Over the years, WWE has made a concerted effort to make its product and storylines look more like professional sports and less like a variety show. But when its top character has an actual case of leukemia, is WWE wrong to sprinkle that fact into their narratives?
Roman Reigns doesn't seem to think so.
In October, Reigns revealed he needed to step away from WWE in order to fight off leukemia. An in an interview with Yahoo Sports, Reigns talked about the delicacy of sharing that news on a WWE stage as a WWE character.
“That’s where it’s hard. The majority of the time, we’re just factoring in Roman, the character, but who I really am,
That same night, WWE used the emotional residue of Reigns' somber announcement to opportunistically turn Dean Ambrose heel. WWE took some heat for the shrewd decision, but Reigns seems to understand that the decision was made to maximize Ambrose, not exploit his leukemia.
Ironically, Ambrose's heel turn fizzled out quickly, but that may have more to do with him being set to leave the company in April. But weeks after Ambrose's exit hit the wire, Reigns returned with news of remission. On February 25, Reigns opened Monday Night Raw to make a very cathartic announcement.0comments
“When we got to the comeback speech, I was scared because I wanted it to be perfect and I wanted people to really understand and really feel my gratitude toward the outreach,” Anoa'i said. “It was one of those situations where the closer we got, I was getting writer’s block, everything was going fuzzy on me. I couldn’t think straight and I think it was just my nerves. I kept telling myself, when you get out there, you’ll know what to say. Instinct will take over," he said.
Two weeks later, Reigns was teaming up with Seth Rollins and Ambrose at Fastlane in what's being called The Shield's final chapter.