Top WWE star Roman Reigns shocked fans with the sudden announcement that he's battling leukemia, and relinquished the Universal Championship. For about 10 years of WWE history, John Cena was the company's top star, becoming famous for his mixed crowd reactions along the way. In more recent times, that mantle was taken over by Reigns, as Cena spends more and more time in Hollywood starring in films. Like Cena though, whatever one thinks about the booking of the Roman Reigns character, it's hard to argue with the fact that the man behind that character is an extremely hardworking, dedicated professional.
Reigns of course first debuted on WWE's main roster in late-2012, as part of the heel faction The Shield. Alongside partners Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, Reigns made an immediate impact, with the group spending the better part of two years dominating the WWE, putting on incredible trios matches, and racking up titles. The Shield's breakup in 2014 led to singles success for all three members, with Reigns in particular shooting into the stratosphere. Many fans take issue with Reigns' perceived status as the chosen one of the McMahon family, but one can tell watching him perform in the ring that he's doing his best to entertain those who buy tickets to WWE shows.
Going into tonight's episode of WWE Monday Night Raw, Reigns was the current holder of the Universal Championship, and scheduled to defend the title against Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman in a triple threat match at WWE's exceedingly controversial Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia on November 2. However, that all changed in an instant, when Reigns (real name Joe Anoa'i) came out to the ring to reveal that his leukemia (in remission since 2008) had returned, and that he would be taking a leave of absence in order to combat the disease. Reigns then left the Universal Championship in the ring.
Strowman and Lesnar will now have a one-on-one encounter at Crown Jewel, to determine the new Universal Champion. Obviously though, the main takeaway is that it's unclear when or if Reigns will ever be able to return to action, although he made it clear he fully intends to do so should his fight against the illness go well. Thankfully, the often vocally anti-Reigns crowd reacted to his sad news appropriately, putting aside their issues with the character in order to offer their support to the man who portrays him.
Should Reigns have to retire young, it would certainly lead to a seismic shift in the WWE landscape, as the company would be forced to elevate someone else into his spot as the top man on Raw. Hopefully, "The Big Dog" manages to pull through, returns to the ring, and is once again handing out spears like candy before too long. Cancer is a terrible illness, but Reigns can at least rest assured he'll have the full support of his WWE family, both colleagues and fans. Even if those fans might have previously been yelling out "Roman Sucks!" at the top of their lungs.