Leati Joseph ‘Joe’ Anoaʻi, better known by his ring name, Roman Reigns, is an American professional wrestler from the famous Anoaʻi wrestling family. He is well-known for his appearance on ‘WWE Raw’ or ‘Monday Night Raw,’ and is presently signed with ‘World Wresting Entertainment’ (WWE). Leati is also a former Canadian footballer; he started his career as a collegiate footballer and went on to play the ‘Canadian Football League’ (CFL) before retiring from the sport in 2008. He later trained as a wrestler like the rest of his family and signed a deal with ‘WWE’ in 2010. His first roster debut was alongside Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins as part of ‘The Shield’ and in 2014 he qualified to enter single competitions. He won the title of ‘WWE World Heavyweight Championship’ thrice and also won the ‘United States Championship.’ He became the face of ‘WWE’ in 2014 but was met with heavy criticism, and was controversially tagged as ‘the most overrated wrestler’ by ‘Wrestling Observer Newsletter.’ However, his accomplishments as an underdog have earned him a decent viewership and fan base. Roman Reigns has guest-starred in a few television shows. He has made cameo appearances in American action films ‘Countdown’ and ‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.’
Childhood & Early Life
Roman Reigns was born Leati Joseph Anoaʻi on 25 May 1985, in Pensacola, Florida, to Sika and Patricia A. Anoaʻi. His father, Leati ‘Sika’ Anoaʻi, was a former American Samoan professional wrestler.
He is the younger brother of Matthew Anoaʻi, who later became famous by his ring name ‘Rosey.’ Roman Reigns grew up in a family of wrestlers. Hence, sport was a huge part of his life, but unlike the rest of his family, he took keen interest in football. Roman Reigns attended ‘Pensacola Catholic High School’ and later went to ‘Escambia High School.’ He represented the school football team in both the schools.
He won several inter-school competitions and was titled ‘Defensive Player of the Year’ by ‘Pensacola News Journal.’ With education being his top priority, he graduated from high school to seek admission in ‘Georgia Institute of Technology.’
In college, he became a member of the ‘Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Football Team,’ and was the team captain in senior year. In 2007, he was signed by the ‘Minnesota Vikings.’ He became part of the ‘Edmonton Eskimos’ in the ‘Canadian Football League’ in 2008.
He retired from the sport in 2008, and turned towards his family profession and began training as a wrestler. His brother Rosey, who was an established wrestler by then, gave him valuable advice which would help Reigns to establish a career in wrestling.
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In 2010, he signed a developmental deal with ‘WWE’ and became a part of its ‘Developmental Territory Florida Championship Wrestling.’ He assumed the ring name ‘Roman Leakee’ and made his debut against Richie Steamboat, a match that he ended up losing.
He lost a couple more matches before winning a singles match against Fahd Rakma. That year he continued to compete at ‘FCW,’ participating in mostly tag team matches.
Before forming a tag team with Donny Marlow, he had entered a 30-man ‘Grand Royal’ competition but was eliminated from it. However, he later beat Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins in a triple threat match to become the number one contender for the ‘FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship.’ However, he couldn’t claim the title.
It wasn’t until he made his roster television debut on18th November 2012 alongside Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins that he became a popular figure. After the event, the trio declared themselves as ‘The Shield.’
For several six-man-tag-team matches ‘The Shield’ pulled of consecutive victories. Later at the ‘Extreme Rules,’ Roman Reigns and Rollins defeated ‘Team Hell No’ and were titled the winners of ‘WWE Tag Team Championship.’
Singles Wrestling Competition & Feuds
After ‘The Shield’ split in 2014, Roman was roped in as a singles wrestler in the ‘World Title Contention.’ On 16 June 2014, he won the ‘Battle Royal’ to occupy a spot in the ‘WWE World Heavyweight Championship’ ladder match. However, he lost the match and went on to start a feud with Randy Orton.
Rollins’ betrayal, which caused ‘The Shield’ to split, caused enmity in both Ambrose and Reigns. While Ambrose lost five matches to Rollins, Reigns challenged Rollins but lost to him eventually, owing to an incarcerated hernia.
