WWE and Roman Reigns are lying about The Big Dog having cancer.
That’s pretty much how a section of social media responded before the announcement that Roman Reigns was coming back to WWE in the run-up to WrestleMania.
“There’s no other fanbase like you guys,” Reigns said on his return to WWE RAW, announcing to the WWE Universe that he was in remission. He was terrified, insecure and “didn’t really know if (I) wanted to share that secret with the world” and who can blame him? He didn’t know how fans would react and, whilst there was a huge amount of support, there’s been a recent flurry of vocal distractors calling into question the “truth.”
With near conspiracy theory levels of engagement, people had ideas and expressed those ideas online, taking tenuous evidence (he’s got hair, he was filming a movie, he’s not emaciated, he doesn’t look like a cancer sufferer) as proof of their version of the truth. Many cited it as a grab for publicity, especially in the wake of AEW, and a ploy for a push in ratings.
There’s certainly a groundswell of dislike towards Roman Reigns amongst a niche of wrestling fans, though in these modern times it’s more likely to be aimed towards the character of Roman Reigns and the way WWE use him as opposed to the man himself; after all, the “smarter fans” must be able to separate the art from the artist.
The problem with any “fake cancer” story, especially one so heavily covered in legitimate media, is that there would have irreparable damage done to the WWE’s reputation had they genuinely been lying. It would effectively destroy any goodwill amongst the public, especially in their other charitable concerns. It would have soured their relationship with the TV networks that show RAW and SmackDown Live and with the all-important sponsors that have a great influence over what WWE can and can’t do on television.
Suddenly, there was an influx of cancer specialists who happen to be wrestling fans. All of whom were vocal in their belief in their knowledge, without actually realising that not everyone is affected in the same way, not all cancer needs chemotherapy and that, importantly, cancer is complex.
Even Leukaemia Care, the UK charity and support group, weighed in on the online commentary – “We do not KNOW what type of leukaemia he has. Therefore, NONE of us are in a position to question his treatment, how he should look, etc.” That statement, in itself, must have come as something of a surprise to those making judgement online.
Morning! In response to some of the tweets we're seeing online about @WWE and @WWERomanReigns we wanted to have a little chat about leukaemia/leukemia, relapse and perceptions of cancer. #WWE @davemeltzerWON https://t.co/iIXgrBKKz3.A.THREAD! pic.twitter.com/thhKt17gTZ
— Leukaemia Care (@LeukaemiaCareUK) February 26, 2019
Anyone who has known anyone who has cancer knows how brave they are, how it completely alters their lives and how much they have to go through every day. Being clear of cancer is a huge weight off their shoulders, but the fear of relapse will always play in the back of their minds, and their inner strength and the closeness of their support group is what drives them forward.
“He must be lying because I feel he is” is churlish at best and a poor mindset to take with any victim when we don’t really know that person. To accuse anyone who has cancer of lying, without sound evidence to back it up, is a horrific thing to do. Would they shout “fake” if their nearest and dearest were to announce that they’ve got cancer?
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