Photo credit: WWE.com.
“Sources with knowledge of the situation tell us Reigns expressed to WWE that he didn’t feel comfortable doing anymore of the Performance Center shows during the coronavirus pandemic because he’s immunocompromised from his battle with leukemia and didn’t want to risk his health,” Satin wrote.
“We’re told WWE honored his request and he will now be replaced by someone else in the match against Goldberg, though it’s unclear who at this time.”
Reigns, who played college football at Georgia Tech and attempted an NFL career, was diagnosed with leukemia following a physical with the Minnesota Vikings in 2007, per Maya A. Jones of The Undefeated.
He went into remission two years later, but Reigns announced on Oct. 22, 2018, on Monday Night Raw, that his leukemia returned.
Four months later, Reigns came back to the ring and said his leukemia was in remission.
Reigns is at higher risk for COVID-19 as a former cancer patient. The Mayo Clinic offered more guidance on the matter:
“Because cancer treatments weaken the body’s immune system, cancer patients are among those at risk of serious illness from COVID-19,” the Mayo Clinic wrote.
The match was to be held in front of no fans at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The background leading to the match was as follows.
Goldberg shockingly beat “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt for the title at Super ShowDown in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 27, and when he sought to find out who his next opponent would be the following night on SmackDown, The Big Dog immediately answered the challenge.
Reigns returned to action just over one year ago after missing four months to seek treatment for leukemia. With his cancer in remission, he has returned to his workhorse role.
While he has largely stayed out of the title picture for the past year, he had notable feuds with the likes of Drew McIntyre, Shane McMahon, Erick Rowan and King Corbin.
The Big Dog’s long-running rivalry with The Lone Wolf ended after he scored a win in a Falls Count Anywhere match at Royal Rumble in January and then prevailed in a steel cage match at Super ShowDown.
With no more obstacles in Reigns’ path, he was free to finally pursue the title he had to relinquish in October 2018 after being diagnosed with leukemia.
A vocal portion of the fanbase was seemingly against Goldberg beating The Fiend for the Universal Championship at Super ShowDown, but that may have been by design in hopes of getting the fans to back The Big Dog.
Additionally, Reigns vs. Goldberg has often been discussed as a dream match over the years due to the many parallels between them.
They were both standout collegiate football players in the same state, with Reigns playing at Georgia Tech and Goldberg at the University of Georgia before going on to play professionally in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons.
Reigns and Goldberg are also both intense individuals in the ring and fittingly utilize the Spear as a signature move, which was among the biggest angles entering their match.
There weren’t high expectations for the match in terms of it being a technical masterpiece, but both men are impactful performers who don’t need much time in order to leave a lasting impression.
However, that match will no longer occur as Reigns understandably prioritizes his health.