Life moves quickly for Roman Reigns, even more quickly than for the typical WWE superstar. Of course Reigns is anything but typical. The lights shine a little more brightly on the former big-time college and pro football player with the wrestling pedigree. And his star is rising quickly.
Reigns is climbing the ranks of the WWE, and has in his sites set on the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. He’ll have to go through Brock Lesnar, who took it at this past weekend’s SummerSlam, not to mention loser John Cena, Daniel Bryan and a host of other hungry challengers. Reigns just dispensed with Randy Orton to take another step closer. Can he continue the march to glory? Will he take a detour through Hollywood?
Here are eight things you didn’t know about Roman Reigns.
1. Roman Reigns was born Leati Joseph Anoa’i into the legendary Samoan American wrestling family of the same last name. His dad is Sika of the Wild Samoans tag team (with Afa), which collected NWA and WWF championships throughout the 1970s and 80s. His cousin is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, son of wrestler Rocky Johnson. Current WWE tag team champions, The Usos, consisting of twin brothers Jimmy and Jey Uso, are also family.
2. Anoa’i played defensive line for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. He was a team captain and named first-team all-ACC in 2006, his senior year.
3. The NFL’s Minnesota Vikings signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2007 but released him. The Jacksonville Jaguars signed him soon after as a backup. Anoa’i spent the 2008 season in the CFL, playing for the Edmonton Eskimos.
4. In 2010, Anoa’i got his start in the squared circle as Roman Leakee with Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW). He unsuccessfully challenged for the heavyweight championship, but paired with Mike Dalton to win the tag team title. When FCW became WWE NXT, Leakee changed his last name to Reigns.
5. Reigns fronted the wrestling vigilante group known as The Shield, fighting injustice in the wrestling world as they saw it. The other members were Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. The trio won numerous six-man tag team matches and served as hired guns in various feuds until disbanding earlier this year.
6. Reigns and Rollins took down Team Hell No to win the tag team championship in May of 2013. The pair held the belts for five months, successfully defending their title against The Usos, The Prime Time Players and other challengers. The team of Cody Rhodes and Goldust eventually got the better of them.
7. Reigns’ finishing move is the Spear, which is basically a shoulder tackle applied to an upright opponent’s midsection. Upon contact, he lifts their legs and drives them into the mat. Football fans will notice the similarity to a textbook football tackle.
8. Like his super-celebrity cousin, Reigns has the looks and personality for a career in Hollywood. And he is open to the idea, as he recently discussed with Chuck Carroll on Turnbuckle Weekly. “If that opportunity comes up… I’m willing to try anything and gain a little experience in anything,” said Reigns. But his goal right now, as he made clear, is the WWE World Heavyweight title.
Norm Elrod likes sports and other sanctioned forms of craziness.