As previously noted, WWE Superstar Roman Reigns was a guest on CBS Sports' In This Corner podcast to hype Sunday's WWE No Mercy pay-per-view. Among other things, Reigns talked about needing so-called 'thick skin' in professional wrestling, playing a character different from himself in real life, whether he is bothered by fans criticizing his in-ring work, crying for pro wrestling, and when he realized that he would make it in the genre.
According to Reigns, he took a little bit of advice from Fandango, aka FCW's Johnny Curtis, in developmental that pro wrestlers need 'thick skin' to succeed.
"If you're going to be in the squared circle and be a part of sports entertainment, you have to have thick skin. I mean, it's just the way of the business. Do you know what I mean? Like, sometimes it's funny. I've heard Fandango say this before, who I've been around a long time. He was one of the top guys of developmental when I first broke in and he said, 'you've got to be a tough guy to run around like a sissy and wear tight pants' and I didn't think about it and it slowly set in. I was like, 'do you know what? He's right. He has thick skin: he's willing to do this about anything; he doesn't get embarrassed - he's able to wear egg on his face and be fine with it because obviously we all have a passion for this. If you can't handle something as simple as somebody saying something to you, then you can't handle sports and you'll never be able to handle the physicality."
In Reigns' view, he plays a character on television that is different from himself in real life. WWE's other Samoan Superstar named Joe suggested that staying grounded is important for him, and perhaps easier for him as performer playing a role.
"John Cena is John Cena. That's his real name. Do you know what I mean? I'm a character and I'd like to think Joe [Anoa'i] is a different person than Roman. And when I become Roman and I go out there and I go through that curtain, I'm in character."
Reigns explained, "there [are] a lot of tie-ins [linking Joe Anoa'i and Roman Reigns, the character]. They're close, but there's still a separation and that's one thing that I enjoy. You hear that a lot that performers can get stuck and start believing it. Do you know what I mean? And, for me, I just try to stay grounded. That's what helps me, when I'm able to turn it off and just be Joe. Joe's a dad. Do you know what I mean? Joe's a father, a provider, a husband, and I'm a very simple man at that too. When I'm home, I try not to leave the house to often. Do you know what I mean? I just want to be around my loved ones, and rest, and be with my babies, but it's still a very tight-knit connection between Joe and Roman because obviously all the stuff I learned as Joe with the physicality of football and sports, I had to transfer over to the character of Roman."
Reigns admitted that he is not bothered by comments from fans that he is a weak worker, although 'The Big Dog' has cried over wrestling because it means so much to him.
"No, [negativity about his in-ring work] doesn't bother me because, like you said, you have to believe in yourself and I know that kind of sounds corny, but it's true, do you know what I mean, especially when you have people telling you this and that, and critiquing you, and telling you what you're not good at and what you probably shouldn't be doing. But I know the time I put in. I know the sweat, the blood, even the tears. I've cried over this stuff. Do you know what I mean? As a grown man, I've cried over wrestling before. I'm man enough to say it."
Reigns averred, "it means that much to me and I think that's why, especially my family, that's why we're so good at it, is because we really care about it and it's something we can connect to. Do you know what I mean? It's just if you don't have confidence in yourself, you're going to have a terrible time when you walk through that curtain. Do you know what I mean? For me, it [has] been a while since I've heard the 'you can't wrestle' chants. It really [has] been a couple of years. But, at the end of the day, if they're making a lot of noise, if they're standing up, that means they're interested and that's all I care about."
When asked why he cried over pro wrestling, Reigns explained that he cried about six years ago when he was in developmental and Jey Uso made him crack. Apparently, the centerpiece of The Bloodline doubted his ability to learn quickly enough.
"The real time that I've honestly cried was a late night with my cousin, Jey. And I was still in developmental and he was up on the road. He had taken me out and at this point I had no money. He was kind of helping me out. He was the one that bought the dinner for us and everything. And we were just sitting there talking and stuff and he was just kind of laying it out there."
Reigns recalled, "I was so green and he was trying to get me to think on my feet. Do you know what I mean? And then, he may have said something that irritated me and the whole situation because I knew I wasn't ready and I didn't know what to do and it was so frustrating and I want to be the best. I want to be the absolute greatest to ever do this and I had that mindset since day one."
In Reigns' estimation, he realized he could do well in pro wrestling in a match versus 'Juice' Robinson, the former CJ Parker.
"I was in developmental still. I was actually wrestling a guy named CJ Robinson. We call him 'Juice'. He's out in Japan now, I believe. And I was wrestling him quite a bit. We were just wrestling a little house show in Jacksonville [Florida], a little Jacksonville armory, and it was actually a nice little turnout, a couple of hundred people, and the crowd just got with it."
Reigns continued, "and we had just this incredible match and I don't know if it was incredible off of today's standards of what I've been doing, but in that moment, it felt like we were just tearing it up. And I still remember to this day coming to the back and I know Seth Rollins was really tight with 'Juice' and he was watching the match as well. And I could see it in his eyes, he has seen both of us kind of taste it for the first time. So I we could kind of understand a little more now, like, we were a little bit further along and that's when I knew."
Click here to listen to the interview. If you use any of the quotations from this article, please credit In This Corner with an H/T to WrestlingINC for the transcription.
Source: In This Corner