WWE universal champion Roman Reigns appeared this week on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina and responded to the Undertaker's recent claim that today's superstars are "a little soft."
"I think the product is a little soft,” the Undertaker (aka Mark Callaway) said on the Joe Rogan Podcast. “There are obviously guys here and there that have an edge to them, but there’s too much pretty [and] not enough substance I think right now.”
“In that era of guys, too, those were men,” he continued. “You go into a dressing room nowadays, and it’s a lot different.
“I remember walking into my first real dressing room, and all I saw were some crusty f------ men. Half of them had guns and knives in their bags. S--- got handled back then. Now you walk in, there’s guys playing video games and f------ making sure they look pretty. It’s evolution, guess. I don’t know what it is, but I just like those eras, man. I liked when men were men.”
Earlier this week on After The Bell With Corey Graves, Bill Goldberg backed up the Undertaker's stance. When asked on the SI Media Podcast what he thought about the older wrestlers' trash talk, Reigns didn't hold back.
"We do the same job," said Reigns. "It's not like the bumps got any worse or any better."
Reigns continued, "You're always hearing 'a drop kick was a finish back in my time.' A dropkick is like the second move you see in a wrestling match nowadays. We're doing a lot more. And sometimes I think we're a lot more physical. And because the audience has seen so much more, we have to do a little more in order to peak their interest, in order to show them something different. What we call a false finish, a pin that people believe will be the final move of a match, we go through those like Steamboat-Savage. You'll see that on a SmackDown. You'll see 15 false finishes on a SmackDown.
It's strange. I really feel like he misspoke. Because Mark is a really good guy. He's very knowledgable. Obviously, he has a ton of respect for the business. Goldberg is just Goldberg. Who cares? But he's talking about guns and knives in the locker room. Come on. You guys travel just like we did. Did you really get that stuff through security? TSA was just letting everything happen back then?
I choose to play video games sometimes on my own time. I don't do it at work. As you can see, some of my character is based around it. I've always been one that networked and politicked and tried to communicate and work while I'm at work. Some guys choose to stay in the locker room. And for guys like the New Day who are überly talented, they can get away with that. I hope the younger guys in the locker room don't fall into that because we're not all the same. I have to put my whole mind into work as I come to work on a Friday. Sometimes my wife has to tell me to shut it off. She'll be like, 'Stop, be at home, be present.' Because I can't turn it off sometimes and I think to be at the highest level of anything, you have to be borderline obsessive. So, yeah, I don't always think there's room for video games in the locker room, but when we're running our regular touring system and it's a live event and there's nowhere to go, you got kicked out of the hotel because you couldn't get the late check out, you already hit the gym, you already picked up your food and you're sitting in the locker room, I'd rather my guys be playing video games than breaking into a bag of some sort.
It's a different time and I think we're smarter. I think you're gonna see that from the financial side of it, from how we save our money, how we prepare for the future, having a life after the business when we can't fall down anymore to our actual health."
Reigns ended his response to the Undertaker by saying, "I think it was just like a retired guy trying to sound gangster."
The man nicknamed the Tribal Chief also didn't hold back when he was asked whether he ever wishes he could've been around during the Attitude Era, when the WWE wasn't a family-friendly TV product.
"To be honest, and this is gonna make some good headlines, but it would've been too easy," said Reigns. "I feel like [John] Cena said it before. It's a challenge to be PG. It's a challenge to not have to go the cheap route. Being able to shove everything up everyone's ass, to do that stuff, to just chug beers—and I'm not taking anything way from the performance and the physicality of what they did and the stories they told in the ring—these guys were great performers and great in-ring wrestlers. But the character development was easier. If I could just start chugging bourbon and smoking cigars, imagine what my character could be. We could go even further on this mob boss thing.
It's more challenging what we do now. It's the facts. That's why the business is bigger. That's why we have a bigger platform now. And that was all due to the work done before us to get us to this point, but at the same time if we don't do it the way we do it now, it wouldn't be that way. It was a different time."
In addition to these topics, Reigns also discussed this Sunday's Royal Rumble, the possibility of facing the Rock at WrestleMania, whether he has any concerns about performing in front of a live audience, what it's like to have two sets of twins, what he has in common with Tom Brady and much more.