“Monday Night RAW” opened as any other show would, with professional wrestler Roman Reigns walking to the ring. However, the show immediately took a dramatic turn, as he revealed that he had been battling leukemia for 11 years, that it had returned, and that he would be forced to take a leave of absence from WWE.
Reigns took the mic and explained that while he had been Roman Reigns in the ring, his real name is Joe Anoa'i and he had been lying to the fans about something. He went on to explain that he was diagnosed in 2008 with leukemia, which quickly went into remission. Recently it returned.
In a passionate, emotional speech, he detailed what his life has been like, both in football and wrestling, and personally.
Reigns emphasized that though he has to go home to focus on his family and health, he isn't retiring. “I will beat this,” he said. “I will be back, and you will see me very, very soon.”
Shortly after, WWE put out the following news release:
“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.”