In the latest edition of “Nuclear Heat“, Vince Russo spoke about Vince McMahon changing his plans for Roman Reigns after the 2015 Royal Rumble. Here are some highlights:
On how the Philadelphia crowd changed WWE’s plans: “At that point in time, Vince McMahon had chosen in his mind, ‘Roman Reigns is the guy. Roman Reigns is my next [John] Cena. Roman Reigns is the guy I’m going to push to the moon.’” Russo continued, “but they laid out the [Royal Rumble] match in such a way that almost Roman Reigns was guaranteed to get booed out of the building in Philadelphia and that’s exactly what happened. They brought in The Rock. They brought in everything that they could possibly do. At the end of it, the Philly crowd booed the crap out of Roman Reigns. At that point, and I could see it as a guy that wrote for 20 years, I sat back and watched. You could see that the gameplan changed. Vince, at that point, let the internet wrestling community dictate creative to him. And you could immediately see in Vince’s mind, ‘Reigns is my guy. He’s the babyface. That’s not going to change. You’re going to like him if this takes me the next two years to get him over.’ That’s what was going through the mind of Vince McMahon and you could tell, at that point in time, there was a change in the creative and they took a step back with Reigns in order to really, really rebuild him, get the people to like him, and get him over with the crowd. That was all determined by the crowd in Philadelphia that night.”
On how badly the Rumble match was booked: “Vince was in love with Roman Reigns and I’ll be honest with you. I agree with that decision. I like Roman Reigns. I like the way he looks. I like his intensity. He’s appealing to casual fans. He [has] got [professional] wrestling in his bloodlines. He knows and understands the [professional wrestling] business. So I thought that was a good choice. I never had an issue with that. The problem was they so badly booked the Royal Rumble.” Russo added, “they gave the fans no other choice, but to boo for Roman Reigns by the time he won that match. First of all, they put Daniel Bryan in it and he got eliminated and he was the guy everybody wanted to win. They should have known beforehand, ‘obviously, if we put Bryan in and he gets eliminated, people are going to be pissed off’. Then, the last four guys in the match, it was Kane and Big Show and [Rusev]. Whatever the case may be, with the four guys remaining in the match, you knew Reigns was going to win. It was the most horribly booked match perhaps I have ever seen in my life.”
On never thinking McMahon would listen to IWC: “I never in my wildest dreams, never, never, I would have put my livelihood on it, my reputation on it, my children on it. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that Vince McMahon and the WWE would start kowtowing to the internet wrestling community. Never in my wildest imagination did I think that the internet wrestling community would ever have any influence whatsoever on Vince McMahon and the decisions he was making, creatively, with his company. I never thought I’d see that because, quite frankly, when I was there, you didn’t even bring it up. It didn’t even matter. It was all about the millions and millions and millions of television viewers at home. Those were the people we wanted. The internet wrestling community was going to be there whether it was good or bad. They were going to watch the show every week.”
Jonathan Widro is the owner and founder of Inside Pulse. Over a decade ago he burst onto the scene with a pro-WCW reporting style that earned him the nickname WCWidro. Check him out on Twitter for mostly inane non sequiturs
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