October 16, 2019 by Brandon Stroud
Back in September, 2K Games announced that they would be partnering with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as part of the upcoming WWE 2K20‘s global marketing campaign:
Utilizing its extensive social media presence, 2K will issue a call-to-action via the WWE Games Twitter account, urging consumers to retweet and spread the LLS message and donation link. For each retweet, 2K will donate $2.00 to LLS, up to $500,000.00.* Consumers will not be required to make a purchase or donation but will simply be doing their part to encourage others to get involved and consider donating, volunteering time or becoming a social ambassador. In addition to its financial commitment to LLS, 2K will also provide copies of Company-published video games to blood cancer patients, coordinate visits with 2K personnel and WWE Superstars to hospital partners of LLS, host LLS personnel, patients and their families at upcoming WWE 2K20 promotional events, and more.
We were present for the 2K20 event last Friday, and as such had a chance to talk about the partnership with someone you may have heard of before: game cover Superstar and leukemia survivor Roman Reigns. The Big Dog talked about the importance of supporting cancer awareness both in real life and to naturally doubtful wrestling fans, as well as sharing the cover of the game with Becky Lynch, and why he’s supporting Seth Rollins following Hell in a Cell.
With Spandex: 2K’s partnering with the Leukemia And Lymphoma Society. Thoughts on that personally?
Roman Reigns: I just think it’s awesome. You know what I mean? If you’re in a position to help, I just don’t see why not. I was literally just talking to Ric Flair about it. The miles and the money mean nothing if you don’t have that fulfillment. And my work with LLS, just being able to connect with these, these little heroes and warriors, it is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever been a part of. You can only get those types of smiles from your children or your loved ones, like your wife or your, your girlfriend, that type of love.
And to be able to help people out and support them as they’re going through a rough patch it just means a lot to me because it came to me tenfold the support, it felt like a global support. So I mean, for me to be able to take that and just relax and heal, I feel like it is more than my obligation to continue that and pay it forward and help those that are … and find themselves in a similar place that I was.
Why do you think it was so difficult for many wrestling fans to deal with the reality and the complexities of a guy they know having leukemia? Why do you think it was so difficult for WWE fans to get the reality of that? Because there were so many dumb opinions on the internet.
It’s almost like a dog. People picture rottweilers and pitfalls to just be mean because the reputation cancer has a reputation. Through depiction and film and just everything else and just putting it on a … As a picture, you don’t ever see someone 6’3, 260 pounds with cancer. It’s always an older, very frail, skinny, malnourished person, a very weak … But that’s sometimes quite the opposite.
And when I first was diagnosed, there wasn’t really many people that I could really connect with and share this with, but now you hear about it all the time. I just saw a commercial for the NFL about Eric Berry, safety for the Chiefs, I believe. You don’t look at him and think he had cancer. No, I mean he’s a beast. He’s running four-fours on the field, hitting, knocking people out on the field. You know, he’s a mad man out there. But that’s just the way it is. It’s not exactly what you expected it to be. So sometimes we just got to step back, inform ourselves, do a little bit of research, a little bit of due diligence and you’ll see, “Oh man, if I would’ve just Googled this,” took two minutes, but I get literally took you longer to post that, that negative thought as opposed to just looking up what was what.
So if people just step back, do a little research before they put it out there, I think a lot of that would’ve just been wiped clean. That was just people like instincts, just a impulsive reactions and they’re just going right away without just stepping back and like, “Let me use the Google machine real quick. Let me just … they’ll tell me about this stuff. Let me web MD this or LLS this.” LLS.org will tell you all about it.
You’ve have gotten so much love since coming back. You were so divisive as a character, and then you went away and you came back, and you’re beloved. How does that feel? The thought of not having you around was tough.
Yeah, it sucks for everybody, I think, especially me. But yeah, it was just one of those things that … I don’t know. I’ve never told the crowd how to react. That’s not my job. My job is to go perform and their job is to react accordingly. But there was always a reaction and it was quite, very loud reaction. So I never complained, like I never went through it and was like, “Man, I hate going out there to these really loud reactions.” No, it was excellent. It was just the fact that I couldn’t go out. That was the big problem. It wasn’t necessarily if it was boos, polarizing reaction or cheers. It was just the fact of not being out there that bothered me and I think bothered a lot of our fan base because they do … they recognize the work ethic. They recognize the schedule and the grind and they recognize the production.
So I think over the past six, seven, eight years, my work speaks for itself and hopefully I can stay healthy enough to continue that work because as much as I love to help people, it starts in that ring. To be able to take advantage of this platform, I need to be able to wrestle and to continue to create awareness, it starts here in the WWE for me, so hopefully I can just stay healthy and continue to do my thing.
How does it feel to be on the cover of 2K again next to [points toward Becky Lynch, being interviewed about two feet to Roman’s left] that one with the two belts?
You going to take that UpUpDownDown title from her at any point?
How did she get that? What game did she win? Heck is happening here? When is there going to be a Call Of Duty UpUpDownDown … there’s no way to do it. But yeah, I mean it’s just been phenomenal to, to share the spotlight with her and to be able to see her just come up. When I was out there were a handful of talent that really stepped up, but she led the way. Just to be able to see that and know that that’s what I had supporting me and allowing me to go home and allowing me to heal. I honestly feel almost a little greedy being on it with her. She had such a great year that I really think that we can just celebrate her individually.
But it’s just such a great honor to be able to share the cover with her, to be in that light with her as one of the top talent for this company. And hopefully it’ll be a great gaming experience and just a good year overall for everybody.
Recently you’ve had to come to the defense of Seth Rollins. Any opinions on the controversial end to Hell In A Cell and about the fans reacted? Because I know you’ve been on the the the ass end of some bad fan reactions before.
Yeah, it’s tough. You know what I mean? It, it was a situation obviously where the fans weren’t happy and of course we’re going to listen to them and then we want to hear what they got to say and their opinion of it, obviously because that’s who we cater to as our fans. So you never want that. But it’s just tough. I feel for those guys because when you go out there and you bust your ass and you put it all on the line, when you allow another man to swing toolboxes and all this X, Y, Z at your head …
Or a ladder to a chair to the head.
Yeah. And then you find your place out of the love for the theme character disrespecting both of the men. So yeah, I think you’ve got to really find that balance to where you can really pay the, the love and support towards the one character that you’re with without disrespecting both. Because at the end of the day, all those people who are really behind Bray Wyatt that night, they took a big dump all over everybody. I think there can, there can be some respect. By us going out there and doing our thing and busting our ass every single week, there’s a level of respect that we always keep for the fans. And hopefully that respect can be returned.