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WWE Superstar Roman Reigns on His Return to the Wrestling Ring
The wrestling superstar shares his life story and battle with leukemia.
by Zack Zeigler & Anthony O’Reilly | @muscle_fitness

It was a storyline twist even the most astute WWE fans never saw coming.

On Oct. 22, 2018, Roman Reigns entered the ring in Providence, RI, uncharacteristically dressed in street clothes and greeted with a mix of cheers and jeers.  The reaction was to be expected. At 6’3″, 265 pounds, the strong, athletic, and ring-savvy half- Samoan, half-Italian bruiser had become one of the most polarizing WWE Superstars on the roster. Reigns—a six-time WWE champ who had headlined the previous four WrestleManias—had built a massive fan base during his six-year tenure. But there also were factions within the WWE Universe that viewed his main-event push as forced and used any opportunity to let him know it.

As Reigns stood in the center of the ring, mic in hand and the WWE Universal Championship belt draped over his shoulder, he took an extra beat before he spoke. He wasn’t there to goose the crowd or further a story angle, he was there to reveal that the man behind the character—Leati “Joe” Anoa’i, a husband and father of three—had leukemia and would need to step away from WWE for treatment.

“It was such a heavy moment,” he recalls. “If that was going to be my last 10 minutes out in that ring, I didn’t care what noises they made. I wanted to feel everything.”

Unscripted and partially scripted WWE bits can be memorable. (The Brawl for All tourney in 1998, CM Punk’s 2011 “pipe bomb” promo, and Edge’s 2020 return to the ring all come to mind.) But Reigns’ off-script monologue connected on a different level. It wasn’t someone with an ax to grind; it was a visibly rattled, healthy-looking 33-year-old athlete—a larger-than-life WWE Superstar at the top of his game—confessing that he’d been pulled into a fight with cancer for the second time in 11 years.

It was gut-wrenching to witness and a reminder that cancer is indiscriminate and something nobody can muscle his way out of—not even Roman Reigns.

Joe Football
Before he was “the Big Dog,” Joe Anoa’i was an athletic kid from Pensacola, FL. Though his family had deep roots in pro wrestling—’90s and ’00s WWE Legends such as Yokozuna, Umaga, and Rikishi are all part of the same bloodline (and though Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson isn’t technically related, they refer to each other as cousins)— he didn’t grow up privileged.

“There’s a huge misconception that I grew up with a silver spoon,” he says. “It wasn’t like that. I lived in a small one-story cinder-block home with three bedrooms and one bath.”

Joining the family business wasn’t even his first career choice. As a standout defensive tackle at Georgia Tech University who earned first-team All-ACC honors his senior year in 2006, Anoa’i eyed a career in the NFL.

He signed with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent, but a team physical raised red flags about his health. Anoa’i was sent home, diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a slowly progressing cancer of the body’s white blood cells that can hinder one’s ability to fight infections, control bleeding, and transport oxygen; he was released.

“I was 22 years old, and the carrot [of playing in the NFL] is almost in my hand, and it slipped right out. On top of that, my wife was pregnant…everything was falling apart. I felt like I was on an island with nobody to relate to.”

Treatment for leukemia can range from oral medication to chemotherapy to radiation to stem-cell transplants, based on severity. Anoa’i would be given a less invasive oral chemo, which sent his cancer into remission. After trying to get his football career back on track, including stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars and a season in the Canadian Football League, he hung up his cleats for good in 2008.

“I thought I had some pretty good skills, but it just didn’t work out,” he says. “But I also believe everything happens for a reason.

Making it Reign
Being a WWE Superstar is a nonstop grind because the show never stops. Live shows occur around the country year-round three to four nights a week. Living out of a suitcase and being away from family and friends most weeks isn’t a schedule that suits everyone. But Anoa’i knew about life on the road before signing a WWE developmental deal in 2010.

“My father and uncle were quite successful [in wrestling], but they were living in the moment and having a good time,” he explains. “Thinking about the future wasn’t necessarily a priority.

“In this business, you can go from being on top to not having a pot to piss in, so you have to stay conscious of who you are, where you come from, and where you’re trying to go. You have to know what anchors you. For me, it’s my humble beginnings.”

Anoa’i’s work ethic was anything but average, so he spent two years learning the ropes at Florida Championship Wrestling (later rebranded NXT in 2012).

Outside the ring, he shed more than 30 pounds from his 300-pound football-playing weight and began training like a bodybuilder instead of loading massive amounts of weight onto a bar, he sought to develop strength while improving his mind-muscle connection

In 2012, Reigns made his WWE debut. By 2014, he was positioned to take the baton from John Cena as the face of the company.

