Roman Reigns was a recent guest on Talk is Jericho, and talked extensively with Y2J about perhaps his most famous match--the WWE Championship bout with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31.
According to Roman, Lesnar and his advocate Paul Heyman initially pitched a different kind of match altogether. They wanted it to be a squash. Eventually it was decided that the match would start out that way, but turn into a real slobber-knocker as Good ol' JR used to say.
“No, it wasn’t easy, by any means. But the thing I had a lot of confidence in is I knew it was just going to be a fight," Reigns said. "I knew it was going to be brutal and I like that s–t. Like, hey, if you want to bang, I’m all for it. I’m never scared. But it was just weird. It really was. It was last minute. It was one of those deals where it wasn’t a lot of talking, didn’t seem open to ideas because, essentially, in their minds, and when I say ‘their minds’ I say Brock and Paul, which, that is a powerful pairing right there, but those two, they’re something else. They wanted to kill me. They were convinced however many people were there eighty [thousand], whatever, they wanted to see me get crushed. They were there and they just want to see Roman get his ass beat. And I can’t disagree with them, but brother [has] got to fight. Hey, you can kick my ass all you want, but I’m going to fight.”
The match was laid out in a way that allowed Brock to look like a monster while showing Reigns as almost indestructible. “I knew he wanted to get straight to the [Suplex] City, and I was like, ‘f–k it. Here we go!’ And nobody does this, like, it was ‘ding, ding, ding’ and I went right into him.” Reigns said, “for me, it was just about taking that ass-whooping and I’m thankful to Brock because he [has] got a name. Brock is legit, ‘I’ll break your face and I’m not scared to go in there and have someone break mine’. I’ve seen him crush people. I’ve seen him get his ass whooped too, by who was it? [Cain] Velasquez or whatever. But just to have the balls to go out there and like do that, you’ve got to be a man and I respect him, I respect his name, and the fact that he went out there and he built it.”
Looking back on it now, Reigns isn't ashamed to admit that he gets a sense of pride out of how that turned out. “I’m proud of that match. I don’t know if it was like… I don’t know if it’s my favorite of all of them, but, like, I think it might be my best one. Like, story-wise and just the moment, and the crowd switched and with Seth [Rollins] coming [to cash in the Money In The Bank briefcase], it had a little bit of everything. It was just really good. It was really good business.”
Maybe Reigns' favorite part of the Mania 31 experience was the praise he received from "The Best There Is, The Best There Was And The Best There Ever Will Be."
“The coolest part of that match was, I got to the after party and I walk in, me and my wife, and the first person I randomly see is Bret, Bret Hart. He just shook my hand and he goes, ‘instant classic’. He was like, ‘there will never be another one like it.'”
You can listen to the entire podcast at this link.