WWE has released incredible backstage video of how Roman Reigns’ fellow stars reacted to his cancer announcement.
On Monday night (local time), 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.
— Seth Rollins Fans (@SethRollinsFans) October 23, 2018
The entire Raw roster then met Reigns backstage in a beautiful moment of solidarity.
WWE legends Triple H and Shaun Michaels embraced Reigns and offered some words of encouragement, before numerous stars on the current roster did likewise.
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
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) October 23, 2018
— Roman Reigns (@RomanB2R) October 23, 2018
All gimmicks aside, my prayers and thoughts are with you @WWERomanReigns . Much Ofas always Uce
— 'Bad Boy' Tama Tonga (@Tama_Tonga) October 23, 2018
.@WWERomanReigns The power of the Big Dog is in the heart. The hulkamaniacs, the #wweuniverse and I stand with you. We pray for you and we’ll all be waiting for you to hurry back in good health. Gods got you. Only Love HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) October 23, 2018
I’m just learning now of @WWERomanReigns leukemia diagnosis. Stunned. I liked and respected him from the moment I met him. Sending my very best wishes and prayers for you, Joe.
— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) October 23, 2018