WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns was on a recent episode of WWE After The Bell where he discussed his return at SummerSlam. Reigns noted how his return came out of nowhere and how no one was expecting it.
“It was actually pretty cool, and I kind of like we’re at right now within the pandemic era outside of just everything going on, obviously but to kind of keep everything quiet just to come in and do my business and get the f–k out of there,” Reigns explained. “That’s always been really nice. That’s what we’ve been saying is I’m the last one in [and] the first one out and just get my stuff in and then get up out of there.
“So it was nice to actually have a secretive moment within the business and to have an actual surprise because with the landscape of the media, social media [and] everything, the cat gets out of the bag somehow. And it’s always like someone who was backstage and saw wrestler X, and they spill it to whoever they spill it too. And it’s on YouTube and Twitter and the whole nine, so it was nice to actually surprise people and have nobody know.”
Reigns came back after missing WrestleMania this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and his previous Leukemia diagnosis. Reigns said that he had sacrificed so much for WWE and felt that it was time to make a sacrifice for not only himself but for his family.
“A lot of things to be honest, but I think the most defined thought that I had is I made a lot of sacrifices on behalf of my family, and this is one area that I’m not going to make that sacrifice,” Reigns said. “I will sacrifice my career. I’ll sacrifice the performance. I’ll sacrifice the audience if I have to. To protect my family, I’ll quit. I will hang up the boots. I’ve done everything you can do in this business, within sports entertainment [and] professional wrestling. There isn’t an accolade, there isn’t a moment that I haven’t had, whether it was a WrestleMania moment all the way to a house show in Lille, France.
“I’ve experienced everything that you can possibly experience. So for me, it was about putting my family first, and right there, I mean if I had to retire and that’s what was going to be asked of me, I was willing to do it. So for one of the first times in a long time, I put my family, they were 1A. There was nothing that was going to change my mind.
“I needed to go away and wait till we were in a place of better understanding of the process, knowing exactly what this virus has done and how it’s affected everybody, and I just feel far more comfortable. The way WWE has taken care of me to make me feel safe, make my family feel safe [and] make my wife feel safe that I’m going out and then coming back in, that’s been huge and critical to get me back in the ring.”
Reigns talked about his feelings about missing out on WrestleMania. He noted that he has main evented four WrestleMania’s and was likely in line to main event one of the two nights of WrestleMania.
“It sucked,” Reigns admitted. “It was like a two-night event. I would imagined I would have closed one of those nights. For me, a little inside thing for me is I’m a four-star general. I’ve main evented four WrestleMania’s. In my head, the fifth star was coming. It would have been on the back of the shirt. It would have been merchandised, but to just not be involved, I mean, even last year, the year before, to be able to get healthy again and pretty much rush back.
“I mean, I really could have took a lot more time for myself, but that’s a part of the sacrifice. That’s a part of being in that tippy-top guy area to where you’re constantly thinking about everybody else. You’re constantly thinking about your contributions to the business and to the company and to keep it up where it needs to be, and that responsibility that you’re given and sometimes, you take when you wear those shoes as being the face of the WWE. There’s only a few few guys out there who can really understand where I come from and that mindset and willingness to put everything on the line whether I’m healthy or not.
Reigns admitted that he would have kept going even after his Leukemia came back from remission. He said that if he could wrestle while still receiving treatment, he would have.
“I mean before I even left because of Leukemia, I honestly would have kept going,” Reigns revealed. “If it wasn’t for my spleen being enlarged and legitimately being a danger for me to have physical contact, I would have tried to continue to wrestle if I could have. If it was physically possible for me to go through my treatments and still wrestle, I probably would have. I would have at least wrestled with the idea. For sure I would have entertained it.”
Corey Graves asked Reigns if anyone has stood out to him. Reigns had a long pause before pointing out that if things were going well, there would be no need for him to return. He then highlighted some talents that have impressed him like Randy Orton and WWE Champion Drew McIntyre.
“Otherwise, I wouldn’t have to be back. If it was all just perfect, there wouldn’t be a need for me,” Reigns pointed out. “The fans wouldn’t have been calling for me to come back. The company wouldn’t need me. If it was really all good, I might still be at home, so I think there are some people who are showing some some glimmers, but the people who are doing good now, they were doing good before I left, Bray Wyatt [and] Seth Rollins. Actually, Drew stepped up. I couldn’t imagine this being my opening title run, to deal with it through a pandemic.
“So a lot of respect out to Drew. Randy’s always been Randy. He seems like he’s a little less lethargic, and he’s got a little pet to his step and he’s enjoying himself. So I think that’s always been a thing for Randy. If Randy’s having fun, I think it translates. If he’s not, you can definitely see when he’s not. It’s funny, like he doesn’t care. If he’s not into it, you’re going to kind of see it, but he seems like he’s into what he’s doing.
“Someone like Keith Lee, I was in there with him at Survivor Series this past year. So I kind of already knew what was going to be with him and I felt him, and I felt his presence out there. So I had a general idea that he’s legit.
Reigns reiterated some talking points that John Cena had told him before. He said that if someone can step up and take his spot, then he can step out and do what he wants to do.
“When they’re really doing their job is when I won’t have to do mine anymore,” Reigns stated. “John said the same thing to me. We ain’t seen him in a while, right? And we rarely see him ,and when he does, it’s just kind of what he does and he’s gone. In order for me to leave, someone has to really come in and hold it down.
“In order for me to be able to go do whatever I want to do after this, someone has to be able to show that they can maintain and handle the responsibility to where I’m not needed, and as long as I’m needed and as long as this company needs me, I’m gonna be here, but somebody’s got to be able to step up and do that. But I mean we have a lot of guys who can be there. They just haven’t gotten themselves there yet, and I help them as much as possible, but I’m not going to give it to you”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit WWE After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.