In a fun twist of fate, WWE is finally getting what it always wanted—unfiltered, unending love for Roman Reigns in the main-event scene, even if that comes in the form of boos.
It only took WWE doing one thing—giving the fans what they want.
Imagine that, right?
For years, WWE crammed the good-guy Reigns down the throats of fans, shoving him in multiple WrestleMania main events and giving him big title reigns at times fans wanted to see other guys—or at least a different type of Reigns.
Because that was part of the problem. Reigns wasn't just stale, he would sometimes flirt with being this quieter, badass guy who could violently take down anyone on the roster. His ins and outs with The Shield were fun, too, but it was these brief glimpses of a more sadistic Reigns that really flustered fans.
For a long time, it merely felt like Reigns was going to go the John Cena route and just be the same guy for decade after decade. It seemed WWE wouldn't even let him have his own identity, as he still had the same old music and same old vest attire from his Shield days.
This all culminated in what should have been the most obvious of heel turns. WWE, of course, picked Reigns as the guy to put down the Undertaker one last time. It was the most organic set of negative reactions from a live crowd a WWE Superstar could even get, a rare, once-in-a-generation moment.
And WWE blew it. Reigns jabbed at fans a bit but didn't really turn, then got back to his same old ways again.
But something changed over the course of the last year. When Reigns was ready to come back from his extended absence, amid an ongoing pandemic no less, fans would have welcomed him with open arms no matter what he did. The man had battled back from leukemia, only to take an absence again, only to return again for the fans at a time he didn't need to.
Then he turned heel.
Since, the heel run has been amazing. It's what every fan who wanted the heel turn for years could have dreamed it up as being, if not even better. Reigns ditched the vest, picked up Paul Heyman as a mouthpiece—who is downright terrified of him—and switched up his moveset a bit in the ring.
Even better, the family-slant to his run so far has meant beating the tar out of those close to him. He's even leveraged the quiet nature of the fan-less arenas into spitting some sadistic trash talk to the opponents he's decimating.
Somehow, someway, Reigns now resides in that Brock Lesnar final-boss type role. The big bad nobody can best. In the process, the star power he holds and the job he's done has even managed to elevate SmackDown into being the must-see weekly show.
And that all comes to a head over the weekend when Reigns defends his universal title against Edge and Daniel Bryan, the latter name inserted late to make it a triple-threat after he and Reigns put on another epic showing at Fastlane.
Adding Bryan lends credibility to the idea he could be there to eat the pin so that Edge or Reigns don't have to and also suggests a title change could indeed happen after WWE made Edge the Royal Rumble winner.
But it sure feels like fans will mostly cheer for this epic Reigns run to continue, peppering him with boos while loving every second of it.
The wrestling world is funny like that. It's part of the reason WWE has such a hard time doing the right thing with characters over the short and long terms. Fans are going to cheer the bad Reigns no matter what he does. There is very little Reigns the character could do to actually get unique ill-will from fans.
But that's also the fun of the wrestling world and lends to the idea anything can happen when the title is up for grabs at Mania. Reigns the bad guy going back in chase mode for his title will get boos (cheers). Reigns the bad guy gloating about the win and moving on to the next thing will get boos (cheers), too.
For a long time, WWE wanted Reigns to be the top guy and have the unending love of fans. The company has finally achieved it, but on the terms of the fans (and maybe Reigns himself). Now all of the old feuds that would have been tired rehashes with the old Reigns are given new life, never mind what new stuff the company can dream up, too.
As the old saying goes, better late than never. And if WWE continues to play its cards right, the first Mania with this dominant heel Reigns should be unforgettable while setting up a stunning year for him and the company as things start to get back to normal.