The cancellation of Roman Reigns vs. Bill Goldberg at WrestleMania 36 just days before the event was one of the more shocking moments in WrestleMania history. The coronavirus pandemic across the globe has created an unusual situation across the entertainment landscape, and WWE was no different. Reigns' has a history of leukemia, which made participating in a wrestling match during a pandemic a risky proposition that he was not willing to follow through with. Instead, WWE presented Braun Strowman vs. Goldberg, with Strowman leaving WrestleMania the new Universal Champion.
Goldberg spoke about the changes to WrestleMania during an interview with Carcast.
"I go to Orlando, I tape, I come back here and quarantine. It's just been like 'Groundhog Day'. Obviously, I had a change of opponents at the very last moment. Roman Reigns, everybody knows he has leukemia, he's in remission and obviously his immune system is down," Goldberg said. "I don't know why it was even considered in the beginning besides he'd invested the time and WWE invested the money in the angle, the match. So literally until the 23rd hour, it was still a possibility that he and I were going to wrestle. Plans changed at the very last minute. I did my match with [Braun Strowman] and it was possible that I could do a match with Roman again before the fifth [of April], that obviously fell through."
He continued, "It was still a possibility on [Roman's] end that he could go through with the match. We went to the [WWE Performance Center] and our temperatures were taken when we walked in, the place was scrubbed up and down, there were a limited amount of people allowed in and out of the building, it was very controlled. I think what happened was somebody was sick and Roman had heard about it. They just had the flu, but just the fact that someone was sick under those circumstances, at the end of the day, he just couldn't do it. More power to him to continually want to get it done, whether that's realistic or unrealistic from a person in his shoes [is] concerned but you've got to love the guy because up to the 11th hour, he was still willing to do it."
Goldberg went on to discuss the match he did eventually have with Strowman at WrestleMania 36.
"I'd never wrestled Braun before we had no story. Yeah, there was no lead up to it whatsoever. It was a reality check. You know, this was a time where everybody knows Roman's situation. So it's not a fabricated story, it's reality. And so the reality was literally playing out right in front of everybody's eyes. Braun and I's included," Goldberg admitted. "I mean, he had no clue that he was going to be doing that match, nor did I. But, you know, in this business, you got to learn to roll with the punches. You've got to satiate everybody. Need luck. Got to look at the big picture. You know, you've got to take everything into consideration at the same time. You can't risk injury or perform whatever it is. But, you know, we just had to do our jobs. Yeah. No matter how unprepared we were for it, these guys wrestle, you know, a number of times a week. I wrestle two times a year. So it's a little different story for me. For them, you know, it's old habits. It's just what they do."
Goldberg continued, "That's another thing. Man, you know, you feel as though you have a responsibility to the public. Yeah. Cause you do. We're one of the very few entities that are going on right now. And at the same time, you feel as though you're being irresponsible. So it's a fine line, you know. But yeah, it's a business. Vince McMahon's a businessman, and he was there. So he's not gonna ask anybody to do anything that he wouldn't do. So, he at least showed up. You know, people could see that and understand that he was willing to put himself in a situation that, you know, was obviously good enough for an older person."
[H/T to Fightful for the transcription]