When Brock Lesnar confronted Paul Heyman at SmackDown after the Summerslam to claim a shot at the Universal Title, the narrative was set. Paul Heyman, who had been a trusted aid for the Beast Incarnate over the years, is now on The Tribal Chief’s side but things are not smooth between Heyman and Reigns.
The Usos have confronted Heyman but the advocate has claimed innocence, stressing that he was not aware of Lesnar’s return at the Summer Slam. Things got interesting when Lesnar signed the contract on October 16 SmackDown, stressing that he read the contract with “my advocate” Heyman before heading to the ring.
Roman Reigns has been the face of WWE SmackDown ever since he returned in 2020 but he faces a stiff challenge for his Universal Title. It’s Brock Lesnar who has grabbed all the limelight in the lead up to the Crown Jewel. Indeed, Lesnar, who held the Universal Title for more than 500 days during the time he ran the roster in 2017-18, will not go down without a fight.
Ahead of the much-anticipated Crown Jewel showdown, scheduled for October 21, Roman Reigns spoke to indiatoday.in about his rivalry with Brock Lesnar, equation with Paul Heyman and the pressure of being the biggest star on the roster.
Q: What can fans expect from the latest chapter of your rivalry with Brock Lesnar?
Roman Reigns: I think the most obvious thing is how the roles have reversed and how the whole dynamic has shifted one-eighty. The direction of where each personality has been, and where it is going, all the way through to the alliance of Paul Heyman – everything has changed with me and Brock.
In the past, Brock was probably the most prestigious Universal Champion we have had, definitely in terms of Title reign – but that pales into comparison against what I have been able to achieve in the last year and a half.
Being a full-time performer and being able to showcase weekly on Smackdown, and then every month, and sometimes more, being able to defend that Title on every major pay-per-view from the Big-Four down, has made a big difference to where we are both at.
A lot of things have changed for me and Brock – but one thing that hasn’t is our physicality in the ring. Brock has done well against me years ago, but recently I think I have had the upper hand – and that upper hand lies with me in so many ways.
Q: Can you recall your thoughts on “that spear” at the Greatest Royal Rumble?
Roman Reigns: I feel like I was robbed of victory on that night. The object was to get out of the steel cage, and I feel like I did all the work to get both of us out – and not only that if we were to review the tape and I had a Special Counsel, a Paul Heyman in my corner, we could have gone back to the replays and took a better look at it.
This is another moment that justifies my reasoning for working with someone like Paul Heyman to make sure some of these robberies never happen to me in my career again. Creating a moment like spearing Brock Lesnar through a steel cage in Saudi Arabia, and for me not to come out of that night as the Universal Champion is one of the biggest screw jobs in the history of WWE.
Nonetheless, it was an electric finish and the live crowd ate it up, but that is just one of many moments myself and Brock Lesnar can create, and it is what makes people excited when they see a couple of alphas facing off – the measure of destruction, physicality, intensity and that level of energy we bring to table.
Q: How would you describe Paul Heyman?
Lot of people don’t see the things that Paul Heyman does for a perfomer: Roman Reigns (Courtesy: WWE)
Roman Reigns: Paul Heyman has a very wide skillset, and there are a lot of great behind-the-scenes details he can keep in check. A lot of people don’t get to see the little things he does for a performer, so for me that is something that is now in place and it is something Brock is lacking. There are so many responsibilities and tasks I don’t have to worry about now, the only thing I have to focus on is the battle plan – what is going to happen when I walk out of the curtain and defend the WWE Universal Championship – Paul has everything else covered.
I just have to show up and make sure the ring announcer is saying ‘and still’ at the end of the match. But that’s not the same for Brock anymore, everything falls on him.
Q: How exciting is it to once again perform in front of live audiences?
There is a huge difference in the WWE product when you compare it to having live fans, as opposed to having the ThunderDome. That was us as a product trying to do the best we could with the circumstances and continuing to deliver an experience for our fanbase. There is nothing like being in front of a live audience though – wrestling in front of no one sucks. It is something we had to adapt to and make work, but it hurts. It does not feel good. I can legitimately tell you then when you have a sold-out arena, or a stadium jam-packed full of people going nuts, that energy and those positive vibes are like a Superman shot.
You can be suffering from food poisoning, throwing up, on the floor, then your music will hit, and you’ll struggle your way to the curtain, but as soon as you step through it, and you hear that live reaction it all goes away. I could have a broken arm and walk out there, and it would probably feel fine and like I can still do my job. That’s the energy and excitement the live crowd brings, and Saudi Arabia is no different. We only get over there a couple of times a year and it has been a while now due to the pandemic, so I am expecting crazy, crazy energy out there.
Q: What are the challenges you face in SmackDown being the biggest superstar in the brand?
Roman Reigns: My position as the Head of the Table, the Tribal Chief, is a very busy position, especially when you have the likes of Brock Lesnar lurking and dropping in from time to time. There are always going to be crosshairs on me and I will always be targeted – not only because I’m the Universal Champion, but I am the face of the WWE.
A lot of people talk about the top guys, well if you round up all of those top guys and ask who the top, top, guy is – it’s me. I’m the flag on top of the mountain. I have to stay within my own process and focus and keep doing what I am doing and let everyone else try to catch up.
I’ve not had enough time to dig into the Draft, due to all the messiness and drama that’s been going on with Paul and Brock, but the one notable name on everyone’s mind, because he’s such a big star, and built so much momentum especially though the pandemic, and carried the RAW brand for quite some time, is Drew McIntyre. You don’t have a guy with the build, the experience, the tenure, and accolades that are quickly stacking up, shift over to SmackDown and not take notice. He is title hungry.
He is one of those guys who you could say is a top guy, but he’s not the top guy, and I think that bothers him. I have told him before, and I know he doesn’t like that number two label, but that’s the reality of the situation.
Him and all the other guys are fighting it out for number two, as long as I am healthy and I continue to have air in my lungs that’s the way it’s going to stay.
Watch the Extraaa Dhamaal Show at 8:30 pm (IST) followed by WWE Crown Jewel 2021 – LIVE on SONY TEN 1 (English), SONY TEN 3 (Hindi) and SONY TEN 4 (Tamil and Telugu) channels on October 21, 2021, from 9:30 pm (IST).