“The good news is, I’m in remission, y’all. So with that being said, the Big Dog is back!”
And with thunderous applause and “Welcome Back!” chants, WWE star and Tampa-area resident Roman Reigns announced on “Monday Night Raw” that his leukemia is in remission and he will soon be returning to in-ring competition.
In October, Reigns stunned WWE fans with his somber announcement that he had been living with leukemia for 11 years and that it had returned, prompting him to relinquish his WWE Universal Championship and step away to undergo treatment.
On Monday, Reigns, 33, whose real name is Joe Anoa’i, made his anticipated return. He greeted fans at ringside and gave long hugs to family members -- including his mother, Patricia A. Anoa’i -- before stepping into the ring to wild cheers.
“I missed y’all,” Reigns said. “There is no other job like this. There is no fan base like you guys."
He went on to tell the crowd in Atlanta that he was a “man of faith” and always believed God has “favored me and looked out for me” while acknowledging fear over going public with his diagnosis.
“I was terrified, y’all," Reigns said. "I was scared. I was insecure and I didn’t really know if I wanted to share that secret with the world.”
He did, and he credited the “overwhelming support” he received from the WWE fan base and across the world for helping him in his recovery.
“It gave me strength, it gave me new life, it gave me a new opportunity and it gave me a new purpose,” Reigns said.
That purpose, Reigns said is “to use this platform, this giant WWE platform that is global” to raise awareness and "support those who are in need just like I was.”
With that came the announcement that he was returning.
And as it turned out, that return came sooner than most would have expected in a potential Shield reunion. He joined Seth Rollins in helping Dean Ambrose following an ambush after a match with opponent Drew McIntyre, even delivering his signature spear.
It is not certain when Reigns will be returning to in-ring competition, but with WrestleMania 35 coming up on April 7, the timing of Reigns’ announcement would certainly indicate he will be part of the biggest card of the year.