Many are aware that yours truly worked in the pro wrestling business during the Hulk Hogan era. Then it was a learning lesson and no longer a fantasy. In other words, I saw it all. The will and desire of these sports entertainers gave it all. At times this scripted show was reality when the superstars could barely walk after a night of pounding on the mat.
So Monday night, as yours truly always does when not on assignment, it was RAW on the USA Network. And then the shock hit home. The champion, Roman Reigns said, “My real name is Joe, and I’ve been living with leukemia for 11 years.”
The crowd at Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence Rhode Island was stunned. The announce team that follows a script also remained silent and when back on camera showed the emotion. At home this observer also could not believe what was heard.
Roman Reigns, Lesti Joseph Anoa, from a pro wresting family, son of the Wild Samoans and nephew of the “Rock” Dwayne Johnson, brought us back to reality. This was as real as it gets and a performer who comes into our homes is now in his biggest fight.
It no longer mattered that Roman Reigns had to relinquish his WWE Championship title. This was about Reigns and his family. Pro wrestling this night took a back seat as thoughts and prayers are now with Roman Reigns.
It was a courageous and bold statement that opened up the longest running cable TV show. But the WWE and Roman Reigns agreed that his announcement was made for public awareness and a cause. It was compelling and Reign said, “Because the leukemia is back I cannot fulfill my role”
He said, “I want to make one thing clear. By no means is this a retirement speech. Because after I’m done whipping leukemia’s ass once again, I’m coming back home.”
Strong as he is, and athletic as they are, remember that pro wrestlers are like you and me. They have a job as we do. Except we always believe that pro wrestlers are invincible, and in a way they are with the way they perform, get banged up, and how they return to the return so soon after sustaining injuries and surgeries.
But they also are real and suffer pain as we all do. Except this sudden development took wrestling fans off guard. It’s hard to comprehend because Roman Reigns is strong, young, and this is not supposed to happen.
Yes, the road to come back will be difficult for Roman Reigns. We are aware and have been impacted with loved ones who have battled what Roman Reigns is going through. It is difficult but realize this is not about pro wrestling and the story line.
This is about a family man and the person. Roman Reigns is in our prayers. Wrestling fan or not, believer or not of what they do, we pray for his recovery.
And also hope that Roman Reigns once again gets to perform and have that championship belt around his shoulder again.