IN many circles, the WWE and all its sports-entertainment theatrics isn’t taken too seriously.
But there’s no doubt a loyal worldwide following will happily argue otherwise.
When I go to interview WWE superstar Roman Reigns at his hotel in Melbourne, there's a small group of fans huddled near the door waiting for a glimpse or autograph from one of the touring performers.
When I meet the hulking Reigns (who stands at 191cm and weighs in a trim-looking 120kg) his hand is so much bigger than mine and I can’t help but think it would completely envelope my face.
But it is clear that his in-ring persona is just that, a persona, and he wants to get to the ring and start the show.
“The crowds are always great and the energy is unbelievable,” he says. “We are only in Melbourne once a year, so to have that 12-month build up, you can’t substitute that.”
Reigns has been at the top of the WWE for about two years, a relatively short time compared to performers like HHH, Kane or Chris Jericho. He says at heart he is still just a fan.
“Guys like the Undertaker and Kane have been through the whole world and have so much experience,” he says.
“There are times where find myself being a fan, knowing that I’m in the ring with guys who have been through the thick of it is always an awesome situation.
“Growing up I always loved watching Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart. I loved everything he stood for about working hard every day. He was the best.”
The next time I see Reigns is at the top of the stands in Rod Laver arena. It is a far cry from the smaller crowds of NXT where Reigns earned his stripes.
“NXT is growing. It’s a more intimate crowd but in front of a big crowd, when you hear the roars and emotion building, it’s unbelievable,” he says. “It’s something that every guy in NXT needs to want. To hear that ovation.”
Reigns’ customary entrances is always through the crowds and he doesn’t disappoint in Australia as he makes his way down through the swarms of families who have come to see him.
“Every night I get goosebumps,” Reigns says. “It happens every night whether it’s in front of 80,000 people or 1500.”
He takes on veteran performer Kane (with WWE hall of famer Ric Flair as the special referee) and scores a win much to the pleasure of his fans.
He thanks the crowd at the end of the night and assures us the WWE will return next year. The crowd goes wild and starts saving for their next WWE ticket.