Roman Reigns appears to be on a rapid rise to grabbing that infamous brass ring. The Slammy winner for Superstar of the Year in 2014 has his eyes set on being the last man standing in this month’s Royal Rumble where the winner will go on to a title shot and headline WrestleMania 31 in Levi’s Stadium.
A Reigns victory would be the launching pad to becoming the new face of WWE. Luckily for us at CraveOnline, Reigns let us pick his brain.
CraveOnline: Congrats on getting married. How’s married life?
Roman Reigns: Its good, its good. I’ve been with my wife for quite some time, damn near a decade so I managed to finally take the final step.
Preparing for The Rumble
CraveOnline: The Royal Rumble is this Sunday on the WWE Network, how do you prepare for the rumble considering its non-stop chaos with so many people in the ring?
Roman Reigns: There’s not too much preparation. It’s a once a year thing. You just got to make sure your wind is up, your cardio is good, your awareness and your peripheral vision is working because like you said, its madness, bodies are flying everywhere and you can get eliminated by anybody. There’s so many people that can gather up in the ring. You turn your back on one guy and the next thing you know you’re head over heels and you’re on the floor.
CraveOnline: At last year’s Royal Rumble, you set a record for the most eliminations and you got down to the final two, fans are chanting your name, booing the hell out of Batista, what do you recall feeling in that moment?
Roman Reigns: [Laughs] The first thing was “Man, my hair is so poofy right now. Why’s it so dried out?” Then I was thinking well, I’ve been in there for thirty minutes and that’s what happens and you can’t hold that moisture, man. I was just taking in the moment. It was a cool situation. The fans as usual, WWE Universe, they are extremely vocal. They’re unlike any crowd in the world and they were on fire that night so to just have that moment and feel that rumble, it’s a real thing. The crowd when it starts to come up, you can feel the ring shaking when they start stomping their feet and making that noise. It was just a surreal moment to see myself and Dave in there as the final two.
CraveOnline: You’re one of the favorites heading into the Royal Rumble. If you were to prevail, whom do you want for the championship at WrestleMania?
Roman Reigns: I’m willing to take on any three of those guys [Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Seth Rollins]. They’re obviously all-different match-ups. But I think I have a certain skill set that allows me to compete any shape or size or skill set so I think I have enough explosive raw power to compete with John and Brock and I have enough agility and speed and strength to compete with Seth so either way you cut it, I think it will be a great match-up. If I had to, I’d step in the ring with all three of those guys. I’m not scared of anybody.
“Everybody is a critic”
CraveOnline: The Royal Rumble is in Philly this year and been known to have a rowdy crowd. Do you ever pay attention to what fans or critics say and is there anything in particular you find amusing?
Roman Reigns: [Laughs] Yeah, I think its hard not to pay attention these days with all of the social media networks and all of the different outlets. It’s so easy to connect with fans nowadays. You know, I have a Twitter and things like that. I’m not a crazy Twitter guy to where I’m tweeting out stuff every day and rarely even once a week, do I tweet. But I mean, occasionally, I read some stuff.
The funny part is, you have a guy like me who is kind of getting like a mixed vibe from time-to-time. I get a lot of love and then you’ll get the hate in the middle of it but its just funny, the perspectives you know, the differences between the love and the hate. As far as the hate, it makes me laugh. Everybody is a critic. Every critic I’ve ever had, they weren’t wrestlers [laughs]. Every wrestler I’ve ever had critique me, they were always into my stuff or what I’m doing out there. For a non-wrestler, someone who doesn’t even know how to lock up, and if we did lock up, they wouldn’t know what to do, for them to critique any of us, it really does pop me.
CraveOnline: I always find that humorous. I think those types of people would be pissed off no matter what.
Roman Reigns: That’s what haters do. They hate because they hate their lives.
CraveOnline: You just returned a month ago from injury. How tough was it sitting at home considering how much momentum you had already built and what did you do to prepare for your return?
Roman Reigns: Yeah, man, being out, it was tough. It was a situation where I was happy to be home and be with my family but to have momentum and to be wrestling every night and progressing and climbing that ladder and then all of a sudden, the rug is pulled out. That was really tough to deal with.
The rehab itself was extremely difficult mentally because I couldn’t rehab. With a hernia, the main thing is let that incision heal up and strengthen as much as possible which usually takes six to eight weeks and it was closer to eight for me before I could lift any type of weights. To not be able to rehab or go to the weight room and out train it was the toughest part mentally for me.
Even the best get nervous
CraveOnline: When you returned at TLC in December, heading through the crowd, were you a little nervous or were you amped up?
Roman Reigns: The nerves happen for me about two hours or an hour before I’m actually going out. That’s when you’re running through everything in your head, thinking about the moment, that it’s finally come back or its finally came for the first time but once I go through that curtain, once I’m in front of everybody, you could probably shoot me and I wouldn’t feel it. There’s so much adrenaline going on. I can’t tell you how crazy you feel. You’re pumped as can be.
Dean – “He’s my boy”
CraveOnline: You recently teamed up with your boy, Dean Ambrose on SmackDown. How good did it feel to have him back in your corner?
Roman Reigns: It feels good. That was the toughest part of The Shield break-up. Not necessarily wrestling together but just traveling and hanging out together and having that time. Then I got hurt and that took me off the road awhile so it was cool to be able to tangle up. It was a cool moment to be in the ring with Dean. He’s my boy.
CraveOnline: Roman, you came up through FCW and NXT, what is the developmental process in and out of the ring?
Roman Reigns: Its tough, man, and I played college ball. It’s tough mentally. It’s extremely tough physically. When I had my tryout, just from two days being in the ring, learning to bump, hit the ropes, and things like that, I came home and my back was just one huge bruise. Literally from my chest down to my ass, it was just a huge bruise. You obviously have to go through a time where you get used to it physically.
Mentally it’s tough because you’re going through this whole process of figuring out, you know, most people know who they are on a personal aspect. But when you’re public speaking, and you have a public persona, and a character, it’s a whole process to figure out especially when you have people critiquing you and people telling you what they think of you, and what you should be doing and what they think you should be doing, so it’s a process of finding yourself and finding a good team of people to help you. It’s crazy, man. It’s a total grind. It’s something I’m glad I’m done with.
CraveOnline: If you could Superman punch one person, who would it be?
Roman Reigns: Whoever has the WWE World Heavyweight Championship come WrestleMania.
CraveOnline: WWE has released many films, have there been any discussions of you starring in one of their films?
Roman Reigns: I haven’t talked to anybody about it. I don’t know enough to see if I’ve been in discussion. I’ve loved to be a part of anything, having an opportunity to entertain, to be a part of a film, or just continue to do what I’m doing, I’m so happy so just making town after town, doing my thing, but if I have that opportunity to star in a film or be an extra, I don’t care, its all a learning experience for me. If that comes up, I would definitely jump on the opportunity.
The Roman Empire era begins… ?
CraveOnline: Is 2015 going to be the year of The Roman Empire?
Roman Reigns: I think so. Tomorrow is not guaranteed so I don’t see why we can’t do it this year. I thought it was already happening in 2014 but my intestines blew out of my stomach [laughs] so we’re back on track now, everything feels good, and I think the army is growing.
Royal Rumble airs on Sunday January 25th at 8pm ET on the WWE Network
Photos courtesy of WWE
Joshua Caudill is a writer for CraveOnline Sports, a surfing enthusiast, an unhealthy sports fanatic, and an expert on all things Patrick Swayze. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshuaCaudill85 or “like”CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.