Leati Joseph Anoaʻi, known around the world as WWE superstar Roman Reigns, revealed to the world on Monday night that his leukemia has returned and he’ll be stepping away from the ring for a period of time to be with his family as he undergoes treatment.
Anoaʻi began his promo on Raw by stating “my real name is Joe, and I’ve been living with Leukemia for 11-years and unfortunately it’s back.”
He tearfully told the crowd that he was going to be away from WWE for an unknown period of time, which meant he would be forced to relinquish the WWE Universal championship. He then shared the story of when he was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 22. Anoa’i said he was able to “very quickly” put it in remission.
As Anoa’i continued his moment with the audience that embraces him on a weekly basis with a thunderous, but not always positive … to say the least … response, he said that he didn’t want anyone to feel bad to him. Anoa’i’s connection with WWE’s audience is unique, so it took them a moment to put away their dislike for the character Anoa’i portrays and show appreciation for the human being that has been thrown a life curveball.
A loud “Thank You Roman” erupted after he told the fans that they had helped his dreams come true. Anoa’i said this wasn’t a retirement speech and that he would be back as quickly as possible. Anoa’i then carefully laid the belt in the ring and was embraced by Jonathan David Good (Dean Ambrose) and Colby Lopez (Seth Rollins).