his detractors because of what he represents—WWE's (rightful) choice as a top star—more than who he is. Even Goldberg, one of the biggest stars in pro wrestling history, absorbed his share of boos as he fought valiantly against an awakened Brock Lesnar.
In 2017, not all babyfaces are created equally, and the same goes for heels. As long as a stadium can be filled by over 75,000 fans, that's perfectly fine.