His name is Leati Joseph Anoa’i. Or “Joe” as he said tonight. We know him better as Roman Reigns. But do we know him, really? His history, his past? His battle with Leukemia? In light of this, I decided to change focus. Originally, I was going to make a post about Hulk Hogan, and his nWo days. But I decided instead for a debut, I wanted to touch on something else. On the Big Dog, a man that, through the boos, the jeers, the “Roman Sucks”, I have always been a fan. So let’s start with how he got to where he is now.
Roman was born Leati Joseph Anoa’i, and was born on May 25th, 1985 in Pensacola, Florida. But Roman wasn’t always about wrestling. He started actuall much like Brock Lesnar, in football. Roman was part of Georgia Tech’s team for a bit, before moving onto the NFL. However his time in the NFL was brief and only off-season in 2007 with the Minnesota Vikings, and the Jacksonville Jaguars. My personal opinion is he should have come to Green Bay, a real team, but that’s my personal opinion only! While he may have never played in the NFL, he did play for the Canadian Football League, but that was only for the 2008 season, before he quit that.
In 2010, Roman was signed to the then development territory of WWE called FCW, Florida Championship Wrestling, the pre-cursor to today’s NXT. During this time, the Big Dog was then called Roman Leakee (Lay Ah Key). He had some fights that can be found on YouTube against the likes of Ricardo Rodriguez, Adam Rose, and even against future shield brethren Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins in a triple threat match, where the winner would go on to fight Leo Kruger, the then champion of FCW. I found it rather strange that Roman was the only one not to bear his WWE name in this matchup. The match was announced by Byron Saxton and William Regal. Dean Ambrose was pre-dirty deeds at the time, and at the end, attempted a Midnight Special on Seth, but Roman picked up BOTH men in a Samoan drop, and hit his then finisher, a modified bulldog of sorts, to move on to face Leo Kruger. However the ending of this championship match ended with Leakee’s shoulders down, and the referee counting to three. Leakee didn’t realize it and put Kruger in a submission, making him pass out, but the match was already over. He would later go on with Mike Dalton and win the FCW Tag titles, however, though he dropped them to CJ Parker and Jason Jordon.
When FCW became NXT in August of 2012, Roman got the name we know him as today, Roman Reigns, and became a heel. His first match was basically a squash against CJ Parker, one half of the team he lost the FCW tag belts to, on Halloween of 2012, with a very different Roman than we know now in the ring. Much more primal, raw, then the refined WWE Roman Reigns. For two years Roman was in FCW/NXT, clawing his way to the top, and it was all about to pay off for Roman, in a huge way. While he debuted in NXT on October 31, two weeks later he defeated Chase Donovan, and wrestled his final NXT match on December 5th against Gavid Reids. However, on November 18th of that year, at Survivor Series, with Dean and Seth, the SHIELD made their debut in WWE. However, the iconic words were heard for the first time. “Sierra, Hotel, Indigo, Echo, Lima, Delta, SHIELD” at TLC of that year, not Survivor Series where it was just a run in.
Roman has three children, one of which was on the TV commercial for the post office, of him singing I’m a little teapot with his daughter. In 2016 his wife gave birth to two twin boys. Roman was also in NCAA Football 2005 as a playable character Joe Anoa. His video game debut for WWE would come in 2013 for WWE 2k14, and continue on 2k15 16 17 18 and now WWE2k19. Some awards Roman has won include:
Pro Wrestling Illustrated:
Most Hated Wrestler of the Year in 2016, Most Improved Wrestler 2015, Tag Team of the Year in 2013 with Seth Rollins, and ranked #1 in the PWI top 500 singles wrestlers also in 2015.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter:
Most Improved 2013
Tag Team of the Year 2013 with Seth again
Most overrated 2016.
Romans title Reigns (See what I did there?) Include:
WWE Intercontinental Championship (1)
WWE Tag Team Champion (1, with Seth)
WWE US Champion (1)
WWE Universal Champion (1)
WWE World Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
Roman was the 28th Grand Slam Champion, under it’s current brand split format, he is 17th overall
Royal Rumble winner 2015
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament winner (2015)
7 Slammy Awards including:
Breakout Star of the Year (2013 with S.H.I.E.L.D)
Extreme Moment of the Year (2015)
Faction of the Year
Superstar of the Year (2014)
Trending Now Hashtag of the Year (2013 #BelieveInTheShield)
“What a maneuver” of the year (2013, Spear)
Roman has also been in a few TV shows, which surprised me as I didn’t know this. He was in 2016’s Countdown with an uncredited cameo, and in 2017 he was in The Jetsons and WWE Robo Wrestlemania as himself in a voice over. In 2013 he had a one time appearance on Total Divas, as well as being on Conan, WWE24, Unfiltered with Renee Young, Good Morning America, and Good Morning Britain, as well as Up Up Down Down.
A random fact I found is that Roman considers Bret Heart his wrestling idol. A great Idol to have, one of the greatest in the business.
Currently Roman is on hiatus for an unspecified amount of time, and we do hope the Big Dog returns to the squared circle very soon. I, for one, want to hear “HOOOO-RAAAH!” soon. Get well Roman Reigns, if anyone can beat this, it’s you.