About Us  |   Contact

WWE's Roman Reigns: AEW 'babied' by fans, CM Punk has 'lost a step'

Image: WWE

In a wide-ranging interview with Complex Sports, WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns said that he doesn't see real competition with AEW due to the differences in their fanbases.

Saying that WWE vs. AEW is very subjective with passion and tribalism, Reigns says he doesn't see AEW as competition as their fanbase is "a hardcore" one with both a ceiling and built-in floor while WWE is more about connecting with the mainstream, pulling in the casual fan.

He also said that AEW is being "babied" by those hardcore fans because they are new, adding that he thinks it's strange when the fans are the biggest character in your show:

"[sic] We’re trying to engage the new viewer while also servicing our hardcore fan base and give them compelling stories to fulfill them as well. I don’t know if I’ve said it before, but I’ve said it before: when the audience is probably the biggest character in your show, that’s strange to me. You’ll hear it all the time, the reviews and the comparisons. I think because they are the new kids on the block, they’re the cool kids in town I guess because of how premature and how novel it kind of still is, I think there still being babied by these hardcore wrestling fans. Which is fine. That’s great. I don’t think anybody’s going to ever, especially from a performance standpoint, say, ‘Oh no, there’s more opportunities out there? That sucks.’ So it’s not a bad thing. It’s a great thing for professional wrestling. It’s just a weird argument because there’s so much bias and there’s so much, ‘I’m on this side and I’m not gonna open my mind to the other side.’ And it goes both ways."

He later said that while others in WWE may feel they need to improve as a performer, no one is better than him and that criticism or praise about spots or counters doesn't mean anything to him.

He was asked about CM Punk and if he wishes he could work with him. He said if WWE fans really wanted to see it and couldn't stop clamoring for it, he wouldn't say no if the stars aligned. However, it wouldn't do anything personally for him and feels like the former WWE star has lost a step in the limited footage he has seen while also throwing a dig at the rest of the AEW roster:

"(A match with Punk is) not going to elevate me at all. He’s older now. I haven’t really seen a full match. I’ve seen a clip or two. And to me, a step or two has been lost. Then also he got his whooped in the UFC. I don’t think anybody really believes someone 200 pounds soaking wet with no explosive bone in their body could ever really do anything to me. I’m 6’3”, 265 pounds, a legitimate athlete who can throw some weight around and has been on the gridiron at the highest level. D1. All ACC. I probably would’ve maintained in the NFL if my health issues didn’t happen when I was 22 years old. So, I mean, when it comes down to it, I’ll throw him and pretty much the rest of that roster out the club no problem. They’re just little brothers, you know?"

Ahead of their match next week at Crown Jewel, Reigns also talked about Brock Lesnar and how he feels like the Paul Heyman-less version of Lesnar has helped him evolve:

"We got Brock the Butcher nowadays. You’ve seen a bit of evolution. We’re seeing him with different layers and presented in a different light. I think he’s more comfortable than he’s ever looked on screen, especially with him not having Paul [Heyman] in his corner to kind of lean on for the talking and the different responsibilities throughout the show outside of just suplexing people. I think he’s been able to display more of Brock Lesnar from a personality standpoint. Then for me, like you said man, I’m on a different level now. It was like building a house. I had to stack all these bricks in order to get up and then complete it."

Both Reigns and Lesnar will be on Friday's live SmackDown.