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Roman Reigns says he almost didn't return to WWE in 2020
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Pro Wrestling

Roman Reigns says he almost didn’t return to WWE in 2020

The Head of the Table says his conversation with Vince about pulling out of WrestleMania 36 ‘wasn’t a good one’.

Roman Reigns is one of the most prominently featured WWE Superstars of all time, and this weekend, he squares off against WWE Champion Brock Lesnar in a title unification match that WWE is billing as the “biggest WrestleMania match of all time”. His Tribal Chief character has revitalized the performer, and finally got fans to accept — or I should say, acknowledge him. But as the Head of the Table revealed in an interview with ESPN, it almost didn’t happen.

When COVID-19 hit the United States in March 2019, sending WrestleMania plans into total chaos, Roman made the decision as a recent survivor of leukemia to pull himself out of his world championship match with Goldberg. In the interview, Reigns says his conversation with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon regarding the decision “wasn’t a good one.”

“We didn’t have enough information [about COVID-19],” Reigns said. “We didn’t have a proper protocol for protection. I think I made the very smart choice in stepping back and kind of game planning and figuring this thing out and seeing where it went.”

During that figuring-out process, Reigns came to realize that he was comfortable during his time away from the limelight. A multiple time world champion and WrestleMania main eventer, there wasn’t much left for Roman to prove, and family life was feeling pretty good. For him to decide to come back to WWE, in Roman’s words, “it has to be groundbreaking. It has to be history-making.”

After Reigns and his future special counsel Paul Heyman were both off television for a few months following WrestleMania 36, Heyman began contacting Reigns to try to come up with a new presentation for the Big Dog. Heyman came up with the idea of a “Tony Soprano- or Michael Corleone-inspired personality, who would assert his dominance over WWE as ‘The Head of the Table'”.

“I just kept going back to ‘power,'” Reigns said. “I just want to be viewed as the most powerful superstar of all time, when it comes to WWE and sports entertainment. I just really wanted to convey this portrait of strength. Almost like a Mafia-style power. Not only is it respect, but they fear me.”

Of course, the rest is history, as Roman returned at SummerSlam 2020 in his new villainous persona and quickly aligned himself with Heyman. This second half of his career has cemented Roman Reigns as a titan of WWE’s pantheon, but it’s fascinating that it almost didn’t happen at all.

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