Paul Heyman Says WWE Wanted Roman Reigns Heel Turn Sooner But Had to Wait

WWE fans begging for Roman Reigns to turn heel became somewhat an annual tradition in the pro wrestling world. From his reviled 2015 Royal Rumble win all the way up until his cancer diagnosis in late 2018, vocal fans resoundingly rejected the idea of "The Big Dog" as the top babyface in the company. Many fans argued he'd be better as a heel to play off that rejection, similar to what Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson did in his early days in WWE. Those fans finally got their wish earlier this year when Reigns arrived at SummerSlam as a heel, and his recent work as "The Tribal Chief" has been met with widespread praise. During a new interview on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast, Reigns' "special counsel" Paul Heyman made the claim that Vince McMahon actually agreed with fans who wanted to see the heel turn, but couldn't do it for several years.

"I wanted it to happen for a long time, Roman Reigns wanted it to happen for a long time, Vince McMahon wanted it to happen for a long time, but the timing was never right," Heyman said (h/t Fightful). "Roman Reigns could not pull off this portrayal of the top star in the industry, even a year ago. He wasn't weather or seasoned or experienced enough. He still worked too young. Now, you look at his face and see some seasoning and weathering. He was beating the crap out of his cousin inside Hell in a Cell and he says, 'I did this to you when we were kids and here we are 35 years old doing this.' He looks 35. He looks like a badass 35, but he looks 35.

"Before, he looked late 20s, early 30s and he was still too young," he continued. "He wasn't grizzled and didn't have any scars. Now, you see the wars on his face. You see the pressure and obligation and responsibility and accountability and the sheer burden. That's the core word when it comes to being the top star in WWE. The burden and the weight and what it's done to Roman Reigns. Four WrestleMania main events, it would have been five if he appeared this year. It will be five when he appears at next year's WrestleMania."

Reigns will take on Randy Orton in a non-title match at Survivor Series on Nov. 22. Check out the full card below:

  • WWE Champion Randy Orton vs. WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns
  • Raw Women's Champion Asuka vs. SmackDown Women's Champion Sasha Banks
  • United States Champion Bobby Lashley vs. Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn
  • Raw Tag Team Champions The New Day vs. SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Street Profits
  • Men's Survivor Series Elimination Tag Match: Team Raw (Keith Lee, AJ Styles, Sheamus, Braun Strowman, TBD) vs. Team SmackDown (Kevin Owens, Jey Uso, TBD)
  • Women's Survivor Series Elimination Tag Match (Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Mandy Rose, Dana Brooke, Lana) vs. Team SmackDow (Bianca Belair, TBD)