On a recent episode of WWE After The Bell, WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns joined Corey Graves to talk about his upcoming Clash of Champions match against his cousin, Jey Uso. Before that, Graves asked Reigns what it was that makes him suited for the spot he is in now, and Reigns responded by saying that he was just born into it.
“In some regard, I was just born with it,” Reigns stated. “It’s from my family, like from being around the business for so long, seeing it from my own blood relatives, seeing men go through the same highs and lows that I’ve seen now. So, I definitely think I was groomed since I was just a little boy. But at the same time, you just got to have ‘it’. That’s why there’s only a few of them; that’s why there’s not that many that can be in this atmosphere that can orbit like this. Just got to have the ‘IT’.”
Graves recalled Reigns had a character in NXT that is similar to his character now. Reigns said he was just faking it then, but he says he is where he’s always wanted to be now.
“Well, you mentioned being groomed for this and I immediately thought back to the NXT days when you and I first met, and you were starting to refer to yourself as the ‘thoroughbred’ in NXT,” Graves recalled. “And that was sort of the mentality behind it, if I’m not mistaken, was you were bred for this. This is what you were born to do and what you were groomed [to do], as you said.
“I was living over near USF, like in the hood, in an apartment complex, still in my wife’s car to get to work,” Reigns revealed. “It was just an act, and it was what I thought I could be. It’s what I wanted to be, but man, I couldn’t quite reach it but I could envision. And now, I’m who I wanted to be. I worked my ass off, I plugged in like we talked about, the consistency for years, and years, and years. And now, I say this as humbly as possible now, I sit in my own movie theater doing these Zoom calls.”
Reigns and Uso are set for Clash of Champions, and Reigns was asked what it means to step in the ring against Uso (Joshua Fatu). Reigns also talked about the adjustment to wrestling without a crowd.
“It’s almost like a security blanket,” Reigns admitted. “I think I just did my first real match, the tag match we just did with Sheamus and [Baron] Corbin, which in its own right, was nice to have those guys because I’ve been in the ring with them a billion times. Especially Corbin recently, but there’s nothing like your family. There’s nothing like being out there with your family. But it’s different because I’m used to the crowd, and that’s what’s always made me special is, for whatever reason, they get up.
“They make a lot of noise and I can play to that; I can interact with them. That allows me to change my pace, and that’s where my audibles come into play out there for myself. Being able to listen and let them do their thing, and let them be a part of the match, and let them be the true environment — the atmosphere of what we’re doing. And to make it so compelling when you’re watching through the TV, to be like, ‘man, I want to go there. It’s lit out there. You see how loud they are? They won’t shut up.’ It’s like a soccer match. They’re singing the whole time.”
Reigns continued nothing that while the ThunderDome is great, the lack of crowd reaction makes for a tough adjustment. Reigns said it helps to have his cousin there with him, especially in a spot where Uso is not familiar with having mostly wrestled in tag matches.
“That’s something that I’ve always taken great pride in is to be able to have that true interaction with the crowd, but there’s no crowd out there now,” Reigns said. “It’s the ThunderDome, which is cool in its own right, but there are no audibles. There is no just taking a breath and letting them do what they do. It’s you and your dance partner, as it’s ever been, and so, I think being out there with my cousin for the first time in a singles capacity – probably his too.
“He’s a tag team guy, and I don’t know if he had any real singles matches. I know he had that fatal 4-way, and then the tag match. I think there’s like a very calming effect to having your blood out there with you. To know I’m a a little unsure, and it’s going to be a little different than what I’m used to, so what better way than to link arms and go with someone you fully trust, someone that you’ve been through it with in so many different aspects of life, someone you grew up with? And it’s kind of cool because Josh taught me how to wrestle essentially.
WWE has shown how close Reigns and Uso are, and Reigns recalled his days at FCW with Uso. He talked about how Uso was important to his understanding of wrestling when it came to the psychology side of the business.
“When we were at FCW, kind of that same timeframe, we both lived in the hood,” Reigns recalled. “The reason I lived in the hood is because I didn’t know anything about Tampa. So, I just asked Josh where he lived, and he was like, ‘well, I live over here.’ So I was like, ‘alright, I’m just going to move next to you.’ And little did I know, I moved to the worst area possible. Appreciate it, Josh.
“So now, I don’t get to pick any where we live anymore from that day. But yeah, we would just sit out on the porch, have a few beers, and we would talk about the basics of wrestling. He would just teach me; he would just sit there and reiterate, like this is this, and this is that, and this is when you need to do this, and this is what you should be thinking when we do that.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit WWE After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.