John Cena Says Roman Reigns Needed The WWE ThunderDome to Establish His Tribal Chief Persona

John Cena sat down with Chris Van Vliet this week and, on top of confirming his WWE return at some point down the road, the 16-time former world champion talked about WWE's return to touring in front of live fans. Cena has talked in great detail about the importance live fans play in pro wrestling before, but he also pointed out how a lack of fans gave Roman Reigns the chance to develop his "Tribal Chief" persona. Other than WrestleMania 37, Reigns hasn't been in front of a live crowd since his heel turn last August.

Cena explained (h/t Cageside Seats), "I also think that this time without an audience has allowed performers like let's say Roman Reigns for example, to unobstructively mold his character. If you send Roman Reigns from city to city to city, with paying audience after paying audience, there may be some audiences that don't even care what he wants or has to say. They just want to boo him, or cheer him, or whatever. Without that, especially when developing a character, when trying to get the message across, when trying to hand someone your business card. I think Roman Reigns has absolutely needed this time, and in it he has developed himself, his personality - found out who he is. So now when he goes back to live audiences, they're not confused. He's spent this 15 month block defining who he is and he's the one that can benefit from this.

"Whereas established performers, I think I really would have had a tough time with no audiences," he added. "I as a performer, and what I enjoy out of the performance, I am happy for the WWE to have crowds again. I really look forward to getting back in front of those crowds. But I'm just happy for everybody that their music can hit and they can feel that genuine excitement that makes all of our hearts beat."

Elsewhere in the interview, Cena talked about how Reigns' position as the top guy in WWE might give him the space to finally portray a heel character.

"Now as WWE invests and builds its roster, it has a wealth of talent and truly has many anchors to the ship now," he said. "Certainly [with] Roman being a very, very marketable and definitive star. I think the reason for me not to explore that side is because WWE didn't feel confident they had any alternative [top star in the company]. And I respect that business choice, I really do. But now with them really laying their foundation for the future, even for life in the next decade or so, maybe... maybe. I don't know."