Roman Reigns has been the most polarizing WWE Superstar for the past few years, but the tides seem to be shifting for The Big Dog during the buildup to SummerSlam.
Make no mistake about it. Reigns is still not the popular babyface management has tried to make him into for the past few years, but he is no longer being booed out of every arena he enters.
Monday's Raw even saw the WWE Universe chant "We want Roman" during the final segment of the evening with Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman and Kurt Angle.
The funny thing is Reigns didn't get this much hate until WWE started giving him a singles push. When he first debuted on the main roster alongside Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, The Big Dog quickly became the most popular member of the group, especially once the trio turned face.
The Lunatic Fringe and The Architect were also popular with the crowd, but whenever someone would tag Reigns into a match, the WWE Universe would explode.
Then, The Shield broke up and all three men went solo. Reigns stayed popular for a little while, but once it became clear WWE wanted to make him into its top star, people began turning on him.
Some fans blindly boo him because it's the cool thing to do, but those who offer actual reasons for disliking Reigns usually list one of three reasons:
- His promos are boring.
- He is not a good wrestler.
- People are tired of Reigns being shoved down their throat by WWE.
His promos were definitely a weak point during his ascension, but his mic work has improved significantly over the years, especially in situations where you can tell he is speaking his mind and not repeating words someone else wrote for him.
When it comes to his ability in the ring, the way fans think and the way other wrestlers think are completely different.
Lilian Garcia recently sat down with Shinsuke Nakamura and Becky Lynch at Ace Comic-Con for an interview. The U.S. champion listed Reigns as someone he would love to face in the future.
When the crowd began to boo, Nakamura shut them down by saying, "Everybody wants to boo him, but all the wrestlers say Roman is a good wrestler." Check it out in the clip below.
An endorsement from someone as respected as Nakamura may force a few people to re-evaluate why they think Reigns isn't talented.
Plenty of his matches get chants of "This is awesome" from the live crowd. His opponents can't tear the house down by themselves, so even the people who hate him will occasionally recognize his talents.
The argument about Reigns being shoved down our throats by management is the only one with any merit, but it's not as if we don't see the same thing with other Superstars.
Braun Strowman has been given more standout moments in recent months than anyone else on the roster. AJ Styles has been WWE champion since last November and wins almost every match he wrestles. Are they being shoved down our throats, too?
Despite all the negativity, Reigns has retained a loyal following, especially among women and children. He gets better reactions at house shows than he does at televised events, but we are beginning to hear more cheers when he comes out on Raw than we did at this time last year.
Roman Reigns @WWERomanReigns
No you just said something stupid and they called you out on it. My fans are diverse and extremely supportive. I can’t say the same for the small group of vocal men who decide to hate on me when they can just support their favorites. Either way, enjoy this 1 day of relevance.🤙🏽 https://t.co/QZVwBjh9aU
He has put together enough show-stealing performances to begin earning back some of the fans who abandoned him after The Shield broke up, and his mic work continues to get better as time goes on.
The city he is in plays a big part in what kind of reaction he gets these days, but more and more fans are slowly starting to get back on The Big Dog's bandwagon.
With any luck, WWE will do more to make everyone hate Lesnar enough to give Reigns a good reaction when he inevitably wins the Universal Championship title at SummerSlam.
What do you think? Does Reigns deserve all the criticism he gets? What makes you like or dislike him?