The boos for Roman Reigns are deafening, and seemingly get louder and louder by the week. Yet, World Wrestling Entertainment continues to be committed to "the Guy" as its World Heavyweight champion.
Former WWE superstars and front-office brass aren't surprised by the company's effort to get Reigns over as a babyface. In fact, they say it's typical Vince McMahon mentality. Earlier this week, Bret "the Hitman" Hart said Mr. McMahon shoving Reigns down the WWE Universe's throats is comparable to what the company's CEO did back in 1994 with Lex Luger, making him a Royal Rumble co-winner and featuring him in the WrestleMania X double main event.
Vince Russo, a former head writer for WWE, claims he also experienced the same with Mr. McMahon trying to force his deep-rooted babyface rationale on certain superstars throughout the history of the company.
"It's Vince. In Vince's mind, it's Bruno [Sammartino]. It's [Bob] Backlund. Look at his history. He's done it over and over and over again," Russo recently said on the PWI Podcast, as reported by WrestlingInc.com. "Kevin Nash was this killer who beat Bob Backlund in like eight seconds in Madison Square Garden. I was the editor at the WWF Magazine at the time. Diesel wins the belt.
"The next thing I know, Vince wants a picture of him on the cover of the WWF Magazine smiling like a Cheshire cat," he continued. "And I remember arguing with Vince at the time, saying 'What are you doing? This is not the character.' And Vince wanted the white bread babyface. From there, it was Shawn Michaels' turn."
About the Heartbreak Kid, Russo said it was a constant back-and-forth struggle with Vince to let Michaels be who he is and not who the company was trying to force on fans.
"I remember Vince had me write every single promo for Shawn when they did the house show promos. Vince wanted every single promo being that white bread babyface promo. And I sat there with Shawn for hours and it was so difficult and hard for Shawn to do, because he wasn't that guy," Russo said. "After that it was the Rock."
All this being said, Russo isn't even in the least bit surprised by Reigns' current situation and the company keeping him champ, despite the uproar of the WWE Universe.
"Here we are with Roman Reigns 25, 30 years later. He's doing the exact same thing, because Vince, at 70 years old, really believes that the 1970s philosophy is going to work today," Russo said. "It's all he knows. He's repeating it over and over again. And there's nobody there with the balls to say, 'Vince, this does not work in 2016.'"
Love it or hate it, Reigns will be defending the World Heavyweight title against AJ Styles at Payback on Sunday night.
Russo's points are dead-on, if you ask us. In doing away with the Attitude Era, McMahon still could have had John Cena and Reigns turn heel a long time ago, but has relented to do so to seemingly appeal to children ... even if it means drawing the ire from WWE's older audience.