World Wrestling Entertainment was left scrambling to find an opponent for WWE Universal Champion Goldberg at Wrestlemania 36 when Roman Reigns decided to drop out over concerns of Covid-19. Reigns recently sat down with Corey Graves on the WWE After the Bell Podcast, and shared what was on his mind when he decided to drop out of the biggest show of the year.
“A lot of things to be honest, but I think the most defined thought I had was I made a lot of sacrifices on behalf of my family and this is one area that I’m not going to make that sacrifice. I will sacrifice my career. I will sacrifice the performance. Hell, I’ll sacrifice the audience if I have to in order to protect my family. I will quit and hang up the boots. I’ve done everything I could do in this business. There’s isn’t an accolade or a moment that I haven’t had, whether it was a WrestleMania moment all the way to a house show. I’ve experienced everything you could possibly experience. So, it was about putting my family first. If I had to retire and that’s what would be asked of me, I was willing to do it. So for one of the first times in a long time, I put my family first. There was nothing that was going to change my mind. I needed to go away and wait until we were in a better place of understanding of the process knowing exactly what this virus has done and how it’s affected everybody.”
Part of the reason that Reigns left in late March was that his wife gave birth to twin sons, so he had newborns at home at a time when not a lot of things were known about COVID-19 and the best testing methods. Reigns also has a daughter and two more twin sons, so he has five kids with his wife. Since then, WWE implemented more through COVID-19 tests a few months ago, which led to Reigns feeling more comfortable about performing again.
Reigns stayed away from WWE for almost five months before making his return at SummerSlam this past August. Reigns shared how he felt to finally return to the ring.
“It was cool. I like where we are at right now in the pandemic era outside of what is going on obviously. But to keep everything quiet and come in and do my business and get the hell out of there has been nice. That’s what we’ve been saying is I’m the last one in and the first one out. I get my stuff in and get out of there. It was nice to actually have a secretive moment within the business and have an actual surprise because we know the landscape of social media. The cat gets out of the bag somehow and it’s always someone who was backstage and saw wrestler x and they spill it to whoever they spill it to. Then it’s on Youtube and Twitter and the whole nine. It was nice to actually surprise people and have nobody know. The guys on the inside didn’t even know.”
— Roman Reigns (@WWERomanReigns) August 24, 2020
When Reigns finally did return to the ring, he did it with a much more heelish personality.
“This is something I wanted to do. It was an opportunity to be able to connect a lot of dots. It was a bit of a lure as well to get me back in, but for me, I didn’t want to just show up and walk different and talk different. I wanted a whole new presentation and we are going to continue to gradually do that. I thought what better way than to align myself with essentially a high powered attorney (Paul Heyman). If you take the top athlete in the world and mix him with a head mafia boss character, that’s who I am. The mob boss will go out there and do the hit himself but you have to have somebody dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s for you who understands the ins and outs and can add that new layer to the whole character and the personality.”
The man Reigns choose to dot those “I’s” and cross the “T’s”, was none other than Paul Heyman. Reigns went on to explain the long history Heyman has had with his family.
“It brings everything full circle. A couple years ago, Paul would come up to me and show me a picture. He would say this is me and your uncle and your cousin. Over the years he has told me some cool stories. It is neat to connect those dots of the paths of my family and his career. He will tell you he gives a lot of credit to being left alone essentially, especially back in the day, it was hard to break into this business. It was a tight-knit fraternity, especially back then. My dad and uncle gave him the blessing. They said we like this kid, so nobody messed with him. He would drive them and help them out and do things for them. From there, he has always had a huge respect for our family. It’s been really cool to see him go from that young boy all the way to being what he is today and what he did in the middle of his career.”
Thank you to wrestlingnews.co for transcribing the quotes.
Earlier in the week, we posted comments from Roman when he spoke to kids at a children’s hospital. WWE posted a video of that below.
Matt’s Musings: I’m glad that Roman choose to put his family first, and happy to see him back in the ring once again.