WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns just appeared on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina, and responded to recent comments made by The Undertaker and WWE Hall of Famer Bill Goldberg.
Taker recently appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience and commented on how the current WWE product is “soft” and filled with wrestlers “making sure they look pretty” backstage.
“I think the product is a little soft,” Taker told Rogan. “There are obviously guys here and there that have an edge to them, but there’s too much pretty [and] not enough substance I think right now.”
Taker continued, “In that era of guys, too, those were men. You go into a dressing room nowadays, and it’s a lot different. I remember walking into my first real dressing room, and all I saw were some crusty f—— men. Half of them had guns and knives in their bags. S— got handled back then. Now you walk in, there’s guys playing video games and f—— making sure they look pretty. It’s evolution, guess. I don’t know what it is, but I just like those eras, man. I liked when men were men.”
Goldberg appeared on WWE’s After The Bell podcast with host Corey Graves this week and backed up Taker’s claim.
“I don’t think things could go like they did back in the day in the current day,” said Goldberg on how the locker room has changed. He continued with a response on Taker’s recent criticism, “When you hear the comments about me coming back and doing one or two matches a year, how people are like, ‘He doesn’t deserve it, he never paid his dues, he was never on the road and these people are on the road…’ Hey, man, people forget very quickly what all of us did back in the day to earn the spot we are in the now – and I am one of the luckiest guys in the world.”
Goldberg added, “But, yes, I believe, comparatively, the business is soft – but the business is in 2021, so things have to change and things have to be different.”
Goldberg also asked younger talents to grow a thicker skin and accept criticism.
“Like I said, times are quite different than they were back then today but people are soft, people take offense to things way too quickly,” he said. “Get a little thicker skin, boys and girls, that’s all I can say.
“When legends came in when I was in the business, in the beginning, I was greatly appreciative of the eyes they brought to our product and one day those young kids are going to be just like me and I hope that karma comes back to bite them in the ass, that’s all I can say. Because at 54 years old, I don’t know one of them that could be doing what I do.”
Reigns responded in the interview with Traina when asked what he thought about the older wrestlers’ trash talk.
“We do the same job,” Reigns said. “It’s not like the bumps got any worse or any better. You’re always hearing ‘a drop kick was a finish back in my time.’ A dropkick is like the second move you see in a wrestling match nowadays. We’re doing a lot more. And sometimes I think we’re a lot more physical. And because the audience has seen so much more, we have to do a little more in order to peak their interest, in order to show them something different.
“What we call a false finish, a pin that people believe will be the final move of a match, we go through those like Steamboat-Savage. You’ll see that on a SmackDown. You’ll see 15 false finishes on a SmackDown.”
The Tribal Chief continued and said he feels like The Dead Man misspoke, because he’s really a good guy, but Goldberg is just Goldberg.
“It’s strange. I really feel like he misspoke,” Reigns said. “Because Mark is a really good guy. He’s very knowledgable. Obviously, he has a ton of respect for the business. Goldberg is just Goldberg. Who cares? But he’s talking about guns and knives in the locker room. Come on. You guys travel just like we did. Did you really get that stuff through security? TSA was just letting everything happen back then? I choose to play video games sometimes on my own time. I don’t do it at work. As you can see, some of my character is based around it. I’ve always been one that networked and politicked and tried to communicate and work while I’m at work. Some guys choose to stay in the locker room. And for guys like the New Day who are überly talented, they can get away with that.
“I hope the younger guys in the locker room don’t fall into that because we’re not all the same. I have to put my whole mind into work as I come to work on a Friday. Sometimes my wife has to tell me to shut it off. She’ll be like, ‘Stop, be at home, be present.’ Because I can’t turn it off sometimes and I think to be at the highest level of anything, you have to be borderline obsessive. So, yeah, I don’t always think there’s room for video games in the locker room, but when we’re running our regular touring system and it’s a live event and there’s nowhere to go, you got kicked out of the hotel because you couldn’t get the late check out, you already hit the gym, you already picked up your food and you’re sitting in the locker room, I’d rather my guys be playing video games than breaking into a bag of some sort.”
Reigns also commented on how it’s a different time in pro wrestling, and the pro wrestlers are smarter now.
“It’s a different time and I think we’re smarter,” Reigns said. “I think you’re gonna see that from the financial side of it, from how we save our money, how we prepare for the future, having a life after the business when we can’t fall down anymore to our actual health.”
Reigns ended his response to Taker and said The Dead Man was just trying to sound “gangster” in the interview with Rogan.
“I think it was just like a retired guy trying to sound gangster,” Reigns said.