WWE SummerSlam 2017 will end in a flurry of fireworks, confetti and thundering jeers should Roman Reigns seize the Universal Championship.
Of the four hosses set to battle in the Fatal 4-Way match that will headline Sunday’s pay-per-view, Reigns is the most polarizing. His supporters steadfastly defend him; his detractors boo him mercilessly.
And if his latest crowning moment happens inside the Barclays Center, WWE won’t be happy with the reaction.
Will @BrockLesnar prevail when defends his #UniversalTitle against @SamoaJoe, @BraunStrowman and @WWERomanReigns at #SummerSlam? #SDLive https://t.co/T6K2xb2dnO
For one, Brooklyn, New York, is a fanbase heavy with “smarks,” the same diehard portion of the audience that has pushed back against Reigns’ rise. Like Chicago, Philadelphia and Toronto, the Brooklyn crowd is often outspoken, favors internet darlings and has seemingly made a sport of booing Reigns.
When Raw traveled to the Barclays Center last August, the fans treated The Big Dog like the heel despite him going up against the conniving, villainous Chris Jericho.
Reigns bowled over Jericho with a shoulder block and boos rained down. Jericho locked his foe in the Walls of Jericho and the crowd roared in approval.
Against Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe at SummerSlam, Reigns can expect the same treatment.
A good number of fans will be rooting for Joe and Strowman to emerge with the universal title in hand. Joe’s lengthy journey to this point, through Ring of Honor, TNA and Japan, makes him easy to pull for. He has immense street cred, so to speak, with diehard fans.
The hosts of the Tights and Fights podcast are clearly behind Joe:
Tights And Fights @TightsFights
Solidly, 1000% in @SamoaJoe’s corner for this Sunday. Gotta cheer for the So Cal champ. Who ya got? #SummerSlam https://t.co/UZQmilWqDx
And they aren’t alone. Corey Jacobs of WrestlingNews.co wrote an article entitled “It’s Time for WWE to Put the Universal Championship on Samoa Joe.” Daily DDT’s Alexander Podgorski posted five reasons Joe should win on Sunday.
There’s a similar push for Strowman to take the crown.
His destructive ways on Raw have endeared him to fans in a big way. He’s become the red brand’s monstrous anti-hero.
The Busted Open Twitter account noted back in July that Strowman had strong support in a fan poll about who they wanted to be champ:
SiriusXM Busted Open @BustedOpenRadio
IF we get a Fatal 4-Way at #SummerSlam who’s walking out the Universal Champion? A lot of support in @bullyray5150 poll for Strowman & Joe https://t.co/bMePMznTCQ
There is not that same mindset for Reigns. The Big Dog has already been world champ three times while Joe and Strowman are fresher faces to the title scene.
Reigns outlasting Strowman, Joe and Lesnar at SummerSlam will result in audible disappointment from the Barclays Center crowd. His moment of glory will be overshadowed by the audience’s vehement pushback, a jarring scene reminiscent of Reigns’ wins at Royal Rumble 2015 and WrestleMania 32.