WWE Universal Champion, Roman Reigns, has detailed the evolution of his heel turn and how he yearned for such a change from as early as his Shield days.
When Reigns made his shock return to the company at the conclusion of SummerSlam and attacked ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman, there was something different about him. A tougher, care-free manner that we’d never seen before from the star and when he aligned himself with Paul Heyman, it was clear that this was the heel Roman Reigns we had waited years to see.
To back-up the change in character, Roman mercilessly decimated his cousin Jey Uso on two different occasions, attacked an injured Jimmy Uso and crowned himself, ‘The Tribal Chief.’ In short, since August 2020, this Roman Reigns has been nothing but a revelation.
Now, ‘The Head of the Table’ has sat down with Ryan Satin of FOX Sports to talk about his heel turn, how long he’s waited for this moment and the slow evolution of making him one of the greatest things currently in the industry:
“I’ve always wanted to turn heel. I didn’t feel like I should have been the babyface out of the Shield group. We all agreed, we thought it should have been Seth, and then keep me as a bad guy. But, you know, it just happens the way it happens, the numbers lined up the way they did. Things were starting to work as a good guy for me. Then, obviously, it took a toll here and there. There were some nights where there were some loud boos. People take that response and they run with it, because sometimes, it was at the shows that were big and that were seen. The pay-per-views – the Royal Rumble in Philly.
Just about everybody gets booed in Philly, you know what I’m saying? Philly is so loud they’re gonna boo Daniel Bryan one day. That’s how Philly works. It’s just Philly. But, like, people aren’t there every single week to see all the live events, to see how well the live events would be doing or the tours would be doing. We’d be selling out houses and I’d be the top babyface, crowd going nuts, cheering the hell out of me.”
Continuing his story, Reigns told of how he knew there was something different to tap into and how he was ready to create different layers to his new persona:
“So, it was one of those things where it was like, “Man, I want to do this because I know I can tap into a different level of character work. I know I can create so many more layers as a performer if they allow me to do this, but the numbers just wouldn’t let me.” Like I said before, the response, no matter what, was always big. And in this day and age, I think, controversy has always sold, but, if you don’t have a certain level of negativity coming at you, you might not be doing as good as you think you are.
If you don’t have that many haters. I think Kobe said it, “You gotta have some haters.” That’s the key to success sometimes. But, I think the true key to that success is how you handle the haters. How you, in your psyche, you can allow them to affect you or not affect you. But, yeah, man, I wanted to for a long time.”
Stepping away from the industry when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, even though it meant missing out on a top-tier bout with Goldberg at WrestleMania 36, Reigns not only made sure his family was safe but also had enough time to believably develop a chip on his shoulder:
“When the opportunity came I jumped on it. It was kind of a team discussion. Obviously, you gotta have the big man involved and gotta have the blessing from him. But, it just all seemed to work out with perfect timing. I think we’re in a point where we’re in a time frame, being in a pandemic, no crowds, no tickets sales, let’s just create this content and take care of our television providers and our audiences watching at home. Let’s take a chance. If this ain’t the time to gamble, then I don’t know when is. So, I’m glad we did.”
Currently, Roman Reigns is slated to defend his WWE Universal Championship against Kevin Owens in a Last Man Standing Match at the Royal Rumble on January 31.
Credit for the interview and transcription: FOX Sports