WWE fans are gearing up for the company’s biggest annual event: WrestleMania. The top WWE superstars will face off this Sunday in Orlando in an event that the company spends the entire year building towards. One of the biggest matches on the card features WWE superstars The Undertaker squaring off against Roman Reigns.
Thanks to Reigns, the company finds itself in what can arguably be considered a creative conundrum. For the last three years, the company has pushed Reigns as a top “babyface,” otherwise known as a “good guy.” However, whenever Reigns enters an arena he’s consistently met by a deafening chorus of “boo’s” from the crowd that would make the casual observer think that Reigns is indeed a “heel” or “bad guy.”
We talked to Jeff Ashworth, editor of “The WWE Official Book of Rules,” which was written by Jeremy Brown, Trevor Courneen, and Carlos Mejia and illustrated by Nick Harran. Ashworth worked as a digital writer for WWE from 2009 to 2012, and he thinks that the problem with Roman Reigns may not necessarily be a problem at all.
WrestleMania airs Sunday, April 2 at 7 pm ET live on WWE Network.
Following is a transcript of the video.
You can write a character, whether you’re writing for a drama or a comedy. It doesn’t matter. You can write them how you want. But you can’t dictate how the audience is gonna perceive that character.
In the case of Roman Reigns, I think there is a subset of the fanbase that doesn’t like to be force-fed — doesn’t like to be told “this is the guy we should be cheering for.”
And you can see that in the way fans respond to John Cena, who’s clearly a good guy and has been for decades.
WWE is unique in that they have a group of fans who are young children. They have fans who have been with the sport since they were young children and went through an evolution during the “Attitude Era” where the superheroes of their childhood like Bret Hart are suddenly being booed because it’s not cool to be booed by Bret Hart.
You can’t determine who people are going to cheer for or why. I would say that, on the whole, if you’re a WWE superstar, it’s less important whether you’re getting booed or cheered. It’s that you’re getting that reaction, whatever it is.
Is it easier, as someone who’s coordinating a television show, to know who your heroes and your villains are? Sure! But that’s not how the world works.
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