The last time we talked to WWE superstar Roman Reigns, he was in an amazing place in his career. We're talking "main eventing the WWE's biggest show—WrestleMania—for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Brock Lesnar"-amazing. The outcome wasn't exactly what he was looking for, though, as Seth Rollins cashed in the Money In The Bank briefcase to steal the title from both Lesnar and Reigns. Six months down the line, Reigns was facing a different briefcase—one that temporarily knocked him out after being thrown into the ring during a house show match in Victoria, British Columbia over the weekend.
That didn't stop The Juggernaut, and as he heads into his SummerSlam match with former Shield partner Dean Ambrose to take on Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper, we caught up with Reigns to discuss this unwelcomed briefcase shot, his time in the WWE's developmental federation NXT, working with Dusty Rhodes (R.I.P.), and whether a certain family member is possibly returning... if you smell what we're cooking.
Interview by Khal (@khal).
So first off, I wanted to get your thoughts on the recent briefcase situation in Victoria. You're doing alright after that shot?
Yeah, everything is fine. It was a plastic briefcase. Just to make it all relative, I was being hit by a wooden kendo stick at the time. So being hit by a plastic briefcase in the head—which, you know, no one wants to be hit in the head by any object—it wasn’t much different then being hit by Bray Wyatt. Actually, it was way easier then being hit by a kendo stick by Bray Wyatt.
I actually got groped in the crotch area this week. It was such a wild week, man. I’ve had people grab my butt.
For me the scariest part though, was [thinking] "What if there was something dangerous? What if there was something sharp? What if they hit me in my eye?" The only message I want to get out about this is: I’ll go out there and I’ll put my body through some stuff for the entertainment and create the most infectious, creative, awesome atmosphere that I can. I think I’ve shown that. I danced with the big bear Brock Lesnar like no one else. I’ll go to there and I’ll get wild. Just please—don’t put me in harm's way. Let me put myself in harm's way. But don’t [mess with] the opportunity for me to provide for my family, for my seven-year-old daughter, for my wife, our livelihood. Don’t hurt me. Don’t injure me. Let me take myself out of this equation. You don’t have to do that, you know what I mean? Just come enjoy the show and just think about this [as] a family situation. This is a family show, so please act accordingly.
Definitely. What's funny is when I heard about this, I was wondering about your ring entrance. You're the only guy right now who's not even coming into the ring normally; you are coming straight through the crowd. Have you had any crazy situations like that, or almost dangerous situations based off of how you’re entering the ring?
No. The fans have been great. This week was a crazy week it seemed like. I actually got groped in the crotch area this week. It was such a wild week, man. I’ve had people grab my butt. But there was a daring chick, it was either in Victoria or Vancouver—those people are wild up there [Laughs]. They love their wrestlers. Please. Please. My rig is not apart of the show. I’m going out there to wrestle, not get felt up. So please, I’m a married man. Show a little respect.
I mean, I know that wrestling fans are historically really into wrestling up in Canada. So I guess they saw you, and they got a little too crazy with it.
They’re madness. They really are. They’re rowdy. I’m into it. This whole wrestling world is a different breed, there’s no doubt. We have a rowdy bunch, but please, please let me get to the ring and wrestle. But what’s going to happen is this entrance will get taken away. And I love the uniqueness of it and someone’s got to hold the fort down. So please, don’t get too wild people.
Speaking of the people getting wild, I was thinking about your match at Payback earlier this year, the fatal four-way main event. There was a part towards the end, where you, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins had a moment where it looked like Seth was trying to get The Shield back together. Watching it at home on the Network and looking at Twitter reactions, it seemed like people were really bugging out for it, as I'm sure it was in the arena. Is that something you would even consider?
I think any successful faction within this industry has a reunion somewhere in it’s future. So, I’d hope we’re all healthy enough and we have that type of longevity. Not only for us, but for the business and for our fans. That’s the best way to really show what you’re made of and how much you care about this place, how long you can do it for. So I hope we all have that length of career and we have a couple, or three reunions. You never know. But I’m really enjoying it now.
And what an idiot, right? Oh, man. This is "the smartest member of The Shield." He’s such a genius. "I’m the architect. I made The Shield, I built The Shield. I’m going to trick these guys." No, you just got powerbombed by yourself. You idiot. I was shocked at how dumb he was that day. You couldn’t help but to laugh at him. Exactly. I mean, it was an awesome moment, it was, but look at him now. Now he’s figuring out [that] sometimes you just got to do it by yourself. You've got to prove that you’re capable of holding that title.
I would never rule out the fact that [the Rock] wants to come home. Let’s put it that way. If you know what I mean.
