WWE Universal Champion was on a recent episode of Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show where he discussed his MMA fandom as well as his current championship run. Reigns talked about the comments he made about pulling out of WrestleMania 36 and what was going through his mind during that time.
“We all go through the negativity and the toxic culture of social media, and I try to do my best to be bulletproof and not allow it to affect me and understand, take it for what it is,” Reigns said. “A lot of people can talk smack with their thumbs, but we live in a world now where, like back in the day, you get punched in the mouth if you run your mouth the wrong way. Still a young man but [I’m] old enough to go through a generation like that to where people running their mouths wasn’t such a strong thing. It wasn’t such a big form of entertainment. People back then, they can actually back it up. There was some facts behind what they were saying. If there’s no credibility behind the s** you talk essentially, then you’re a nobody really.
“So for me, it was one of those things where I just wanted to be clear because we’re in a very uncertain time, and it was one of those ‘fall off the edge’ moments where people just say anything they want to say, but I felt it was important that you hear from me why this was happening and what my intentions were and my reasons. When it comes to my family, I’ll never put anything before that. There’s been many times that I put my career and the opportunity to provide for them, but when it comes down to our health and our mental and emotional well-being, I will never put anything financial or material over that. It’s just not that important to me as long as we have our health, and we have the opportunity to wake up tomorrow. That’s all I care about.
“It was just one of those things too where it was such a polarizing response because you have your fans who were saying, ‘You’re scared to do it,’ but then you also have your fans who are deep into the story or the character, and they’re like, ‘Don’t show up. Retire.’ Just being disrespectful towards my career and what I’ve done for our industry and our business, and that’s another thing that I won’t stand for. I think that’s what this whole past nine – 10 months displays. Anyone who has ever wished that negativity upon me or been one of those idiots like, ‘Man, I hope you break your leg. Blow your hip out so you can never compete or perform again.’ They just clearly don’t understand, and they’re misspoken because they didn’t understand what I bring to the table, what I bring to this business. And I think what I’ve done over the past nine months, there’s no more debate. It is very obvious what I do for this company, and this business and this industry of sports entertainment.”
This year’s WrestleMania is set to welcome in fans. Reigns discussed the return of fans who are most likely going to enjoy his new character as opposed to the boos he got with his old character.
“I think it’s perfect because if I’ve been able to do this without going in on the fans, if I’ve been able to do this without really touching on that relationship, that dynamic, that motivation, having to hear all this BS for so long, having to just kind of, like I said, be bulletproof and bounce off all this negativity, I’ve been able to just tell compelling and interesting stories just between the characters alone,” Reigns explained. “I haven’t even introduced our audience, which is like in sports. It’s the 13th man.
“The crowd has always been a huge part of every form of sport or entertainment. So that just shows how much material and how much more storytelling that I’m going to be able to dive in to. So to me, it’s encouraging because I still feel like I have so many more opponents, so many more layers to really go back with this character in this position that I’m in, but I think it’s going to be really special when I can truly interact with our fan base.”
Reigns was also asked if he lets the negativity get to him. He talked about looking at the positives in life.
“No, my pantries full, and my my kids mouths and bellies are full,” Reigns stated. “When it comes down to it, you have to break it down. I’ve never gotten to that point. You get to a point where it’s just like, ‘Man, I just want to turn it off, and I do. We all have that control. We have the mute button. You can close those apps. You don’t have to make yourself available to it all the time.
“Obviously, it is good from a business standpoint, connectivity standpoint and just being in real time, but it’s not one of those things where I let it dictate my happiness or anything. We haven’t been in the social media world and culture era that long. I lived enough life to understand the good things outside of being on your device all day long. So it is concerning though, but I’ve never let it take away my interests or put a negative taste on a positive thing for me.”
Reigns returned to WWE at SummerSlam and was soon paired with Paul Heyman. The pairing was something that had always been in the works, but Reigns revealed who was responsible for the pairing.
“To be honest, if I have to give credit to anybody, I’d say Vince [McMahon], but it wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t on board,” Reigns noted. “If Paul was like, ‘No way,’ or I was like, ‘No way,’ it wouldn’t have happened, but ultimately, decisions like that, it goes back to the big man.”
Reigns then discussed what he has learned from Heyman during their time together. He discussed Heyman’s dedication and work he has put with him.
“There’s so much to learn, and I don’t feel like I’m in a position to just give away his teachings,” Reigns admitted. “I’m sure he values that. Those are valuable experiences, but man, if I can just give a little bit of free game away here, the way he attacks everything within his career and his relationship with me, without being ridiculous and distasteful, if I’m like, ‘Paul, I need a hand towel. I need a hand towel and some toothpaste.’ He’d be the first to be on the phone figuring out who he’s got to send, or if he’s got to get a rental car, he would do whatever it’s going to take to bring out the best performance, to bring out the best in the person that he’s working with, the talent that he’s currently within creative with.
“He’s going to do the best for him. And he tells me constantly, because I try to be respectful with his time as well, but open line 24/7. I can call him Sunday at 3:00 in the morning. It does not matter. He can be laid up with 16 beautiful women, he’ll leave all 20 of them to come talk to me about some business to make sure that I’m comfortable, to make sure that I’m being looked out after. He not only goes from the creative side to on screen benefits of being with him but everything in between.
“Tomorrow, he will be asking me what I want to eat. He will be lighting up my food to make sure I’m good. He has no ego. I know there’s a sense of confidence and competitive nature, but when he’s with someone that he’s looking out for, that ego crap is out the window. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to put on the best performance. He’s been a great influence. I don’t think I’d ever want to work without him.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.