By Graham GSM MatthewsOctober 15, 2021
Universal champion Roman Reigns is at the head of the table and the top of the WWE mountain heading into a super-sized SmackDown.
Friday nights belong to Roman Reigns, and tonight’s super-sized SmackDown, airing on FS1 from 8 p.m. ET to 10:30 p.m., will be no exception.
The universal champion of 400-plus days is intent on making a statement ahead of his upcoming title defense against archrival Brock Lesnar at Crown Jewel on Thursday. It’s been a rocky road for Reigns en route to Saudi Arabia, but he promises to prevail and ensure he stays put at the head of the table.
It’s been a career year for Reigns on SmackDown, a show he has carried on his back since returning at SummerSlam 2020 following a five-month hiatus. He captured his second universal title a mere week later and has conquered every challenger who has stepped up to face him.
Having been synonymous with the success of SmackDown on Fox for the past two years, Reigns remaining on the blue brand in the recent WWE draft was academic. From the exceptional promo work to the masterful storytelling to the amazing matches, everything about his character is firing on all cylinders, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight to his historic run of dominance.
Ahead of a special, star-studded SmackDown on FS1, Reigns caught up with Bleacher Report to discuss his rivalry with Lesnar, why he bleeds blue, his iconic entrance music, standout matches of his from the past year and more.
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What He’s Looking Forward to as Part of the Super-Sized SmackDown
It’s commonplace for SmackDown to be stacked with star power, but it isn’t everyday that the show is two-and-a-half hours long.
Reigns is ready to confront Lesnar one last time before they clash for the Universal Championship at Crown Jewel. The episode will also feature Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch, Sonya Deville’s return to the ring against Naomi and more King of the Ring and Queen’s Crown tournament action.
He looks forward to “completing the process” on what is essentially SmackDown’s go-home show for Crown Jewel. He recognizes that Lesnar is his strongest—both literally and figuratively—opponent to date and doesn’t plan on taking him lightly.
“I don’t know if there’s another competitor or opponent on [Brock Lesnar’s] level of legitimacy and certainly a huge threat to everything I’ve done for the last year and a half,” Reigns said. “To complete this process, take it home and then get out there to Saudi Arabia and knock out Crown Jewel. Hear that, ‘And still Universal champion,’ jump on the jet, head back to Wichita to knock out another SmackDown. To me, it’s like a weekly process, and you get in that groove and it’s on to the next thing. What’s the next thing?
“Completion becomes a nice box to check, but at the same time, it’s about being on the road in Ontario in the L.A. area. It should be an awesome time with great energy, and where we are now, going through a pandemic and the uncertainty we’ve all sort of faced as a society, I think we have to take advantage and enjoy the little things, the little parts of being a human being and just interacting and having gratitude for what used to be the normal things in life.”
Appreciating Having Audiences Back but Hating Travel
WWE has been back on the road for its shows since July, and it’s still surreal to hear a reaction—any reaction—from the fans every time.
Reigns consistently gets one of the loudest pops of everyone on the roster any time he walks toward the ring. He sorely missed performing in front of fans during the empty-arena era and hasn’t taken that for granted since returning to the road.
“I appreciate being in front of a live audience—there’s no question,” he said. “It makes everything better about what we do, all the way from the energy to the affirmation to the physicality. It doesn’t hurt. It still sucks doing what we do in the ring from a pain standpoint and the physicality portions of it, but when you’re in front of nobody, it feels terrible. continue reading