WWE is widely regarded as ‘fake’, but this very real and raw moment left fans completely stunned.
On Monday night (local time), Roman Reigns – real name Joe Anoa’i – revealed that he was taking a leave of absence as he battles leukaemia.
The stunning announcement opened ‘Raw’ as Anoa’i revealed that he has battled the disease in the past and that he had been in remission since 2008.
Anoa’i, one of the biggest stars in the WWE, revealed that due to his health, he would be relinquishing the Universal Championship, which he was set to defend in a triple-threat match against Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman at the “Crown Jewel” event set to take place next month in Saudi Arabia.
“My real name is Joe and I’ve been living with leukaemia for 11 years and unfortunately, it’s back. And because the leukaemia is back, I cannot fulfil my role, I can’t be that fighting champion [I said I would be],” Anoa’i announced live to fans.
— WWE (@WWE) October 23, 2018
The crowd, which normally heavily boos the former Georgia Tech football star, gave Anoa’i an emotional ovation and chanted “Thank you, Roman” during the announcement.
Anoa’i laid his championship belt in the centre of the ring and was then joined by his stablemates Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins as he made his teary-eyed departure.
— WWE (@WWE) October 23, 2018
Anoa’i, who said his previous bout with the cancer ended his football career, vowed to return to WWE.
“I want to make one thing clear, by no means is this a retirement speech, because after I’m done [beating] leukaemia once again, I’m coming back home.”
Following Anoa’i’s announcement, support from around the wrestling world poured in.
♥️ THANKYOU, @WWERomanReigns. Praying for you and your family.
— Nattie (@NatbyNature) October 23, 2018
— Booker T. Huffman (@BookerT5x) October 23, 2018
@WWERomanReigns My Family And I Are Thinking Of You And Are Keeping You In Our Prayers! We Are Here For You! 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
— Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) October 23, 2018
Our job gives us the ability to portray larger than life characters who possess super human qualities and characteristics.
After hearing his story it's very apparent that Joe Anoa'i is just as much of a superhero as "Roman Reigns" is.#ThankYouRoman
— Johnny Gargano (@JohnnyGargano) October 23, 2018
Just saw the @WWERomanReigns news. Absolutely heartbreaking. Roman is one of nicest guys I have ever met in this business and was a pleasure every time I had the pleasure to work with him. My best wishes to him!
— John Layfield (@JCLayfield) October 23, 2018
There are many kids as well as adults out there battling disease, who look up to @WWERomanReigns as the superhero he portrays on tv for strength.Joe has defeated leukemia in the past & will do the same now-as he is also a superhero in real life.Get well soon, you’ve got this Uce. pic.twitter.com/sa9D87ZUhU
— Justin Roberts (@JustinRoberts) October 23, 2018
I had one dream. Just one. That was to see a WWE live event. They came to little Casper Wyoming and my daughter got a picture! #prayforJoe #RAW @WWERomanReigns THANK YOU! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/kXlsCdrFva
— XanDrenia (@WyobrattOG) October 23, 2018
— Kristin Willis-Toro (@geishagirl11675) October 23, 2018