“We quit listening to our audience” – Backstage view on Vince McMahon’s trust in Roman Reigns
Former WWE producer Arn Anderson believes Vince McMahon stopped listening to fans’ opinions during Roman Reigns’ run as the company’s top babyface.
Despite being portrayed as a good guy, Reigns often received boos from the WWE Universe throughout his six-year babyface run from 2014 to 2020. He returned to WWE as a heel at SummerSlam in 2020 following a five-month absence. Since then, his character work has widely been viewed as the best of his career.
Anderson, a WWE producer from 2001 to 2019, said on his ARN podcast that McMahon defied his own logic when it came to Reigns’ booking.
“One of the things I did learn from Vince early on is, ‘Don’t shove a babyface down the people’s necks if they’re not gonna accept it,’ because they’ll regurgitate it. And we got away from that theory and we quit listening to our audience, because they will absolutely tell you what you want.”
Anderson added that WWE fans did not want to see Roman Reigns “spearing five or six heels” at the same time. He thinks Reigns should have worked as a villain after The Shield separated in 2014, leading to a face turn further down the line.
Vince McMahon’s mindset when WWE fans turned against Roman ReignsRoman Reigns
Roman Reigns’ 2015 WWE Royal Rumble win was met with boos
Although Roman Reigns’ babyface character received cheers in 2014, many fans had already turned against him by 2015. Arn Anderson thinks Vince McMahon’s stubbornness is the sole reason why Reigns remained a good guy for so long.
“The [Vince McMahon’s] 100 percent faith in himself that he can make any idea that he has a reality and everyone will accept it. That Roman Reigns was gonna be the lead guy as a babyface for the company instead of seeing way back when, years before that, that that’s not what they [WWE fans] want Roman to be. Roman doesn’t have to say anything. All Roman has to do is come through the curtain and be an a**kicking machine.”
Roman Reigns is set to defend his Universal Championship against Daniel Bryan and Edge at WrestleMania 37 on Sunday, April 11. The match will be Reigns’ fifth WrestleMania main event.