In a recent interview on The Masked Man Podcast, Brian Gewirtz discussed The Rock’s reaction to being booed with Roman Reigns, Vince McMahon not wanting to turn John Cena heel, and much more. You can read his comments below.
Brian Gewirtz on The Rock getting booed with Roman Reigns at the 2015 Royal Rumble: “It was sort of the same unspoken but spoken moment that I had with John Cena when the two of us watched The Marine privately in the offices of WWE….at the time, we watched it, and we just sort of gave each other a look. And then John’s like, ‘Let’s go get something to drink.’ It was kind of similar a little bit with the Royal Rumble that year. If you notice, Dwayne, DJ, The Rock, he is an expert at reading the crowd. His connection to the audience is what he’s most proud of and why he comes back and why we’re doing our NBC show too.
“If you look at his facial expression, he will never be one to, if the crowd is going one way, he won’t just ignore it. He kind of had the same look on his face if you noticed that. It’s in all the stills too where he’s kind of listening to the audience reaction similar to his match with Hulk Hogan in Toronto at WrestleMania 18 where he’s like, ‘Hmm, interesting.’ We didn’t really talk about it extensively afterwards, but it was obviously there. You’re not blind. We’re not going to sugarcoat it and go like, ‘Yeah, that Philly crowd. What are you gonna do? Anyways, the audience really loves him.’”
On Vince McMahon not wanting John Cena to turn heel: “Don’t get me wrong about Vince – he is the man and nobody works harder and nobody’s had more hits than him and continues to. His work ethic and his passion for the business is unparalleled by anybody who’s ever worked in it. But sometimes, we all get tunnel vision, and I think when it came to Roman, the model was John because there were plenty of times where the writers would come in and be like, ‘Can we just turn John heel?’ With the ‘Let’s go Cena, Cena sucks.’ Can we do it? Can we pull the trigger? It was something Vince never wanted to do. He considered it.
“He always considers all ideas, but ultimately, he didn’t want to do it, and I think in the end, he was like, to put it bluntly, ‘Thank God I didn’t listen to you’ as far as turning John heel because John’s the standard-bearer and made a ton of money for the company, and Make A Wish, and merchandise and everything. And Vince, I think considered by not turning him heel, not saved the company but made a lot more money with him sticking to his vision as a babyface as opposed to taking the short-term approach by getting a pop in the ratings or a spike in interest by turning him heel.”
On Vince using a similar approach with Roman Reigns before his heel turn: “I think the problem was I think he took that approach with Roman as well. I think it was the, ‘Don’t listen to people and trust your gut. Roman’s a babyface. He’s the new face of the company.’ I can’t speak to this exactly, but whenever we wanted to turn John, it was like, ‘Who’s going to replace him? Who’s going to be the guy that’s gonna go on the talk shows and be able to be the face of the company and want to do that kind of stuff as well,’ which is also a challenge. So, that might have something to do with Roman. But obviously, at some point, you can’t ignore the reactions. And it wasn’t ‘Let’s go Cena, Cena sucks’ with Roman. It was pretty heavily boos, even if you always get their reports from the live events, and it would be like, ‘Wow, the crowd pop for the finish, and they popped on his entrance. And there was a section of people booing.’
“At some point, obviously that mindset of we gotta keep Roman babyface like we got to keep John Cena babyface, shifted and in this particular case, it’s like similar to when Hogan turned heel in WCW. That was the right move to make and teaming him with Paul, that essentially established it. Do you remember that time when he was a tweener where he’s like, ‘I’m not a good guy. I’m not a bad guy. I’m just the guy,’ and it was neither here nor there in terms of what he was supposed to be. So you come down with Paul Heyman and again, it’s all about commitment. You commit to being a heel, that’s going to be such a more highly effective way to convey that character than just kind of let the audience decide. Sometimes, we need to decide and kind of plant the flag in the ground and let the audience react to it. So, I’m so happy for Roman to be able to be a heel now and thrive like that because you’re seeing it. He’s loving every second of it. You can tell, at least that’s what it seems like.”
If using any of the above quotes, please credit The Masked Man Podcast with an h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.