There have been several times over the past couple years when I was convinced Vince McMahon was going to give in and turn Roman Reigns heel. At this year’s “WrestleMania,” for example, the scenario was perfect for Reigns to embrace the dark side. He handed The Undertaker — one of the most iconic and beloved figures in WWE history — his second loss at “WrestleMania” in a match that appears to have been the last ride for “The Dead Man.”
Then, the next night on “Raw”, Reigns silently stood in the ring and soaked in the deafening jeers from the crowd. At one point, Reigns smugly motioned that he had the people in the palm of his hand. Since then, he has repeatedly boasted that the ring is his yard now.
Despite all that, Reigns remained a babyface heading into last night’s “Great Balls of Fire” pay-per-view, but if he doesn’t turn heel after what transpired following his ambulance match against Braun Strowman, then it’s never going to happen.
All the ingredients were there last night for a rare double turn. First, Strowman did nothing nefarious to win the match — he simply dodged a spear from Reigns, who went flying into the ambulance. Strowman outsmarted Reigns and made him look silly.
After the match, sore loser Reigns attacked Strowman and then basically tried to murder him by ramming the ambulance — with Strowman inside it — backwards into an 18-wheeler. When the bloodied and battered Strowman was rescued from the smashed ambulance via the Jaws of Life, he refused medical attention and walked away from the wreck under his own power.
The final image of Strowman limping away reminded me of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at the end of his match with Bret Hart at “WrestleMania 13” that resulted in a double turn.
After last night’s angle with Reigns and Strowman — which was a great piece of business and the highlight of a good show — I don’t know how anyone could continue to view Reigns as a babyface and Strowman as a heel.
Of course, it only matters how one man — one McMahon — views them. Will he finally pull the trigger on the Reigns heel turn? Or will he continue to shoot himself in the foot?
Based on McMahon’s treatment of Reigns to this point, it’s hard to be optimistic. I’ve contended all along that giving the crowd what it wants — Reigns as a heel —would only make Reigns a bigger star and more compelling character. And when Reigns inevitably turned babyface again down the line, the crowd just might be ready to embrace him in the role.
The other factor is Strowman. WWE has done a fantastic job of getting him over as a nearly indestructible monster heel, but after seeing his continued displays of freaky strength, toughness and all-around badassery, what’s not to like about the guy?
The double turn with Austin and Hart launched Austin into the stratosphere, as he became the biggest box office attraction in the history of the business. It’s obviously unfair to compare anyone to Austin, but it’s clear that WWE has something special in Strowman. Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar — the “Monster Among Men” vs. the “Beast Incarnate” — is a “WrestleMania” main event waiting to happen.
WWE is desperately in need of a game-changing angle, something that disrupts the status quo and gets fans buzzing. The spark was ignited with Reigns and Strowman at “Great Balls of Fire.”
Now McMahon needs to turn up the heat by following through with the double turn rather than extinguishing it with his stubbornness.