Since returning at SummerSlam Roman Reigns has adopted a new persona as the Tribal Chief, aligned himself with Paul Heyman, cheated his way into winning back the WWE Universal Championship and beating and berating his cousin, Jey Uso, for not acknowledging him by his self-appointed title. The gimmick change is the type of heel turn fans had been begging to see from Reigns for years, but in a new interview with CBS Sports Reigns questions (albeit somewhat in-character) if he truly has turned heel.
"I definitely think a lot of the stuff that we present is very factual," Reigns explained. "A lot of people want to say, 'Oh, he's a heel.' And, 'Oh, he was a babyface," and this and that. I try not to look at it as that. I try to look at it as this being a character in a storyline and he has choices like anyone else. Some of his choices are going to be perceived as good, some of them are going to be perceived as bad and some of them people won't understand because they won't understand where he's coming from. That might be because they're not in the same field or on the same level, kind of like how I told my cousin that he wouldn't understand what it's like to be on top. I say it with love and respect, but he's a tag team guy. He never has operate at the top. He's never been WWE champion, he's never been universal champion. I have ... many times. I understand the grind and what it takes to maintain that, not only to get there but to maintain it. I think there are a lot of elements that are true and I think it's important for a performer to connect to the character they're displaying. There has to be shades of a real person in there. But, like you've heard every superstar all the way back to Bruno Sammartino say, you have to be able to take that to an 11 or 12.
"I've taken these real-life qualities and experiences and put them in a storyline," he continued. "That has been able to connect with our audience in a really cool way because they've seen me grow and they've seen my path and they've seen me operate on this top tier of WWE for a long time. For me to actually emote and explain the dimensions of it, I think they dig that and the feeling that the fourth wall is down from time to time. To me, this is Roman. He's not Joe. I'm able to connect to everything I'm doing now way stronger than anything I've done before."
After successfully retaining his title against Braun Strowman on this past week's SmacDown, Reigns will turn his attention to the upcoming Hell in a Cell I Quit Match against Jey Uso on Oct. 25.