Roman Reigns appeared on Monday Night Raw back on Oct. 22, 2018 with a shocking announcement — the battle with leukemia he had years before signing with the WWE returned, and that he would need to relinquish the Universal Championship and step away from the wrestling business for the foreseeable future. No one was sure at the time just how long Reigns would be gone, but on Feb 25, 2019 he returned to Raw with the outstanding news that his cancer was officially in remission.
"The Tribal Chief" took to Twitter on Thursday with a few words of inspiration to celebrate the two-year anniversary of his announcement.
Wake me up God.— Roman Reigns (@WWERomanReigns) February 25, 2021
And I will handle the rest. #BelieveInTheFight
Reigns returned to action shortly after that announcement, first with one last reunion of The Shield (Dean Ambrose would leave the company less than two months later) and later at WrestleMania 35 with his first single match (against future WWE Champion Drew McIntyre).
The 35-year-old once again had to step away from WWE programming last year right before WrestleMania 36, though this time it was for personal reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. His return at SummerSlam four months later saw the arrival of Reigns' new heel persona as "The Tribal Chief." He won the Universal Championship back one week later and has been utterly ruthless in his dominance as champion ever since.
"So, it was one of those things where it was like, 'Man, I want to do this because I know I can tap into a different level of character work. I know I can create so many more layers as a performer if they allow me to do this, but the numbers just wouldn’t let me," Reigns said. "Like I said before, the response, no matter what, was always big. And in this day and age, I think, controversy has always sold, but, if you don’t have a certain level of negativity coming at you, you might not be doing as good as you think you are."
He later added, "When the opportunity came I jumped on it. It was kind of a team discussion. Obviously, you gotta have the big man involved and gotta have the blessing from him. But, it just all seemed to work out with perfect timing. I think we’re in a point where we’re in a time frame, being in a pandemic, no crowds, no tickets sales, let’s just create this content and take care of our television providers and our audiences watching at home. Let’s take a chance. If this ain’t the time to gamble, then I don’t know when is. So, I’m glad we did."