During his appearance on Rick Rubin’s Tetragrammaton podcast, Paul Heyman opened up about Roman Reigns’ hiatus from WWE during the spring of 2020. Heyman discussed how Reigns’ decision was influenced by both the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic and his dissatisfaction with the creative direction of his character.
According to Heyman, Reigns felt that the ongoing feud with Baron Corbin, including storylines involving dog food and the infamous “sufferin succotash” promo, had taken a toll on him. Heyman recounted Reigns expressing that he had reached his creative peak as “the big dog” character, but believed he had much more to offer as a performer and athlete.
In August, Heyman received a call from Vince McMahon, informing him that they were planning to bring him back to television. Heyman initially speculated that he might be assigned a commentator role, but McMahon had something different in mind. McMahon proposed the idea of pairing Heyman with Roman Reigns, which caught Heyman off guard.
Heyman admitted that he was surprised by the suggestion, as McMahon had never allowed someone like John Cena to align with him in such a manner. Recognizing the potential of this pairing, Heyman saw an opportunity to redefine his role and bring a fresh perspective to the table.
“He’s not exposing himself to this pandemic that we don’t have a grasp on how severe it can be quite just yet and at the same time, he’s had enough of the creative. These things are running concurrently. The feud rivalry story with Baron Corbin over dog food and the infamous sufferin succotash promo had weighed on him enough to where he said, ‘I’ve had enough. I’ve reached the cap. I can’t go any further. As the big dog I’ve peaked. and as an athlete, I haven’t peaked as a performer. I’ve barely scratched the surface. I have so much more to offer and since I’m taking time off, I’m not coming back as the same person.’”
“So Vince [McMahon] calls me in the middle of August and he says, ‘We’re gonna take you back into television. I’m thinking, ‘Oh, oh. He’s gonna make me a commentator and Jim Ross isn’t here. What is a commentator in 2020? How can I be disruptive? How can I be evolutionary in the process? How can I redefine this role because I don’t just want to settle in and do what’s been done already. Even by me, I want to do this differently. I said, ‘Okay, well, what do you got in mind?’ He says, ‘I’m going to put you with somebody.’I’m thinking, ‘Has he read my contract?’ I said, ‘Well, you know Vince, the options are kind of limited in that.’ I’m trying to tiptoe into a delicate situation here where I’m about to butt heads with him. I’m thinking Ronda is pregnant. Brock [Lesnar]’s not coming back with Saudi down. He’s certainly is not putting me with Roman and he goes, ‘I’m envisioning Roman Reigns with Paul Heyman.’ I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God. He’s gonna pull the trigger on this. He would never pull it with Cena. He would never have allowed [John] Cena to come to the dark side.”
Fans can listen to the full interview on Rick Rubin’s Tetragrammaton podcast to gain further insights into Paul Heyman’s thoughts on Roman Reigns’ hiatus and the creative process behind their partnership.