WWE WrestleMania 32: This Week’s Sign That Roman Reigns is Turning Heel


Are small changes to Roman Reigns’ presentation since his nose surgery signs that a heel turn seed is finally being planted?

This is a wrestling blog, so it is our sworn duty to overanalyze every minute variance in a sports entertainer’s presentation, entrance, interview style, and oh yeah–their wrestling style too. So let’s spend a few hundred words discussing the fact that on last week’s episodes of Raw and SmackDown, Roman Reigns has entered the building not through the crowd, as he has since the early Shield days, but from the entrance ramp, just like any other member of the roster. BAH GAWD KING–what could it mean?

On Raw, there was a little element of surprise to the entrance; as the No. 1 Contender’s music hit, WWE World Champ Triple H, the man who put Reigns briefly out of action a few weeks ago and was in the ring running his mouth (as heel champs are wont to do), immediately climbed a turnbuckle to survey the crowd and prepare for Reigns’ entrance, ostensibly through the crowd. But no! In a calculated bit of “I ain’t playin’ no more” Chess for Badasses, Roman waltzed out onto the entrance ramp, throwing Trips slightly off his game before proceeding to deliver holy retribution upon the Champ’s head.

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On SmackDown, though, there was no specific reason for Reigns to kick off the show by walking out from Gorilla Position. When he reached the ring, he delivered a straight-faced, sincere, no-nonsense promo that effectively spelled out what needs to be addressed to sell a WrestleMania main event: I’m angry, I’m done playing games, and I’m going to beat the hell out of you and take that title. Short, simple, and effective: the type of promo that got Reigns over as the mostly-silent killer of The Shield back in 2013, and one he should never have stopped delivering if he was supposed to get over as a top babyface.

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That being said, the content of the SmackDown promo could have been read as a super-serious babyface planning more punishment for the heel who wronged him, or it could easily be read as a cocky heel talking loads of trash…which would be fine for a tweener character, but isn’t WWE trying to present Roman as a clear-cut good guy exacting justice for how he’s been wronged from the Royal Rumble onward?

Or…are they?

We’ve been speculating on various ways to turn Reigns heel, as has the rest of the Internet, including Stone Cold Steve Austin, who knows a little something about taking the path of evil in order to emerge as a beloved top babyface on the other side. On SmackDown, there was Roman Reigns, the Anointed One, telling his boss that “I’m just the man standing in your arena…in your ring…eating your catering on your dime, because I can, and I’m gonna do it every single week.” Out of context, independent of the previous history between these two men, does this sound like something a babyface would say?

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It’s likely that this is all empty Internet Nerd Speculation, as WWE has a history of muddling the presentation of their Top Babyfaces (and if you don’t believe that, there’s probably a supercut of Hulk Hogan’s eye and back rakes somewhere out there on YouTube to convince you otherwise). It’s perfectly logical to think that this was a perfectly fine Deadly Serious Face Promo and that it’s full steam ahead for Our Chosen Hero, Reigns, to stand tall as the “beloved” and heavily booed champion at the end of the most unsatisfying WrestleMania main event since Hogan “saved” us from Yokozuna.

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But, all it takes is one look at the New Day’s in-progress face turn to realize that WWE hasn’t forgotten that turning a character heel to give them a personality that can then be fine-tuned into babyface adoration works, oh, nearly every time. And it’s hard to forget that when it comes to presenting a compelling main event for the WWE’s showcase event of the year, they’ve gotten it right the last couple years and proven that they’re smarter than we sometimes give them credit for.

So, what do you think? Was Roman Reigns’ behavior on SmackDown business as usual, or a subtle seed planned for a big WrestleMania heel turn payoff?