Roman Reigns was supposed to be in one of the two marquee WrestleMania matches this year. He was the runner-up at the Royal Rumble 2020, but that didn't stop him from becoming the Universal title challenger.
Roman Reigns simply walked up to Goldberg and said "I'm next", setting up a blockbuster Universal title match for WrestleMania 36. Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened and the subsequent lockdown, leading WWE to shift the venue from the Raymond James Stadium in Miami, Florida, to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.
For Roman Reigns, it came down to the decision of potentially risking his life and the health of his family, which is why he had to make the decision to pull out of WrestleMania 36 with little notice.
Braun Strowman ended up taking his spot and defeating Goldberg to become the Universal Champion. When asked by Corey Graves on After The Bell about how he felt watching WrestleMania 36 from the couch, Roman Reigns admitted that "it sucked":
"It sucks. It was like a two-night event. I would imagine I would have closed the nights. The inside thing for me is that I'm a four-star general. I've main evented four WrestleManias. In my head, the fifth time was coming. It would have been in the back of a shirt. It would have been on merchandise. Even last year, to be able to get healthy again and rush back. I could have taken a lot more time for myself but that's a part of the sacrifice. That should be 'Top guy area', where you're constantly thinking about everyone else. You're constantly thinking about your contributions to the business and the company and keep it up where it needs to be, and that responsibility you're given and sometimes you take. When you wear those shoes as being the face of the WWE, there's only a few guys out there who can understand where I come from and that mindset - and willing to put everything on the line whether I'm healthy.
Roman Reigns stated that his top-guy mentality meant that he would have even pushed through leukemia and wrestled had it not been a legitimate threat:
If it wasn't for the leukemia being a legitimate danger with any physical contact, I would have wrestled if I could. If it was possible for me to go through treatment while wrestling, I would have done it."
How different would things have been with Roman Reigns as the Universal Champion?
There's no doubt that Roman Reigns would have defeated Goldberg at WrestleMania 36 and held the Universal Championship. However, the chances are that we would never have seen the character alteration that we did.
To add to that, some superstars should take time away and return to add more excitement. While Roman Reigns wasn't a hated babyface before he took his leave, his current direction is far more exciting than anything he would have done in the four months from WrestleMania 36 to SummerSlam 2020.Published 25 Sep 2020, 09:06 IST