Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan and Edge will battle over the WWE Universal Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 37 Night Two this coming Sunday. All three men have faced medical hurdles in the past that nearly robbed them of their careers — Edge's neck injury, Reigns' leukemia and Bryan's concussions — and in a new interview with CBS Sports this week the trio talked about that connection they all share.
Starting with "The Tribal Chief," this year's Mania will mark Reigns' return to the main event after a four-year streak from WrestleManias 31-34. He competed in his first singles match after his cancer was declared in remission at WrestleMania 35, then was absent from WrestleMania 36 due to personal reasons.
"To be honest, I don't think I've ever really focused on it," Reigns said. "I think that's just due to the experience. I think where we can all be connected and you can parallel all of our mindset is that we are all thankful for today and the opportunity that comes with today. I think in all of our own ways, we've experienced that feeling when it's not there. We've all woken up and the show went on without us. While we haven't all sat down and talked about it, there's a weird connection and chemistry. I'm not sure if they feel the same way or have experienced the same thing, but I can feel that through them. I can feel that gratitude, that gratefulness of having the opportunity to wake up and do what we love outside of our families and our children and our wives. We all deeply appreciate the opportunity to have the health to wake up and be physical beings, to be athletes, to be storytellers. There's not a form of entertainment like we do where you exercise every sense, every emotion, everything from the feel, touch, smell -- everything is a part of our show. That's where we are deeply connected."
Bryan had to retire outright from wrestling shortly after WrestleMania 31, but after years of extensive therapy he was cleared for a return and came back at WrestleMania 34.
"What's weird is that it's crossed my mind, but I've not actually done any deep thinking about it. No deep appreciation of it," Bryan said. "That's something that needs to happen for myself. So many things in life go by so fast, right? Now, my family — and I'm sure all three families — are in this stage where as COVID stuff is getting lifted, that means my wife is busier and she's also going into the Hall of Fame. We're like ships passing in the night sometimes with coming and going with the kids and all that kind of stuff and the travel and all that stuff. Sometimes, you get too caught up in not truly appreciating how amazing it really is."
Finally there's Edge. The "Rated-R Superstar" had to retire back in 2011 due to several neck injuries and surgeries, but was able to make his surprise return at the 2020 Royal Rumble. He spent the back half of 2020 dealing with a separate injury (a torn tricep), but came back in time to win the 2021 Rumble.0comments
"Right now, nothing feels real," Edge said. "That aspect of that thing is there with three guys who, at one point or another, thought that could be it. If you look at that aspect of the story, it's hard to hate any of the characters, and that's a part of our job. If you're looking at this from the aspect of Joe, Bryan and Adam, we're three guys who thought at some point that this would never happen again. That's kind of crazy. It really is. I think we'll have a moment to really sit and reflect on that, but it might not be until after the match. Then it will be like, 'OK, we got that done. We did it. And there was a time we thought we'd never be doing it.' That's pretty special."
Who do you think walks out of WrestleMania as the Universal Champion? Let us know in the comments below!