SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)…
Almost nobody in WWE knew Roman Reigns’s situation before he stood in the middle of the ring last night and announced he had leukemia and was taking a leave of absence from WWE. PWTorch has learned that his fellow wrestlers, the writers, and even the announcers didn’t know and were not tipped off ahead of time. There’s a chance a small inner-circle of his closest friends knew.
When he made the announcement in the ring, everyone just stopped what they were doing backstage. The backstage area can pick up the sound of what’s going on in the ring when there’s a promo, and it just shook everyone to their core. Nobody was tipped off to pay attention or gather for a big announcement.
Raw announcer Corey Graves talked on air about how close he and Reigns were, and they were known to be friends for years. He came out for the start of Raw to the usual announcer entrance themes and he didn’t show any signs of “something being up” or “about to happen.” The announcers were teared up or outright crying after Reigns finished his announcement.
It comes across in the WWE.com video that was released of Reigns meeting wrestlers backstage after his announcement tonight that Reigns at least is putting on a brave face and a smile. One colleague tells PWTorch, “He seems to feel very confident he’ll beat this.”
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When Reigns returned to the back, he was greeted by colleagues who clearly were reacting to just learning the news. The WWE.com video shows him in a long embrace with Triple H, with Hunter speaking in his ear. Shawn Michaels then hugged him and had some words with him. Reigns listened intently and seemed to choke up a bit and nod. Then Reigns had a long embrace with Paul Heyman, followed by Nia Jax which had a sense of extra emotion coming to the surface for both. Then he hugged Braun Strowman who said he’d be there for him. After a brief hug with Finn Balor, Reigns saw a crowd and then suggested playfully a group hug. Bayley, Sasha Banks, Natalya, and Brie and Nikki Bella surrounded him and hugged him. Then Bobby Lashley and Apollo Crews joined in. Producer Adam Pearce had a few words with him.
He left the Gorilla position room and went into the hallway and hugged Titus O’Neal. “Here’s my mentor, my foundation mentor right here.” They hugged. That may have been an indication that Reigns is starting a foundation for leukemia awareness and Titus can help in that regard. As he left the building, he turned and smiled back at the world he was walking away from and the support group that just let him know how they feel about him. The camera followed him to his car. He smiled when he realized they weren’t going to leave him alone and said with a wry grin, “You guys, enough already. Enough!”
That video captured what colleagues have said about him in the past and reiterated to PWTorch tonight – that Reigns was very well liked behind the scenes.
His work ethic is why colleagues were surprised when he missed weekend house shows without any explanation. It’s also why it raised suspicions that something was going on with him, because he wasn’t one to miss shows. Now it’s clear that he was deciding how to handle what was likely was a very recent diagnosis.
Reigns commented to WWE.com at the end of the video they posted that his appearance was a “last second decision” and joked that he hadn’t even had time to reserve a full size SUV.
NOW CHECK OUT THIS RELATED STORY: 10/22 WWE Raw Results: Keller’s report on Reigns cancer announcement, final Evolution hype, Ronda Rousey-Nikki Bella contract signing, HBK and Triple H hype DX reunion, Braun-Drew fallout, Tag Title match
NOW CHECK OUT THE WADE KELLER PRO WRESTLING POST-SHOW COVERING THIS EPISODE OF RAW…
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