Before he defeated Jey Uso at the WWE Clash of Champions on Sunday night, WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns was on the WWE After The Bell podcast where he discussed his current run with Paul Heyman as well as his spot as the “top guy” in WWE. Corey Graves pointed out that Reigns had a thoroughbred character in NXT, and Reigns talked about how that is being realized now with Heyman at his side.
“That’s what I had envisioned from a long time ago, and it took a very scenic routes to get here,” Reigns pointed out. “So it’s still tough for me to brag, but that’s what I love about what I’m doing now is if I don’t want to, Paul, tell him. Tell them what I am. Remind them of who I am. Read that resume right quick. Let them know what I’ve been doing, what I’m about to do.
“So that’s something that’s nice about adding a layer to it. Being able to play off of somebody but there’s no doubt man, I’m just doing what I had set out to do back in NXT, back at FCW.”
Reigns revealed that Dusty Rhodes saw Reigns’ potential back when he was a producer in NXT. He and Graves talked about how nerve-wracking promo class would be, and Reigns spoke on how Rhodes gave him the confidence to be the top star that Rhodes knew he could be.
“What I was playing with as far as with Dusty, The American Dream, when he was leading our promo classes, God rest his soul, he got it,” Reigns said. “He knew it too… because that s–t was tough. We’re just in a dark warehouse, and we’re trying to like convey ourselves as super megastars. It’s not easy.
“And in front of a crew of 30 of your peers,” Graves added. “There’s no more nerve-racking scenario. It’s probably easier to be in front of ten thousand screaming fans who are strangers and do what you want to do because you don’t necessarily feel that judgment. To be sitting in that darkroom on Dale Mabry Highway in front of not only the future of the business but Dusty Rhodes, but all of the dignitaries as Dusty used to refer to them, the higher-ups that would come down. It’s nerve-racking. The goal is to find who you truly were, and here we are looking back at it now and Dusty knew back then who you are today.”
“Yeah, he know it, and I think he could see it within all of us,” Reigns stated. “Like when we were getting out of our comfort zone, or it was starting to break us a little bit or our confidence was going down, he knew how just to give you a little shot. It was like he just spoke to me. He completely revamped my confidence, and he told me, he’s like, ‘you just got to let it go baby. You just gotta let it go. You are it. You have it. You can’t get rid of it. You can’t sell it if you wanted to. You just going to have to accept it and be the guy,’ and from there, I just I knew it. I knew that if he’s telling me this, then I need to understand it. I need to learn how to harness.”
Reigns continued noting that he’s still working on being the top star, but he credited Rhodes for saving his confidence during those promo classes. He spoke more on how competitive that environment was.
“It took a while, really,” Reigns admitted. “It’s still a work in progress, but yeah, that was one of those moments where The Dream, he saved my whole mentality. He saved my confidence because you’re in the you’re in the shark pit. It’s not just peers. It’s it’s like alpha male, like a lion’s den. Everybody’s charismatic. Everybody’s in good shape.
“Everybody’s pretty good looking and they’re all different, and somehow you have to convince everybody in this little camera in front in of you that you’re the one that’s better than all of them. So it’s not easy, as it shouldn’t be. It should not be easy because of the great things that can come from it. I wouldn’t trade this life in for the world, but it wasn’t easy to get to. I had to earn it.”
It was reported that Reigns’ heel turn and pairing with Heyman was in the works for a while, and Reigns confirmed that he wanted to do something different. It was also reported that the Reigns-Heyman dynamic will be completely different than the Brock Lesnar – Heyman dynamic, and Reigns spoke on the kind of dynamic he and Heyman have.
“It’s just something I wanted to do. It was an opportunity to be able to connect a lot of dots,” Reigns said. “It was, I guess, kind of a bit of a lure as well to get me back in, but it was, for me, to know I wanted to go down this route, I just felt like I needed something. I didn’t want to just show up, look different [and] talk different. I wanted a whole new presentation, and we’re going to continue to gradually do that, but I thought what better way than to align myself with essentially like a high-powered attorney.
“If you took like the top athlete in the world and you mixed them with like a mafia boss character, that’s who I am. Like the mob boss will go out there and do the hit himself, but you got to have somebody who’s dotting i’s and crossing the t’s for you. You got to have somebody who understands the ins and outs and can add that new layer to the whole character realm, to the personality not just for me in general but the organization of what I’m trying to do. So it’s been really cool to work with Paul.”
Reigns commented on how cool it is to have Heyman by his side due to Heyman’s connection with his father and uncle, The Wild Samoans. He revealed that Heyman would always show him pictures of him with his father and uncle during his days as a photographer.
“It’s really neat for me man,” Reigns admitted. “It kind of just brings everything full circle, and it’s a cool arc because before, a couple years ago, three, four five years ago, Paul would just come up to me and like, ‘look at this picture.’ Sometimes he would print them out to give to me, and he’d be like, ‘this is me and your uncle and your cousin.’ And he’d be sitting with that old giant big-ass phone. Then over the years, he’s just told me so many cool stories. It’s just really neat to be able to connect those dots like I was saying earlier, like of our kind of paths of my family and then his career.”
Reigns also talked more about the bond Heyman has with his family. He recalled his father and uncle stepping up for Heyman in the locker room and accepting him.
“He’ll tell you, he gives a lot of credit to being left alone essentially,” Reigns described. “Especially back in the day, it was hard to break into this business. I mean, it’s a tight-knit fraternity. It’s like ‘Fight Club’ essentially. We don’t talk about Fight Club, especially back then, and my dad and uncle kind of gave him the blessing. They made it to where they’re like, we like this kid, and so nobody messed with them.
“He would drive them. He would help them out, do things for them and from there, he’s just always had a huge respect for our family, and it’s been really cool to see him go from being that young boy, all the way to being what he is today and what he’s done in the middle of his career and then through his journey of the rest of them business”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit WWE After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.