The start of 2022 is not going how WWE planned. Universal champion Roman Reigns announced that he would not be competing in the Day 1 pay-per-view event Saturday night after testing positive for COVID-19. Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp and Ariel Helwani were the first to report the news.
Reigns, who is known for his battles with leukemia, took to social media to address his absence. Reigns was supposed to defend his title against former UFC champion Brock Lesnar. He missed several months of action at the start of the pandemic before returning in August 2020. He is vaccinated.
“I yearn to perform tonight at #WWEDay1 to defend my Universal Championship. However, unfortunately, earlier today I tested positive for COVID-19. Due to the proper protocols I am unable to compete as originally scheduled. I look forward to returning to action as soon as possible,” Reigns wrote on Twitter.
WWE announced that Lesnar will now compete in the WWE championship fight. The match involves champion Big E defending the belt against Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Bobby Lashley. An interesting note: Lashley has competed for Bellator in the past and fans have been wondering when he and Lesnar would fight in a WWE ring.
The Reigns news comes after Fightful Select reported that WWE will no longer require its athletes to test for COVID-19. There was a COVID outbreak in the company last month, with Rollins among those testing positive. WWE returned to touring in 2021, with fans attending shows once again beginning in July.