Roman Reigns will win the Universal Championship he never lost and elevate SmackDown on FOX to new heights. But that will have to wait. Because there are more important things than wrestling.
Professional wrestlers put their health and, yes, lives on the line for our entertainment. WWE superstars bear their flaws for the world to see in promos, make themselves vulnerable so that we can draw inspiration from them, and help us through difficult times.
Roman Reigns has been one of the most inspirational wrestlers we’ve come to know. He’s been classy in the face of hatred from fans who can’t seem to use logic or basic decency in many cases. Reigns has always been there for younger fans and draws adulation from a diverse group of fans who are drawn to his presence and message.
He also faced leukemia, relinquishing the Universal Championship in late 2018 in order to fight a more important battle outside the ring. Many fans, especially those who were struggling or had one suffered from cancer, drew further inspiration from Reigns, who faced irresponsible speculation from others.
Yet as always, Reigns remained above the noise and became a source of courage for wrestling fans.
WrestleMania 36 was supposed to be a big event for Reigns. He was supposed to win the Universal Championship off Goldberg, potentially in the main event, bringing his real-life comeback full circle. Reigns would be the bad-ass, full-time world champion that SmackDown on FOX so desperately needed, and it would have been a story for the ages.
Instead, as Pro Wrestling Sheet’s Ryan Satin reports, Roman Reigns won’t be competing at WrestleMania 36 in the midst of the novel coronavirus. As someone who has dealt with cancer, Reigns’ immune system is compromised and would thus be especially vulnerable to this deadly, scary disease.
WWE has kept its programming going in an effort to entertain wrestling fans, who need an escape and something to unite them while keeping socially isolated. But the wrestlers themselves are still working. They are not socially isolated during this pandemic. Their may be precautions, but nothing is foolproof. For workers who are not unionized and, quite frankly, underpaid, they are not justly compensated for taking this risk to entertain us, as helpful as its been to fans.
Reigns’ brave decision to focus on his health is important for many reasons, and for as much as I’ve enjoyed wrestling lately, it’s a reminder that WrestleMania and other shows shouldn’t be going on at this time. The safety of the performers we love – these human beings who have inspired us so much over the years – should be paramount.
With this decision, Reigns has reminded us that health and safety are most important. It’s a sentiment he echoed in a recent tweet, and it’s the only thing that matters at this point. We can find happiness and connection in other ways. But there is only one Roman Reigns. The man, like every other wrestler in the building, has a family who loves him and needs him.
So remember that the wrestlers entertaining you at WrestleMania are doing this at a risk to their health beyond the normal risk of wrestling. Remember they are human. Remember what truly matters. Remember the decision Roman Reigns made and pray he, who has just come from another battle with leukemia, and others will remain safe during this outbreak.
Most of all, keep caring for the ones you love. Pray for them. Stay safely connected. And for goodness’ sakes, do your best to stay inside for the betterment of us all. We’ll get through this together. With a love and empathy for humanity on our side, we got this.
For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.