Roman Reigns has had an eventful year so far after he returned from leukemia treatment this past February. Since then, he has got back into the thick of things in WWE while wrestling a lot of big names in the company and also appearing on Smackdown after the Superstar Shakeup in April. Reigns has also been on Raw a lot since the “Wild Card Rule” was designed to get top guys like him on both shows, then WWE stopped mentioning the rule and now a lot of people are on both shows. Reigns also won WWE’s first ever ESPY award for his comeback. In addition to all of that, Reigns is on the cover of WWE 2k20, which was announced today.
Here are highlights of an interview that Reigns did with ESPN talking about the video game, his health and those comments from his good friend Jon Moxley (fka Dean Ambrose) when Moxley was very critical of the WWE creative process.
On dealing with the dark times during his recovery from leukemia:
“As soon as we got on the road to recovery, [we] started addressing some of the side effects I was having. One of them was extremely high uric acid levels, [which happens] whenever your blood levels get thrown off. Within leukemia, you have an elevated white-blood-cell count. What I thought was a crazy gout situation due to my diet or red meat or shellfish, that type of stuff, it was just my blood being affected through what was going on.
I had crazy arthritis from my feet all the way up to my hips. So for about the first month, month and a half, I couldn’t really walk around much. It was really painful. I was on my butt quite a bit — a little bit of Call of Duty here and there, a little 2K time. Luckily, through medication and the doctors taking care of me and making the proper adjustments, I was able to get back on my feet. Once I felt better, it was like, OK, now the light at the end of the tunnel peeked back out. For a second, it was pretty dark.”
On if he is back to being full-time in WWE:
“It’s just been since Mania, it’s been a crazy schedule. I’ve had a few other things with outside projects. The different “Hobbs & Shaw” experiences. I haven’t been on as many live events as I usually have been. That’s always been a big part of my schedule, just being on every show, being on everything. I’ve been on every TV, I’ve wrestled in main events, I’ve wrestled in long singles matches, I’ve wrestled in crazy tag matches, Shield reunions.
I think we have to be smart and obviously not burn me out, but I feel good, man. On top of that, we’ve had a lot of talent step up. I’m very proud to share that spotlight and show the depth of the WWE roster. I like to think that I’m one of our studs, but I’m proud to say we have a whole pasture full of bulls that can run it down and hold it down.”
On critical comments that Jon Moxley (Dean Ambrose) made about WWE’s creative team after he left the company:
“I love this place. I’ll tell you straight-up: I disagree with what [Dean] Ambrose said about the creative process. I love the guy. I love him to death. He’s my brother. And wrestling ain’t gonna stop that. On a personal level, me and that dude can hang out, have a beer or two and just talk. And even when we don’t talk, that’s just our relationship. When it comes down to it, creative-wise, that’s on you. Communication is communication. When you go in there and you talk to the boss, you gotta let him know. He even made comments about the things I had to say, but that was in a different place. I was brand-new.
We’ve worked our asses off for Vince [McMahon] in this company, and he respects that, and he wants to know our opinions. You have to speak up for yourself. I’m in a position now where he listens to everything I have to say, what I’m feeling. Early on, when you don’t have any equity, when you haven’t put in any time, you should do what the boss says. But once you earn that equity, once you got the keys to the car — which Ambrose was clearly in that position because all three of us [were] — you have to speak up for yourself and do what’s right for you.
Regardless, I love the dude, man. We came from the bottom and got to where we are now, and he’s a huge part of that. No type of business rivalry or any of that crap will ever affect the personal relationship I have with either Seth or Dean. We’re all gonna do our thing. We’re having fun. I’m enjoying where I’m at. I enjoy being with the WWE. I’ll never be anywhere else.”
For more of the Reigns interview with ESPN, click here.
TJR Thoughts: I know people are going to read this and say Reigns is just defending WWE since he works there. That is true to some extent, but he did make some good points as well. Ambrose was critical of WWE making Reigns say stupid stuff like the awful “sufferin’ succotash” promo and Reigns claimed he was brand new. He really wasn’t brand new because he had been on the main roster for a few years. I think what it comes down to is everybody has a different personality and a different way of handling things. While the scripted promos bothered Moxley a lot, a guy like Reigns or Rollins may be able to handle it better because they’re used to it.
As Reigns said, he’s always going to be close with Ambrose/Moxley because of the journey they went through. Moxley is doing great in AEW/NJPW these days while Reigns is likely a WWE lifer. There’s nothing wrong with either of those things.