Now another thing I wanted to talk about was during WrestleMania you’ve had real family come out there. Not just with the awesome historic Samoans that came through the WWE before then, but you also had The Rock come through. Is there any chance that the Rock might be coming through with you, in the near future, to come take care of Bray Wyatt and the Wyatt family?
I don’t want to give anything away, but if history speaks for itself—and not too long ago, and not only my history but just in general—the history of the WWE there’s a reason why we say "card is subject to change." You never know what’s going to happen with this crazy world of sports entertainment, so I would never rule out the fact that Rock wants to come home. Let’s put it that way. If you know what I mean.
And he can still go.
I mean, he’s in the best shape of his life, there’s no question that he can go. I don’t think that’s ever been the question, I think it’s just about moments. It’s when you have any of these legends. There’s a reason why you only ever see The Undertaker so often.
So you’ve talked about The Shield, and while I know some fans are aware, not everyone was following the NXT when you guys were getting acclimated with the WWE, really working together as a unit. Since you guys entered the WWE, the NXT has risen to the point where their TakeOver show in Brooklyn before SummerSlam has actually already sold out. How important was it for you to go through NXT as opposed to going to the independent wrestling federations?
It’s hard to say. Everybody is different and I was able to respond [to the NXT system], along with a lot of other people. I’m not the only guy who doesn't have an independent wrestling background. You know, I have a football background, but I also have a wrestling one. I’m from a wrestling family, a wrestling dynasty. And as biased as that may be, I firmly believe I am from the greatest wrestling family of all time. We boast the largest, and possibly the most successful family tree of all time. So it’s hard for me—I’m just a very rare case, a unique superstar in that regard because I have such a different background, and story, and path.
I don’t have an indie background, but I’ve been in the wrestling business my entire life. I’ve suffered from it, I’ve rejoiced from it. My whole life has been fueled by it. I’ve been through things only generational kids would know, and it’s the same thing my kid is going through. Everybody makes sacrifices in their own regard and in their own life. So I think everything is situational and it’s all due to perspective. What you see on Raw and Smackdown and Superstars, NXT is the exact same thing. Those guys and girls are going out there and they’re learning. A lot of them in this crop have an independent background and they’re journeymen. They’ve been grinding for years and they all deserve this great opportunity that we’ve all been afforded. I couldn’t be happier for the different mix. It’s an exciting place for the WWE.
The WWE universe has a lot of talent to look forward to in the coming years, so I’m excited. I’m proud to be a product of WWE development. And the short time that I did NXT served great justice for me along with the time that I did with The Shield and just rolling with Dean and Seth, and now I’m covering my own path. And I’m looking forward to what I can do with my future.
In speaking of NXT, I hate turn on a bad note, but a couple of legends have been lost from the pro wrestling world, including Dusty Rhodes, who I know was very instrumental in helping behind the scenes in NXT. What was your experience like working with Dusty Rhodes while you were coming up through NXT?
Just in regards to Dusty, the Dream, I can’t thank him enough for the experience that I had with him, and the mentoring. Just being able to pick his brain and talk to him. You would be very surprised with how little amount of time you need to be around a top guy to learn from him. To sit under that tree and just try to absorb as much as possible. And that’s how he was, because he did it through so many different eras and generations. He affected so many superstars, so for me to be able to tap into that resource, for him to believe in me—and this is my personal relationship with Dusty—he believed in me at 270 lbs. soft with short hair. Not at all what I am today. I mean, honestly, I don’t think he saw me wearing SWAT gear and being a part of The Shield, but he knew I had what it took to get to where I am. He knew I had that type of ambition and he always told me, “You have it, you couldn’t get rid of it even if you wanted to.” And for me to hear that at such an early stage, that did nothing but [boost my] momentum and positivity for my entire career. And for that I thank the whole family. All of them. I’m a firm believer in them and I’m very thankful for the short time I got to spend with Dusty; it definitely wasn’t long enough.
With SummerSlam coming up VERY soon, what's your gameplan when it comes to dealing with Bray Wyatt and the Wyatt Family in Brooklyn later this month?
The plan is on par with what I’ve been doing for the past four or five pay per-views. I’m very serious about this big fight. I’m not kidding when I tell people that I bring the big fight. It’s a game changer. It’s a whole different attitude. The whole arena changes.
Like I said before, I’m willing to go out there and do what no one else is willing to do. I’m willing to take myself out if that’s what needs to be done. So if you put someone like me and Ambrose together and you put us against a couple bearded Wyatts, you already know the house is about to burn down, so collect your spare change and buy a ticket because we are going to rip that building apart. It’s exactly what you think it’s going to be. It’s going to be vicious. It’s going to be a fight. It’s going to be aggressive. It’s going to be a big fight and it’s going to be four different personalities trying to tear each other’s throats out.
If you aren’t sold on that, go watch Oprah or something.