Even if you’re not a fan of sweaty man grappling, the inner workings of the WWE are an undeniably rich source of entertainment. From that time the head of the company wrestled God himself to the faux censoring of a t-shirt to sell more merchandise, the WWE an endless well of ridiculous bullshit. Today we’re hear to talk about how the WWE tried (and failed spectacularly) to push a wrestler nobody liked as the next face of the company.
Before that though, a crash course on wrestling jargon for anyone unfamiliar with it.
Now for the most part the world of pro wrestling is roughly analogous with any other entertainment medium, in that it has clearly defined good and bad guys. The main difference being that in wrestling bad guys are called heels and good guys are called faces. Like with any other media, faces and heels exist on a spectrum and can have a range of motivations or hold conflicting values.
While a wrestler’s given alignment can develop organically in response to fan feedback, for the most part whether or not they’re good or bad is decided months in advance by the WWE. A major issue with this however is that WWE writers have to assume what the reaction from fans will be.
Normally this isn’t that much of an issue because wrestlers tend to have fairly one dimensional gimmicks and it’s easy enough to sway public opinion by one way or the other by making them use or be the victim of dirty tactics. Every now and again though there will be an outlier, which brings us to Roman Reigns.
Initially portrayed as a quiet enforcer type during his early days with the WWE to moderate success, the network reportedly put plans in motion to push Reigns as being the next face of the company some time in 2015. To this end they began to portray Reigns as a heroic underdog fighting against the odds and put him at the forefront of numerous high-profile events. The problem was, nobody fucking liked him.
Criticised for his poor move repertoire and utter lack of charisma, Reigns was consistently voted one of the most overrated wrestlers on the WWE’s payroll by fans and his matches were invariably slated by reviewers as being, well, shit. The WWE rather than admitting that maybe Reigns wasn’t the best choice of person to represent their company, instead doubled the fuck down and pushed Reigns even harder. Something fans responded to by booing the shit out of him whenever he appeared on stage and holding up signs calling him a wank pheasant.
This in of itself wouldn’t have been a problem if the WWE had tried to push Reigns as a bad guy, but they weren’t, they were trying to put him forward as an underdog that fans wanted to cradle the balls of. Something that’s kind of hard to believe when a crowd of 80,000 is raining down thunderous boos over footage of him helping a kid dying of a terminal disease. That actually happened by the way. In April 2016 the WWE tried to soften the image of Reigns by showing pre-recorded footage of him meeting with a child from the Make A Wish Foundation shortly before one of his matches and fans still fucking booed him. Say what you want, that’s some dedicated hate right there.
The problem got so bad that the WWE actually began editing footage of Reigns’ matches to tone down the volume of boos and reportedly even began piping in the sound of fake cheers to make him sound more popular. Security were also told to be on the look out for and confiscate fans making fun of Reigns and in one instance the network were even caught altering photos of one of his matches to remove a sign calling him boring that slipped through the net. Shit, they even went as far as changing the color of Reigns’ eyes, from brown to blue to make him more likeable and it still did work.
We actually don’t have a way to end this article because at the time of writing it’s still an issue and the WWE have yet to resolve the problem of what to do with this walking black hole of charisma. We just couldn’t sit by and not tell you about a guy so unpopular crowds booed him helping terminally ill children.