During a recent interview with Bleacher Report, WWE’s Universal Champion Roman Reigns talked about his influence on where he would go in the WWE draft. As noted, “The Tribal Chief” was the #1 draft pick of the show, chosen by SmackDown.

“I don’t think it was a hope; it was more of a demand,” he said about staying on SmackDown. “What we’re doing and the character falls very closely to real life with us and what we do, and I don’t think Fox would have had it any other way. They’ve invested a lot of money, and they want the very best representing their network, and who better to do it for WWE than me? Because I’m in the thick of it, because I’ve put in all this work on the blue side for SmackDown, it would have felt really weird to just be uprooted and try to transition it to RAW. And this is coming from a RAW guy.”

The majority of Reigns’ career has taken place on WWE RAW, something Reigns is motivated by because he wants this SmackDown run to overshadow that.

“I put credit to what I’ve done in the last year and a half. It’s been so thorough and on a different level that people can forget [about my RAW run],” he said. “… Whatever show I’m on, we’re going to do our very best to make it the best. I think that showed a few weeks ago when we came over for RAW. We did a good number for RAW, and I think the show was a lot better, and we were sprinkled all over that show.”

Now that WWE’s ThunderDome era has come to a conclusion, Reigns is excited to be presenting his dominating character in front of live audiences once again. He noted how the in-ring works hits much harder when the fans aren’t reacting with their live responses.

“I appreciate being in front of a live audience—there’s no question,” he said. “It makes everything better about what we do, all the way from the energy to the affirmation to the physicality. It doesn’t hurt. It still sucks doing what we do in the ring from a pain standpoint and the physicality portions of it, but when you’re in front of nobody, it feels terrible.

“When you’re in the ThunderDome, everything hurts way more than it should as opposed to being in front of a live crowd who are eating it up and chanting and creating this crazy environment and atmosphere which ultimately enhances the experience for not only the performer but the audience as well,” Reigns added.

One aspect of the ThunderDome era Reigns was actually appreciative of was that stars weren’t required to travel as much. He revealed that WWE goes above and beyond in their effort to keep Reigns, a leukemia survivor, safe during his travels.

“I don’t miss travel, man,” he said. “I don’t miss being on planes. I don’t miss being in the air. The ThunderDome was nice because it was in Orlando for a bit and Tampa, so I would literally get picked up on the bus, head up there, three-and-a-half-hour drive to both, do my stuff and get back on the bus and get back home that night. That process created a silver lining and also being home with my family and my children and my wife. There’s no replacing that. I do not miss travel.

“Saudi Arabia is the only place I’ve left the country for, and that’s just because it’s such an isolated one-off, in and out on a private jet, 16 hours, knock out the show, back on the jet, 16 hours, all by myself. We go through extreme precautions to make it all safe for me and to make me feel comfortable.”

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