Paul Heyman Says Roman Reigns Functionally Retired From WWE Ahead Of WrestleMania 36

Paul Heyman has revealed that WWE Undisputed Universal Champion Roman Reigns decided not to return to WWE during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Wiseman of The Bloodline recently spoke to "Uproxx Sports" about Reigns seemingly calling time on his WWE career during the pandemic, as he wanted to safeguard his family and his health. "He considered himself retired. He wasn't coming back," said Heyman. 

He detailed how he was the executive director of "WWE Raw" at that time, and many backstage on "WWE SmackDown" were eager for Reigns to return, but "The Tribal Chief" had made up his mind about his WWE future.

"I was executive director of Monday Night Raw, and Roman was assigned to SmackDown. But every week I heard all the SmackDown writers and producers and personnel saying, 'God, I just wish Roman would come back.' And I would ask, has anybody talked to him? Yeah, he says he's retired. He's not coming back. No way. Thanks a lot. Done. Finished. Goodbye," said Heyman.

Reigns eventually returned to WWE at SummerSlam 2020, turning heel, and attacking Bray Wyatt, who had just won the WWE Universal Championship. After his return, Reigns aligned with Heyman — a partnership that has been ongoing for three and a half years. A week after his return, Reigns began his current reign as champion at the Payback show, defeating Wyatt and Braun Strowman. Heyman, in the interview, stated that Reigns' current run "is nothing short of a miracle" as everyone backstage was convinced that he wouldn't return.

Heyman had previously claimed that Reigns was frustrated with the creative direction of his character prior to the pandemic, while Reigns' past medical history also contributed to his decision to step away during the pandemic. Reigns also tested positive for COVID-19 in January 2022, which forced him to miss the Day 1 show, but he recovered from it quickly.