In the wake of WrestleMania 33, Roman Reigns began hinting at the evolution of his character into the "Tribal Chief" persona, famously asserting "This is my yard now" after his victory over The Undertaker. Yet, for the following three years, Reigns oscillated back towards his familiar babyface character.
It wasn't until 2020, when a global pandemic forced a break in WWE programming, that the company seized the opportunity to facilitate Reigns' full transition into a heel persona.
Road Dogg Defends Reigns' Transition
Recently, wrestling icon "Road Dogg" Jesse James reflected on this shift during an interview on the "Oh You Didn't Know" podcast.
When questioned about whether WWE had procrastinated in allowing Reigns to fully embrace his darker side, and if the transformation was surprising, James responded unequivocally, "No, I don't think so." James articulated his belief in the importance of patience in wrestling narratives, despite today's culture of immediacy.
"You gotta let stuff sit, you gotta let stuff simmer...Sometimes you gotta sit on this, and see which way the wind blows," James shared. It seems the proverbial wind blew favourably for WWE, as James noted, "Boy, it blew in the right direction, because look [at] where we stand now, and where he stands now — as an individual and superstar." James was adamant that WWE's decision to resist fan pressure in 2017 has paid dividends, evidenced by the fanbase's growing admiration for Reigns.
He acknowledged, "People hated him, they hated him. They hate him now, and yet everybody in the soldout arena, of which there are a lot of them now, acknowledges him on the weekly." Elaborating on this sentiment, James expressed awe at the fans' rapt attention to Reigns' every word and nuanced facial expressions during his in-ring promos.
He further lauded Reigns' nuanced performance in the ongoing Bloodline saga, proclaiming it to be, "the best I've ever seen in wrestling." James finished his remarks by commenting on a particularly impactful moment in the saga, "Roman getting down on his knees and crying, and then hitting [the low blow]...
that hurt my heart," signifying the emotive power of Reigns' character development and reinforcing the success of his much-debated transition.
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