“I was born into this family tree for a reason—I’ve been groomed for this,” he says. “So I’m not surprised to see generational Superstars like me and my cousins [the Usos, a current tag team] gravitating toward the top.”

The upward trajectory continued as Reigns headed into the back half of 2018: His merch was wildly popular, he elicited strong responses during performances, and he looked bigger and stronger than ever—which made the derailment of the Reigns train all the more stunning in late October.

Catch Roman at the 1:10:00 mark.

credit: KITM

50+ Screencaps + video added of Roman Reigns at the Press Conference for WrestleMania 37 on 2/11/2020.

 

Added 20+ screencaps + video of Roman Reigns on WWE Backstage 2/4/2020 talking about his defeat of the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 33

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Added 10+ screencaps of Roman talking to WWE at the Super Saturday Night Miami Superbowl Concert 2/2/2020

By HOUSTON MITCHELL ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR

JAN. 28, 2020

WWE superstar Roman Reigns, who grew up a huge Lakers fan, was preparing for Sunday’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view event when he learned of the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.

Times reporter Arash Markazi caught up with Reigns and talked to him about Bryant.

“I watched religiously throughout his career,” Reigns said. “I never thought losing someone like that, essentially a stranger, though obviously a public figure … I didn’t realize it would affect me so much. It broke my heart. My heart goes out to his wife and his three girls that were left behind. All the families that were involved.

Baron Corbin was interviewed by the Houston Chronicle ahead of Sunday Royal Rumble at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. Here are some snippets when asked about his feud with Roman Reigns

Your feud with Roman Reigns has only cranked up that hatred. How has being in a feud upped the ante?

CORBIN: “I have been lucky that the last few guys I have really been in a ring with have been a fan favorite from Roman to Seth (Rollins) to the Rock. I take a sense of pride in helping people love those guys. Every once in a while you used to get the ‘Let’s go Roman,’ ‘Roman Sucks’ chants. Now, no one is saying ‘Roman sucks.’ It is always ‘Corbin sucks.’ But when you have a guy like that who the people love. It makes my job very easy. I can just stand there and yell at a little kid and say ‘Look at your hero. He is crawling on the ground like a little baby.’ And they lose their mind. When you have a guy they truly care about, it is awesome.”

In your feud with Roman Reigns, what is the favorite thing you have gotten to do? The dog mascot? The dog food?

CORBIN: “Definitely covering him in dog food was a blast aside from the smell – it got on me as well. But that level of guttural hatred that I heard when we were doing it was awesome and the moment was right. I think it was old school and it was just nasty. And I think outside the box. It was a lot of fun to do.

How long before the show did you know that you’re going to get to do the dog food segment? And did you know you’d actually get to pour dog food on him?

CORBIN: “I heard a whisper of it, but thought it was a joke. Then it came to fruition that night, a little bit before it happened. I like it when it is last minute like that and it was it was cool that way.”

The Usos said they were so happy to have the bloodline back re-aligned with their cousin Roman. It was like a being away for a while from your close homie and when you see each other it’s like ya’ll click and take off like you never left each other. That’s how it is with us and Roman. Everytime we get around each other its like we never left.

The Twins were happy as hell to come back up in there cause if they would have seen dog food again on Roman again… The Uso said they were sitting in the living room watching Roman have dog food smeared all over him and wondering if it was real. Corey Graves said it was real and The Usos said dog food smells bad and good and Roman had it all in his hair and in his clothes

Corey Graves said Corbin and Ziggler used the bad imitation dog food and it did not smell good at all

The Usos said Roman had long pretty hair and Roman complained about having to wash all the dog food out of his hair and he still smelled dog food for 3 day afterwards.

Corey said Roman looked like Swamp Thing walking back to the locker room.

The Usos said they would have sprayed him down with dishwashing soap and a water hose.

credit: romanreigns247online.org if using transcript

Roman Reigns and Finn Bálor join host Corey Graves on the latest WWE After the Bell. First, Corey reveals how he’d fix Survivor Series, and Roman Reigns calls in to divulge John Cena’s advice on how to be a modern locker-room leader. Then, Corey surrenders to the absurdity of the Rusev-Lana-Bobby Lashley love triangle on Raw and Finn Bálor reveals how returning to NXT allowed him to reclaim his creativity after years in the “machine.”

