Roman Reigns on How Overcoming Leukemia Gave Him New Perspective on Life
It has been an emotional year for Roman Reigns, battling back to WWE after overcoming a second round with leukemia. The experience changed his perspective on his approach to work and life in general.
“When your days are just crammed, and you got to get ready for the show, do the show and travel, your days can really be pushing through,” he said, in the midst of a busy session of promotion for WWE 2K20.
“But if you don’t slow down and enjoy those moments, you can lose that perspective and gratitude because you’re just moving along. To slow it down and dive into each day, take it for what it’s worth and sit back. That’s where I’m at now. Can I handle more responsibility? Sure, absolutely. But I’m enjoying what I’m doing and the people I’m around and the product we’re creating. The opportunities that we have. These giant platforms with 2K and others have been a blessing.”
Right up there in recent accomplishments for Reigns is landing the cover of the upcoming edition of WWE’s popular video game series alongside Becky Lynch. The “Big Dog” wants his daughter to have empowering female figures to look up to like “The Man.”
“Now little girls, my daughter Joelle included, can look at that cover and say, ‘I want to be like Becky Lynch. She got that cover. I can get that cover,’” Reigns said.
“I think with what she has achieved. It gives a great viewpoint that when you focus in, don’t take no for an answer, believe in yourself and are willing to run over barriers, you find yourself in that Becky Lynch category. Which I think there is only one right now, but there are plenty of young women who can step up and take that brass ring like she did.”
The SmackDown superstar recalls shooting the WWE 2K20 commercial and using the time to reflect on getting to this point. Reigns and Lynch each had successes to celebrate. There is a mutual respect between the two.
“She has been killing it. Any time she is on that microphone and in that ring, you feel the electricity coming up,” he said.
Reigns’ cousin Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson felt this firsthand participating in a segment with the Raw women’s champion at the first SmackDown on FOX. The budding actor who had a role in the Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw got to witness his famous family member at work. For Reigns, Johnson sets a great example.
“What I try to do throughout my career is stay grounded, remember who I am and where I came from before the big machine and bubble got around me,” he said.
“You can really see that with him and his process. It’s a unique process he has, no doubt. He is a superstar and worked his butt off to get to that point and make it that way. When you get your one-on-one time with him and see him come on set and interact, he is just so genuine. Always such a good time, always a smile on his face. To be able to be around him and pick his brain on a few different things as far as this business, movie business, business in general, fitness, all kinds of stuff.
“He is a wealth of knowledge and a great person to rely on and also an opinion you can trust. That was one thing I really enjoyed was those talks with him and getting a workout in here and there and pick his brain on the business and life. You have to be happy. All these different opportunities, the money, it’s not going to make you happy. It’s what you’re doing within and that what you’re doing brings passion to your heart. You have to be able to do that.
"And also connect with your fans. That’s something he does that nobody else can compare to. He is just constantly out there and keeping his fans informed. It was great to be around him. It was motivating and inspiring and hopefully I can continue to push my star and elevate myself.”
Dream matchmakers have paired Rock versus Reigns in what would sure be a big money WrestleMania match. The former multi-time champion feels the chemistry with the Hollywood heavyweight would be there, and they’d do well as a tag tea, but he isn’t sure about a one-on-one setting.
“It would have to be something the fans are just overwhelming about,” he said. “They have to make it very clear this is the matchup they want. Then we have to take into account our family and the way that affects us and the way we’d tell our story.
"Right now, I just enjoy being around him. Being in the ring with him, we’d have to get to that point, and it would have to make sense for everyone. Right now, we’re representing our family and the love and the bond we have throughout our cousins and this family tree, I think we have to hold that up as high as possible.”
Joining the Samoan Dynasty within pro wrestling industry was not something Reigns took lightly. He wanted to add to its legendary lineage. Give all the 34-year-old has accomplished, one wonders if he too would follow in Rock’s trajectory to Tinseltown.
“I definitely enjoyed learning something new, but it also makes you enjoy what you have,” Reigns said of being on the Hobbs & Shaw set. “I think that is important. Having that nice balance of wanting some more but also appreciating what you have in the moment. I can absolutely see myself doing that once my time is done in the ring or even splitting some time.
“While my legs and back can still handle it, I do enjoy being in the ring and that live response. The interaction between the performers and crowd is unique within WWE. It’s unlike anything else, but I’m getting older. Like everybody else, you can only do this for so long. Hopefully, then I’ll have the time to transition when the time comes.”
The football player turned pro wrestler stays motivated with goals to accomplish. He speaks as a quarterback before a big game. Reigns takes pride in his team and their ability to put on a quality show. An arduous task no doubt, especially with competition out there.
“If I’m on the blue side competing on the red side or NXT. I’m always motivated because you are only as good as your last performance,” he said. “You always want to leave a great taste in the mouths of the fans.
"For me, I think as long as we continue to try to satisfy our fans. As long as they bring that attitude to it. This thing about a war and picking sides. Just watch. Enjoy it and let’s have a good time because right now professional wrestling, sports entertainment is as powerful as it has ever been. So, let’s ride this wave."
WWE 2K20 is available Tuesday, October 22
WWE SmackDown, Fridays, 8/7c, FOX