Roman Reigns victory over the Undertaker at WrestleMania 32 was one of the most talked about moments of the year. Speaking on a recent media call via the Inside The Ropes podcast, Reigns shared his memories of the match and discussed what competing against The Phenom meant to him.
"It was a great honor," Reigns admitted. "We have a whole new generation here. We have a young generation of talent coming up and it's going to get to a point one day where there's only a handful of us that can say yeah, I've been in the ring with John Cena, I've been in the ring with Randy Orton, I've been in the ring with the Undertaker, with Shawn Michaels, with Kurt Angle, with Triple H. There's a lot of young guys who are never going to have that experience and are never going to have that opportunity to learn from being out there with guys like that."
Reigns, who controversially altered the Dead Man's WrestleMania streak to read 23-2, understands the responsibility he holds for not only claiming victory over the legend, but also in accepting a role as torchbearer for the future of the WWE.
"Being in the ring with the Undertaker, I was able to feel that respect for the business from him. I was able to feel that responsibility and also to see that weight lifted off of him. That was one thing that was really neat, but it was semi-concerning. The times that I've wrestled these legends, these guys who have plugged in all this time, you could see a sense of relief on their faces after the match. They could finally take a breath for once. And for me, I know that's quite the responsibility."
After the match, the Undertaker left his gear in the ring, leading fans to believe it was his final match. On the following night, Reigns had to shoulder the burden of being the one that may have retired the icon for good. Thankfully, The Big Dog is no stranger to vocal crowds.
"I like to feed off of whatever they give me. Each night I look at it like I'm dealt a new hand of cards and I'm going to play them the way I play them."
Reigns expands, stating that his character is unique in that he exists outside of the traditional heel and babyface labels.
"I don't say it much anymore but it still holds true: I'm not a good guy, I'm not a bad guy. I'm the guy," he says. "That's why I think I've progressed so fast and become a veteran in the ring, because I've heard all of these reactions, I've had to learn from them night in and night out. It's not just at WrestleMania or Summer Slam or at these big pay-per-views; it's in the smaller towns in front of 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 opposed to 101,000 people."
Regardless of whether audiences cheer or boo, Reigns says he aspires to one day share the admiration that fans have showered the Undertaker with for years.
"He's allowed himself the opportunity to take the ball and run with it, and garner all of that attention and all of that respect, and have people appreciate that. I just hope I can one day be on that level."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Inside The Ropes with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.