By JUSTIN BARRASSO August 21, 2019
SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath the surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.
How Roman Reigns Is Inspired by Becky Lynch
Roman Reigns and Becky Lynch are the cover stars for WWE 2K20, an accolade only bestowed upon the most elite stars in the business. The honor is not lost on Reigns, particularly after the year he battled through, and he takes additional satisfaction in his cover co-star.
“To share this with Becky makes it even more special,” said Reigns. “To be able to share this past year with her, breaking barriers, I’m pretty proud of that.”
Currently in the midst of a storyline with Daniel Bryan, Reigns also just signed a contract extension with WWE. He is a homegrown, WWE-created star, and his list of accomplishments—including replacing John Cena as the face of the company—is remarkable. He endured a harrowing stretch in the fall of 2018, learning that he needed to go through chemotherapy for a second bout with leukemia. But just like his character in the ring, Reigns—34-year-old Joe Anoa’i—persevered and found a way to defeat a ruthless opponent.
Reigns rejoiced with his family when he learned that his cancer was in remission, and then celebrated the moment with a return at WrestleMania 35. Now he achieves another milestone by gracing the cover of WWE 2K20.
“This means a lot, and it’s something I’ve been chasing,” said Reigns, who refuses to hide his hunger for competition. “When I saw Seth [Rollins] on the cover and the commercial that he did, I’m not going to lie—I was so happy for him—but it was so cool that it did make me envious. To be a part of this process and see this one come to life, it’s pretty neat. This is one of those things as a WWE superstar, you want to have this opportunity, you want to be on the cover.”
Sharing the cover with Lynch helps showcase two of WWE’s brightest stars. Reigns, who had closed out the prior four WrestleManias, watched in awe as Lynch made her WrestleMania main event debut in April.
“I thought Becky was phenomenal,” said Reigns. “But that goes a lot deeper than just her main event with Ronda and Charlotte. I’m talking about her whole career. She busted her ass to get to that position. Trying new stuff, evolving, troubleshooting, so to see that type of dedication organically and then to see it organically work out was a total Cinderella story.
“Becky has created this larger-than-life character, and that’s pretty motivating for me as a young father trying to help my young daughter to become a strong woman.”
Reigns gently laughed when asked if there was any way to prepare for a WrestleMania main event, explaining that experience is needed in order to know.
“You have those nerves, you have those doubts and insecurities, all until you get through it,” explained Reigns. “Then you’re never the same again. You’re a main-eventer for the rest of your life.
“If you’re in that position, you’re going to fight for everything. At the end of the day, you’re doing the same thing in the same ring that you do every single week, but that moment and experience can’t be replaced. The responsibility is yours to close it out and send them home happy, and it’s the magnitude that makes it so different.”
While not known for his video game prowess, Reigns believes he matches up favorably against most of the WWE roster. And he is looking forward to the new elements in 2K20, which include mixed tag matches, the storyline-driven “2K Showcase,” and a “WWE Towers” storyline centered around him.
“They’ve done such a good job with the detail,” said Reigns. “It feels realistic and there is so much reality in the game. Everybody seems to be so interested in our backstage life, so that story mode and the customizations give you that backstage feel.”
Reigns’ legacy in wrestling will be forever linked to his time with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose in The Shield. Following a breathtaking performance with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, Rollins is the reigning Universal champion, while Ambrose is setting the wrestling world aflame in AEW, New Japan, and the indies as Jon Moxley. Despite their current success, Reigns has no doubt that he would wreck either of them in any video game.
“I’ll whoop both of them,” said Reigns. “Absolutely Dean. Seth can get it, too.”