October 16, 2019 by Brandon Stroud

Back in September, 2K Games announced that they would be partnering with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as part of the upcoming WWE 2K20‘s global marketing campaign:

Utilizing its extensive social media presence, 2K will issue a call-to-action via the WWE Games Twitter account, urging consumers to retweet and spread the LLS message and donation link. For each retweet, 2K will donate $2.00 to LLS, up to $500,000.00.* Consumers will not be required to make a purchase or donation but will simply be doing their part to encourage others to get involved and consider donating, volunteering time or becoming a social ambassador. In addition to its financial commitment to LLS, 2K will also provide copies of Company-published video games to blood cancer patients, coordinate visits with 2K personnel and WWE Superstars to hospital partners of LLS, host LLS personnel, patients and their families at upcoming WWE 2K20 promotional events, and more.
We were present for the 2K20 event last Friday, and as such had a chance to talk about the partnership with someone you may have heard of before: game cover Superstar and leukemia survivor Roman Reigns. The Big Dog talked about the importance of supporting cancer awareness both in real life and to naturally doubtful wrestling fans, as well as sharing the cover of the game with Becky Lynch, and why he’s supporting Seth Rollins following Hell in a Cell.

With Spandex: 2K’s partnering with the Leukemia And Lymphoma Society. Thoughts on that personally?

Roman Reigns: I just think it’s awesome. You know what I mean? If you’re in a position to help, I just don’t see why not. I was literally just talking to Ric Flair about it. The miles and the money mean nothing if you don’t have that fulfillment. And my work with LLS, just being able to connect with these, these little heroes and warriors, it is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever been a part of. You can only get those types of smiles from your children or your loved ones, like your wife or your, your girlfriend, that type of love.

And to be able to help people out and support them as they’re going through a rough patch it just means a lot to me because it came to me tenfold the support, it felt like a global support. So I mean, for me to be able to take that and just relax and heal, I feel like it is more than my obligation to continue that and pay it forward and help those that are … and find themselves in a similar place that I was.

Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins will wrestle tonight on Fox to decide which brand—Raw or SmackDown—receives the number one pick in the WWE draft. If Reigns wins, the top selection will go to SmackDown, and if Rollins wins, then it belongs to Raw.

Since returning in February from his second bout with leukemia, Reigns has provided a new face for those seeking additional inspiration in their fight against cancer. And the 34-year-old Joe Anoa’i is now making his biggest contribution, having found the perfect tag team partner in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Reigns spoke with Sports Illustrated about the new partnership with LLS, as well as touched on his friendship with Ron “R-Truth” Killings.

Justin Barrasso: How did your partnership with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society come together, and how did you turn such a negative moment—announcing that your cancer had returned—into a positive?

Roman Reigns: That’s the crazy part, this all started as a negative and it was such a hard announcement last October. But simply telling the truth and sharing my story, I could immediately feel something positive in my core. The live crowd that night was there for a wrestling show, and they had this real-life news put on their doorstep, which was a lot from them to take in—and they forgot about the show, the wrestling, and the character—and they focused on me, Joe. I’ll never forget that.

Roman Reigns Tattoo Tour | INKED Screencaps added

by admin/September 23, 2019/No Comments/ 270 views

Added 40+ screencaps of Roman Reigns Tattoo Tour with Inked Magazine in which he talks about the importance of his tattoos

Galleries:  Inked Magazine 2019

 

Purchase the issue here
Inked Magazine| by Bill Hanstock 

If you were going to create a professional wrestler in a laboratory, you’d have a hard time coming up with one more perfect than Roman Reigns. The 6’3”, 260-plus-pound Reigns is almost impossibly handsome, with hair so lush and healthy that it borders on satire. Inside the ring, Reigns oozes charisma, ability, and athleticism, almost daring you to find something wrong with him. The WWE Superstar is one of the most popular, prominent and accomplished people on the entire 100-plus-strong roster. Both he and the announcers on weekly television programming will be happy to remind you that Roman Reigns is the Big Dog, and WWE is his yard.

Outside of the ring and away from WWE, Reigns is Joe Anoa’i, a native of Pensacola, Florida, who currently resides in Tampa with his wife and children. The 34-year-old is poised and confident at all moments, but soft-spoken, polite, and a genuinely lovely human being. Joe is the latest megastar to come from the Anoa’i family—one of the most extensive and storied pro wrestling families. You may have heard of his father, Sika: one half of the Hall of Fame Wild Samoans tag team. Or you’ve probably heard of his cousins, Yokozuna, Umaga and Rikishi. If all else fails, you almost certainly know about his most famous cousin of all: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Recently, Reigns spent time away from the ring due to a battle with leukemia. He used that hiatus, in part, to portray an art-imitates-life role as a relative of Dwayne Johnson’s character in the Fast and Furious spin-off film Hobbs & Shaw. Reigns says the experience was good for his soul, and although he did debate whether he should take the role beforehand, he ultimately felt like it was something he needed to do. “I felt like it was important for me to show that even though this crazy thing is happening to me I still have a life, I still have a passion, I still have goals,” he says. “And if there’s nothing necessarily holding me from achieving those then I might as well take advantage and do it, and show the world that it is possible, and put a whole new paint job on blood cancer.”

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