Roman Reigns, the current WWE Universal champion, stunned the wrestling world and fans with the announcement on Monday Night Raw that he was forced to relinquish the title due to a recurrence of Leukemia.
In an emotional announcement at Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island, Reigns said, “I've been living with Leukemia for 11 years. Unfortunately, it's back. Because the Leukemia is back, I cannot fulfill my role, I cannot be that fighting champion. I am going to have to relinquish the Universal championship”.
However, Reigns ended the speech by asserting that this was not his retirement speech and that he would make a comeback to the ring once he defeats Leukemia.
Following the announcement, there was an outpouring of emotion from all WWE superstars and fans alike. John Cena, who is the 16-time world champion and many current and past WWE superstars led the tribute to Reigns.
Rich Wrestling Family
‘Courage - strength in the face of pain or grief.’ You have given us your everything including a courageously vulnerable moment. We, your WWE family, give you all of our love and support. #ThankYouRoman #NeverGiveUp— John Cena (@JohnCena) October 23, 2018
Reigns, whose real name is Leati Joseph Anoaʻi, belongs to a very famous wrestling family, many of whom have made their impact in the WWE. He is the cousin of Dwayne Johnson, more famously known as ‘The Rock’. He is also related to former professional wrestlers Yokozuna, Rikishi, Umaga and The Tonga Kid.
The 33-year-old made his WWE television debut on November 18, 2012 at The Survivor Series Pay Per View alongside Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. Reigns has won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship three times as well as the Universal Championship. He is also a one-time United States Champion, Intercontinental Champion, Tag Team Champion and also the 2015 Royal Rumble Winner. He is also only the second wrestler to defeat The Undertaker at Wrestlemania in 2017.
EXCLUSIVE: Moments after announcing that his returning leukemia has forced him to relinquish the Universal Championship, @WWERomanReigns is met with an outpouring of support backstage. #Raw pic.twitter.com/JRv0iYLILJ— WWE (@WWE) October 23, 2018
Reigns was supposed to wrestle Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman in a triple-threat match at WWE Crown Jewel PPV in Saudi Arabia. However, following Reigns’ decision, WWE has announced that Strowman and Lesnar’s showdown will determine a new champion.