It’s a new year in the calendar (Wrestlemania to Wrestlemania) of the World Wrestling Entertainment Universe. So much talk last year was about Roman Reigns and the “boo boys” that surround him. From the horrible moment at the Royal Rumble in 2015 until this years Wrestlemania, the WWE have struggled and struggled to get Roman Reigns over. The fans just will not accept him.
The Real Reason Roman Reigns Gets Booed
Here’s a surprising revelation: Its not Roman Reigns’ fault. It has nothing to do with the fact that he smiles too much. It has nothing to do with the fact he hasn’t turned heel, and it has nothing to do with Byron Saxton handing him a blood capsule. More qualified experts (wrestling podcaster Sam Roberts and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin) believe those are the reasons, but have they considered the following issue?
This issue is bigger than Roman. It is bigger than any superstar and it is an issue that runs deep throughout the company. On the WWE Network there is a wonderful series about the Attitude Era and the Monday Night Wars between WWE and WCW – at time when many fans state that the product was at its best. What lessons did they learn to win? How did they defeat Eric Bischoff and Ted Turner? And most importantly what are they NOT doing now.
This is not to advocate going back to the Attitude Era ways – there were many things that were wrong with it and WWE are in a much better place now – however there is something that the current show has lost compared to itself 20 years earlier.
WWE looks in on itself far too much. When it comes to television the fans have a voice of attrition compared to that of the company. WWE has lost its ‘LIVE’ element. RAW was born because they needed an electricity at their show. They needed the direct interaction with their fans – that immediate feedback that only live television can offer. They don’t have this anymore. Wrestlemania 32 was a perfect example of this. Many fans left the stadium and preferred to watch the end of the show on their tablet devices, rather than actually stay and watch the show – and its easy to see why. The best way to interact with WWE at the moment is on Social Media. Wrestlers talk to the fans more on Social Media and away from the Live Show (meet and greets, Axxess etc), rather than interact with them there and then.
In everyday life when someone mentions the word “Millions….”, in my head I am screaming “AND MILLIONS”, as if I am hearing The Rock scream at me down a mic. It’s ingrained in me. Or if someone says “I have never…”, I reply with in my head “EEEEEEEVER”, the same way stadium upon stadium did throughout the late 90s and early 00s to Chris Jericho. But what do is there now? Not many. There are not many WWE wrestlers who actually ask the audience to interact with them in the moment. This is what separated Daniel Bryan. It wasn’t the fact he was an underdog. It was the fact he had the power to mobilise fans’ voices with two very simple words: “Yes” and “No”. It is the same reason Enzo and Big Cass are over. They haven’t crumbled to the pressure of waiting for creative to do something with them. They have mobilised the voices of the people. Fans love screaming “SAWFT” at the top of their voices. In fact Enzo and Cass are the first ‘throwbacks’ to the Attitude Era tha WWE have. They are at the start of a generation of superstar that will slowly emerge as the cyclical nature of the industry develops again and again. Another prime example of this is Bayley. She gives the whole crowd an Air High Five and a hug and they respond in droves. She is arguably the most popular woman wrestler across the entire fan base WWE has ever had, and all because she gives something direct to the fans in the arena.
D-Generation X used to stand in the ring and scream: “Are You Ready?” and the fans would scream along in unison. But now, we have to log onto Twitter to find out if Dolph Ziggler wants to fight someone.
WWE have changed the Authority on Raw. They have played around with Heel Authorities, Face Champions and everything in between – they have pigeon holed themselves in trying everything to get Roman Reigns over and to get the audience working with them.
Roman has an Empire. It’s not the Roman Empire. Yet. But put a microphone in his hands and get him screaming at the audience: “I’m not a good guy. I’m not a bad guy. I’mmmmmmm………” its not going to be long until the audience start shouting for him: “THE GUY”. He is related to the greatest of all time in this department; Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Anything The Rock used to say the crowd would be involved with also. Whether it is “Lay the smack down”, or “Whoop your candy ass” or “Millions and Millions”. The fans have a voice and they want to use them. They want to be part of the show. The chants at the moment go from being “This is Awesome” to “What?”. This isn’t because the fans aren’t being creative. Its because the product isn’t allowing their fans to get involved in the way they want. Daniel Bryan was the last wrestler I actually rooted for – and the only reason this is the case is because I used to sit in my living room chanting “Yes, Yes, YES”. I still love watching Wrestling, but don’t care about it. Its hard to care about each wrestler when you can not relate to them. The WWE has failed to be able to allow fans to relate to the current superstars. They have created voyeurs rather than fans.
WWE need to bring back the catchphrase. Let the fans voices be the same as the Wrestlers. Not the opposite. If you manage to correct this, if you promote this at your House Shows and your Live Shows fans will no longer be talking be about the boos around Roman Reigns and instead will be talking about the wrestling.
It almost seems too simple for WWE to reap the benefits of this minor change. Fans want to “Boo The Bad Guys” because that’s what wrestling is. They just need the opportunity to do it now.
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