Roman Reigns says he’s still not sure why there was so much fan angst directed at his character during the Road to WrestleMania earlier this year.
In a new interview, Reigns acknowledged the Daniel Bryan Factor with many fans wanting to see Bryan in the WrestleMania main event slot for the second consecutive year. Reigns framed the other aspect as it becoming “the cool thing to boo me.”
However, Reigns did not evaluate other key factors, such as the audience believing Reigns was not ready for the Mania spotlight or the feeling of WWE deciding on Reigns as The Guy before the audience was ready to embrace him.
Reigns indirectly pointed to criticism of in-ring work, saying “Anybody that says I have progressed and gotten 1,000 percent better, you’re lying. You’re a bold-faced liar.”
Reigns also tried to sound sympathetic when discussing how he felt when there was so much resentment aimed at his character earlier this year.
“When you deal with an Internet situation where all these people are attacking you for no real reason at all. You’re just going out there trying to entertain them, trying to give them something to get outside of their life, to get outside their reality and suspend belief for them. And then for them to attack you for no real reason. It’s not like I was trying to hurt anybody. I was just trying to do my thing, make my art the way I want it and have a good time and hopefully it reflects that,” Reigns told Brian Fritz of Sporting News.
“It’s just one of those things that once it’s opened up it’s eye-opening. It’s shocking, it’s hurtful but it’s just a part of the world. Just like anything else, any other form of bullying that the world’s dealt with, we’re going to get past it. Strong people are strong for a reason – they can hold that weight. God gave me broad shoulders because I can carry that load. It was a shock and awe factor at first but it’s a lot easier now for sure.”
As for the Daniel Bryan Factor, Reigns credited Bryan for his professionalism working with him on the Road to WrestleMania. He said it reflects the team atmosphere in the locker room.
“To this day he’s just a phenomenal performer. I think everybody who’s ever been in an arena – you don’t even have to be in the ring with them – you have an appreciation for him. Even if you’re not into him, you still have to appreciate him and it was just the fact of what was happening is he was the most over guy we had. He was drawing people and they loved him. And the whole ‘Yes!’ movement was on fire,” Reigns said.
“But at the same time, as a company, you have to continue to build other stars and build a future. I’m not a believer in that it’s just one guy. I believe in the team. I believe in having a great cast of good people and strong men around us to maximize the product. It just can’t be one person. I think (fan resentment) was a combination of me not being Bryan and just the Internet thing, like all the cool kids were banning against the jock.”
More is contained in Fritz’s interview with Reigns promoting the Summerslam Charity Auction here