On Sunday, April 8th in New Orleans, WWE star Roman Reigns will appear in his fourth straight WrestleMania, when he faces Brock Lesner.
“You experience the main event at WrestleMania and it's the craziest, most emotional night of your life, outside of birth of your children, but you can't enjoy it, because you're on a jet every day to promote it and the next show. I haven't had a chance to really enjoy it. One day I hope I get the chance to sit back and enjoy it,” says Reigns.
As a former football player at Georgia Tech, Roman did give the NFL a try, but eventually followed in his father’s footsteps to professional wrestling.
‘I've seen it firsthand. Not only with my father and uncle, but my brother and multiple cousins. Especially my cousin Junior, who wrestled under the name Rikishi. His sons are tag team champions, we lived right near there, I would go over there, and we spent so much time together growing up and I pretty much lived at their house,” as Reigns reflects on his family history in the sport and his influences.
In the WWE, you can perform in over 200 shows a year. The physicality demands only the most elite of athletes. And while the matches are undoubtedly choreographed, they still require, skill, practice and training.
Reigns explains what it is like for him show to show, saying “The audience changes every night. So your preparation, it's not just an exact science. Like in football, you can play 3 technique as a D-lineman only a few different ways. This is art. You have to be intelligent, you have to register what's happening, you have to know what's next. You want it to be a roller coaster ride for the fans, you want it to escalate as it goes on … you want it to get better and better and then the crowd gets louder and louder.”
While Roman has the physical gifts, and the training is a natural progression from football, he did have to work on his mic skills. He explains his latest technique of communication that is working when he says, “the easiest example is if they start chanting. All you have to do is look. And it gets stronger. There’s a fine line between pandering and a little interaction, throwing gas on the fire. But we're all still conveying this story of athletic competition, and if you don’t do that, you're missing out on a possible bigger reaction.”