Incredibly sad news from the wild world of professional wrestling this morning, with current WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns revealing he’s been diagnosed with leukaemia.

Reigns opened today’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw by confirming the diagnosis; a return of an illness he was first diagnosed with some 11 years ago.

Reigns, real name Joe Anoa’i, relinquished his championship and announced he’d be taking extended time off to seek treatment for the disease as a stunned crowd at the Dunkin’ Donuts Centre in Providence, Rhode Island looked on.

33-year-old Reigns confirmed he had initially been diagnosed with the disease at the age of 22, but through treatment “very quickly I was able to put it in remission.”

Reigns stopped short of stating he was retiring, rather he’d be taking time off for a new round of treatment with a view to returning to the ring at some point in the not-too-distant future.

His speech on Raw concluded by laying down the Universal Title in the ring, before saluting the crowd alongside his Shield running buddies Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, both of whom were visibly distressed.

Reigns appeared in Australia just over two weeks ago, performing on WWE Super Show-Down at the MCG in front of over 70,000 people where he teamed with his Shield brothers to defeat the team of Brawn StrowmanDolph Ziggler, and Drew McIntyre.

He was scheduled to defend the Universal Championship on November 2nd in a Triple Threat match against both Strowman and Brock Lesnar. For obvious reasons that match seems likely to be either changed or cancelled altogether. The event, WWE Crown Jewel, set to take place in Saudi Arabia, has been mired in an ocean of controversy ever since it was announced.

Image: Getty Images / Gilbert Callasquillo