Roman Reigns On Learning How To Deal With “What” Chants

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Roman Reigns has had a lot of time to speak in front of the WWE Universe in his career and now he’s opening up about how to deal with the dreaded “What?” chant that WWE fans like to chant.

The origins of the “What?” chant go back to 2001 during “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s heel run. Here’s how Austin explained it:

“Another thing, people always ask me how I come up with the ‘What?’ thing. I called Christian [Cage] on his cellphone. Of course, he didn’t answer ‘cause it’s me calling. So I left him this long-winded message, and I’d say something stupid and I’d go ‘what’. Kinda keep going and go ‘what’, and keep going. By the time I hung up the phone I left him like a two-minute message I was like, and I was working heel at the time, I was like ‘I think I’ve got something here’, that’s how the ‘What?’ was invented.”

When Austin turned babyface later that year, he used the “What?” chant with the crowd to annoy whoever he was feuding with.

Over two decades later, the chant still exists at wrestling shows due in part because Austin was the most popular WWE superstar of all-time at his peak.

The Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns has had to deal with a lot of chants in his career including “What?” and other phrases. Reigns was a guest on Logan Paul’s Impaulsive podcast this week where he talked about his start as a pro wrestler training in WWE:

“I came in as an ex-failed football player who had to like go to a warehouse and figure it out. And then they brought us in as a group as The Shield early on. Then, you know, once I started finding those broad strokes, the basics, you know, of how to a) wrestle and then b) wrestle on television, you know, what I mean, and all those details that you’re learning that come with that.”

Reigns went on to discuss what it was like when The Shield broke up in June 2014 and he was on his own dealing with a crowd that knew WWE wanted him to be “the guy” in the future:

“Then we split, and once we went on our own, that’s when it got hectic, because that’s when they, they were into me, then they saw Oh, they’re pushing him to the moon, they want this guy to be the guy, so they rebelled against me. And then there was a nice little gap of probably anywhere from two to four years of me, it was almost like a competition with me and the crowd to where it was like, I’m gonna earn this respect every single night.”

Over the last two years, Reigns has been WWE’s unquestionable top guy that’s the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion with over 700 days as the Universal Champion. Reigns has been a heel during the entire run and has also been delivering the best promos of his career as the “Tribal Chief” character.

Reigns went on to talk about dealing with the “What?” chant and how he learned to not be bothered by it.

“Typically, when you’re talking, they’re gonna listen. But when you pause, they will get a reaction. But sometimes it’s not the reaction you want. Because what if they’re ‘what?’-ing you? Nobody likes the ‘what?’ Right? So then you got to start playing with your cadence. And now you can cut their ‘whats’ off and dictate the timing and what the chants are going to be.”

In his last Undisputed WWE Universal Championship defense, Reigns beat Drew McIntyre at Clash at the Castle on September 4th thanks to an assist from a debuting Solo Sikoa. While Reigns is currently scheduled for Extreme Rules, he is likely going to wrestle again at Crown Jewel on November 5th.

H/T Inside The Ropes