How WWE made Roman Reigns the face of the company after John Cena exit

Mohammad Bilal
Mohammad BilalAug 03, 2022 | 17:31

How WWE made Roman Reigns the face of the company after John Cena exit

Roman Reigns with his manager Paul Heyman. Photo: AFP

After hammering Brock Lesnar in SummerSlam 2022, Roman Reigns has crossed the feat of being World Wrestling Champion (WWE) champion for 700 days. Lesnar's loss to Reigns also makes it clear that WWE has finally succeeded in making Reigns the face of the company after failing at it horribly in the past few years.

Why WWE needed Roman Reigns: After the departure of The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin in 2003, WWE was left with no big wrestler who could be the face of the company. It was around the same time, that John Cena emerged and the crowd started to accept him. From 2005-2015, for nearly 10 years, Cena was the face of the company.

However, WWE soon realised that they needed a face change as the WWE universe craved for more. That is why Vince got Lesnar back in the WWE in 2012 after he left the company in 2006.

Roman Reigns makes debut: Reigns made his debut in 2012, in the NXT, a wrestling brand introduced by current Chief Operating Operater (COO) Paul "Triple H" Levesque in 2010.

The company had zeroed in on Reigns in the early 2014 and it was pushing him as the face of the company. Reigns made his debut in WWE as a villanious character with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose known as 'The Shield'. He won the Superstar of the Year in 2014. It was clear that the era of Cena was nearing its end and the era of Reigns has begun. But WWE failed in its initial pursuits which prompted the crowd to boo and jeer at Reigns.

Why Reigns failed: The biggest reason which wrestling oberservers feel was the reason for the failing of Reigns was that he failed to get appreciation from the crowd and they thought he was being pushed by the WWE when he "didn't deserve it". Reigns was being made to enter the shoes of Cena but he did not possess those skills which had been with the likes of Cena and new wrestler Daniel Bryan.

For example, Reigns was heavily booed by the fans after his first Royal Rumble win in 2015. Even a surprise entry by his cousin, The Rock, didn't dissuade the crowd from chanting against Reigns. Several wrestling experts contended that the gimmick with Reigns was a big failure. It was one of the biggest debacles of 2015. 

The crowd went against Reigns in at least five big main events which eventually made WWE to rethink their strategy towards a man they wanted to make the face of the company.

Reigns withdraws from the ring: Reigns took a sabbatical from WWE in October 2018 after informing the crowd that he suffered Leukemia for the past eleven years. He relinquished his championship and went behind the curtains. He came back after nearly four months in 2019, but again decided to step back from wrestling when Covid-19 hit and WWE had to even go for a first crowd less Wrestlemania in the history of WWE.

Roman Reigns looks on during the WWE Smackdown on September 1, 2015 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Photo: Getty Images

The hottest heel: Reigns returned at the SummerSlam 2020 out of nowhere and speared Universal Champion "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt after the match. The crowd exploded with Reigns chants. On Friday night Smackdown, Reigns aligned himself with Paul Heyman, turning heel for the first time since 2014. At the main event, Payback, he defeated Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman to win the WWE Universal Championship.

Reigns then went on to clash with The Usos (who later joined him), Edge, Seth Rollins, John Cena, Rey Mysterio and Brock Lesnar. He was getting thunderous response from the crowd as he played the heel character. Reigns went on to defeat Lesnar at the Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia and Cena at the SummerSlam 2021.

Reigns as heel went on to defeat Lesnar in Wrestlemania 38 and became the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion. At the SummerSlam 2022 event, when he fought against Lesnar at the Last Man Standing Match, he conquered the match reassuring the fans that he was indeed now the face of the company. Though the win for Reigns came with an assistance from his cousin brothers (The Usos), the Tribal Chief etched his name in the books of history.

From Left: Jey Uso, Roman Reigns, Jimmy Uso and Paul Heyman. Photo: Twitter/ @WWERomanReigns


Last updated: August 03, 2022 | 17:52
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