Monday’s “Raw” opened with an emotional moment that members of the WWE Universe — and the WWE locker rooms — were not ready for. Universal Champion Roman Reigns (real name Joe Anoa’i) surrendered his title after revealing an 11-year battle with leukemia.
Immediately, past and present members of the “Raw” and “SmackDown Live” locker rooms poured out their feelings and support on Twitter. Below is a mere sampling.
The one from tag-team The Usos, Reigns’ real-life cousins, will bring (more) tears to your eyes.
‘Courage – strength in the face of pain or grief.’ You have given us your everything including a courageously vulnerable moment. We, your WWE family, give you all of our love and support. #ThankYouRoman #NeverGiveUp
— John Cena (@JohnCena) October 23, 2018
I’m just learning now of @WWERomanReigns leukemia diagnosis. Stunned. I liked and respected him from the moment I met him. Sending my very best wishes and prayers for you, Joe.
— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) October 23, 2018
You’re in our thoughts & prayers Joe. You are our Superman! Forever and always! You have an army people standing behind you ready to support and fight with you!????N
— Nikki & Brie (@BellaTwins) October 23, 2018
His real name is Joe & he’s a stand up guy! Inside the ring one of the best I’ve battled with. Outside the ring one of the most genuine people I have ever met & learned from. See you soon good brother #ThankYouRoman ( ..and he smells great)
— Finn Bálor forEVERYone (@FinnBalor) October 23, 2018
Friend, you have my prayers and your family is your greatest support!! This will pass and you will come back stronger than before. Your health is what matters!! Take care of you!???????? pic.twitter.com/dcbp7fSusc
— Vickie Guerrero (@VickieGuerrero) October 23, 2018
— Renee Young (@ReneeYoungWWE) October 23, 2018
My thoughts & prayers go out to @WWERomanReigns & his family. Breaks my heart but praying & believing for a speedy & full recovery.
— CJ (Lana) Perry (@LanaWWE) October 23, 2018
Love ya Uce????
— Fandango (@WWEFandango) October 23, 2018
— PAIGE (@RealPaigeWWE) October 23, 2018
Amazing to see how much he has accomplished. Defeating leukemia AGAIN is just gonna be another bullet point on his resume. #ThankYou
— Dean Muhtadi (@MojoRawleyWWE) October 23, 2018
Love you @wweromanreigns You taught me so much about what it means to be a superstar here. Can’t wait to see you back ❤️
— $asha Banks (@SashaBanksWWE) October 23, 2018
.@WWERomanReigns you are the definition of what it means to be a leader and a champion and one of the toughest lads on the planet. We are all behind you and sending love. You will beat this. #ThankYouRoman
— Rebecca Quin (@BeckyLynchWWE) October 23, 2018
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Roman and his entire family. @WWERomanReigns you aren’t a Superstar falling but a Superhero that will continue to inspire those fighting illness alongside you.
— MariaKanellisBennett (@MariaLKanellis) October 23, 2018
Roman Reigns exemplifies everything I believe a true leader should be.
Proud to have shared a locker room with him, and I’ll be proud to share it with him again after he wins this battle.#ThankYouRoman
— Chad Gable (@WWEGable) October 23, 2018
Fight on to victory my courageous brother! pic.twitter.com/wuYAoxa48p
— Bret Hart (@BretHart) October 23, 2018
You’re our Universal Champion. We are with you every step of the way brother.
— Tye Dillinger ???? (@WWEDillinger) October 23, 2018
Sending my thoughts and prayers your way @WWERomanReigns … Thank you and stay strong! ????????????????
— Mandy (@WWE_MandyRose) October 23, 2018
About to board my flight to Newark and hearing news about my #GoodBrother and one of the hardest working, strongest brothers I know @WWERomanReigns , got a pit in my stomach.
My family throwing so many prayers at you..
Love you bro.
— Karl Anderson (@KarlAndersonWWE) October 23, 2018
— MELLA I$ MONEY (@CarmellaWWE) October 23, 2018
— Mustafa Ali / Adeel Alam (@MustafaAliWWE) October 23, 2018
Roman is one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the privilege to share a locker room with. We all knew he was the locker room leader and we all aspired to be like him. Come back stronger than ever my friend #ThankYouRoman @WWERomanReigns
— Mike Kanellis (@RealMikeBennett) October 23, 2018
He’s our locker room leader.
He IS the business.
He’ll be back.
You got this, champ. #ThankYouRoman
— Singh Brothers (@SinghBrosWWE) October 23, 2018
— WWE Buddy Murphy (@WWE_Murphy) October 23, 2018
Just saw the @WWERomanReigns news. Absolutely heartbreaking. Roman is one of nicest guys I have ever met in this business and was a pleasure every time I had the pleasure to work with him. My best wishes to him!
— John Layfield (@JCLayfield) October 23, 2018
— Billie Kay (@BillieKayWWE) October 23, 2018
We luv you man. You got this!
— Zelina Vega (@Zelina_VegaWWE) October 23, 2018
— The Usos (@WWEUsos) October 23, 2018
@WWERomanReigns My Family And I Are Thinking Of You And Are Keeping You In Our Prayers! We Are Here For You! ????????????????????????
— Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) October 23, 2018
— Lexi Kaufman (@AlexaBliss_WWE) October 23, 2018
— Dean Muhtadi (@MojoRawleyWWE) October 23, 2018
♥️ THANKYOU, @WWERomanReigns. Praying for you and your family.
— Nattie (@NatbyNature) October 23, 2018
— Booker T. Huffman (@BookerT5x) October 23, 2018
— Aiden English (@WWEDramaKing) October 23, 2018
Thank you Roman ???? my love and prayers go out to you and your family ???? we are with you!
— Daria Berenato (@SonyaDevilleWWE) October 23, 2018
There were more tweets where those came from — we just can’t fit all of the love sent to Reigns in one post.
“For months now, maybe even a full year, I’ve come out here and spoke as Roman Reigns and I said a lot of things. I said that I’d be here every single week. I said I’d be a fighting champion, I said that I’d be consistent and I said that I’d be a workhorse but…that’s all lies,” Reigns said in the middle of the ring last night. “That’s a lie because the reality is…my real name is Joe…and I’ve been living with leukemia for 11 years. And unfortunately, it’s back.”
Reigns went on to discuss how he was first diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 22, when he had no money and after he had ended his brief pro football career.
“But you want to know who gave me a chance? The team that gave me a chance was WWE,” he said. “And when I finally made it to the main roster and I was on the road they put me in front of all of you…and to be honest, you have all made my dreams come true.”
“By no means is this a retirement speech,” Reigns promised. “I will beat this, I will be back, and you will see me very, very soon.”
Readers can watch the somber segment here.
WWE released the following statement to media last night:
Tonight on ‘Monday Night Raw,’ Roman Reigns (aka Joe Anoa’i) announced that he is relinquishing the WWE Universal Championship and taking a leave of absence from WWE as he once again fights leukemia, which had been in remission since late 2008. Reigns is taking his battle with leukemia public in an effort to raise awareness and funds for research in order to advance cures for the disease.
Reigns was scheduled to defend his Universal Championship against Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar at upcoming pay-per-view event “Crown Jewel,” which is scheduled for Nov. 2.
Get well soon, Big Dog.