However, he revived his glory and held the title at ‘WrestleMania’ after defeating Daniel Bryan via pinfall. He then went on to challenge The Big Show, and pulled off a victory against him.
Next, he competed for the ‘Money in the Bank’ ladder match in a feud against Bray Wyatt which was followed by a few defeats and disqualifications in tag team matches. Eventually, Romans did go on to win the ‘Hell in a Cell’ match against Wyatt.
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New WWE World Heavyweight Champion
After winning a fatal four-way match against Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler, and Kevin Owens, he inched towards becoming the new ‘WWE World Heavyweight Champion.’
With the then defending champion Seth Rollins injured that year, the title was awaiting its new champion. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Reigns went on to win the first round against Big Show and took on Cesaro in the quarterfinals.
He won the semi-final round against Alberto Del Rio, and was eventually victorious in the finals against Dean Ambrose. By defeating Ambrose, Roman became the ‘WWE World Heavyweight Champion’ for the first time in his career.
However, in a feud that followed only five minutes after the championship, Roman lost his title to Sheamus who pinned him down to win the title.
Subsequently, Mr. McMahon, the CEO of ‘WWE,’ granted Reigns a rematch against Sheamus. Reigns regained his title in the rematch, becoming the ‘WWE World Heavyweight Champion’ for the second time.
He became a ‘WWE World Heavyweight Champion’ for the third time after winning a match against Triple H. However, he was later suspended for violating the ‘WWE Wellness’ rules, and apologized on Twitter for the same.
On August 21, 2016, Reigns went on to win his first ‘United States Championship,’ defeating Rusev. Later, after facing a series of losses at the ‘Survivor Series,’ ‘Royal Rumble,’ and ‘Extreme Rules,’ he started a brief feud with John Cena
In October 2017, ‘The Shield’ had a brief reunion due to their mutual issues with The Miz. He then defeated The Miz for the ‘Intercontinental Championship,’ becoming the seventeenth ‘Grand Slam’ champion.
After losing to Lesnar at the ‘Greatest Royal Rumble’ match, Reigns engaged in a feud with Bobby Lashley. He then defeated Lashley in a match at ‘Extreme Rules’ to become the number one contender to face Lesnar for the championship.
At ‘Summer Slam,’ he defeated Lesnar and won his first ‘Universal Championship’ of his career. The reunited ‘Shield’ then defeated Strowman, Ziggler, and McIntyre in a six-man tag team match.
After a brief hiatus due to health issues, Reigns reunited with Ambrose and Rollins for the third time and defeated McIntyre, Lashley, and Corbin. He subsequently defeated McIntyre at ‘WrestleMania 35.’ He then teamed up with The Undertaker to defeat McMohan and McIntyre in a match at ‘Extreme Rules.’
Awards & Achievements
After a hernia surgery, he appeared on television for the December 8 episode of ‘Raw’ in 2014, in which he accepted the ‘Slammy Award’ for ‘Superstar of the Year.’
Apart from claiming the ‘WWE World Heavyweight Championship’ thrice, Roman Reigns challenged Rusev to become the number one contender for the ‘WWE Universal Championship.’
On 25 September 2016, he defeated Rusev at the ‘Clash of Champions.’ He continued his feud with Rusev before defeating him in a ‘Hell in a Cell’ match on 30 October.
In 2017, Reigns defeated The Miz to win his first ‘Intercontinental Championship.’ The following year, he defeated Brock Lesnar and won his first ‘Universal Championship’ of his career.
Personal Life & Legacy
He dated Galina Joelle Becker for several years. The couple was blessed with a daughter on 14 December 2008. Roman married Galina in December 2014, and their daughter was a flower girl at their wedding. In 2016, the couple was blessed with twin boys.
Roman’s elder brother Rosey died on 17 April 2017 due to congestive heart failure. Thus, Roman is the only heir of the Samoan wrestler Sika.