A star defensive tackle at Georgia Tech, Roman Reigns wrecked NFL offensive guards for both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings before becoming a WWE Superstar. The hulking powerhouse brought his smash-mouth gridiron style to WWE’s developmental program, where he ran roughshod over the competition. But it was at the 2012 Survivor Series that “The Big Dog” made his greatest impact.
In the heat of a Triple Threat Match between WWE Champion CM Punk, Ryback and John Cena, Reigns hit the squared circle alongside fellow WWE NXT competitors Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose and unleashed a merciless attack on the muscle-bound Ryback. Tearing at the beast like a pack of hungry jackals, the young wrestlers ruined Ryback’s opportunity to win the WWE Championship by slamming him through a table at ringside.
Rumors that the trio was working in collusion with The Second City Saint quickly spread, but those ties were strongly denied when Reigns, Ambrose and Rollins sat down with Michael Cole for an interview. Calling themselves The Shield, the gang of upstarts in black tactical gear said that they weren’t in WWE to help Punk, but to halt injustice. From then on, the trio targeted anyone and everyone they saw as an example of said injustice, with Reigns slowly emerging as the group’s tower of force. In April 2013 at Extreme Rules, Reigns and Rollins beat Team Hell No — Daniel Bryan and Kane — to capture the WWE Tag Team Championship. The Shield continued targeting Bryan on the orders of WWE Chief Operating Officer Triple H and his corporate Authority.
Reigns didn’t suffer his first pinfall loss until nearly a year after The Shield arrived onto the WWE scene. On the September 23, 2013 edition of Raw, Reigns was eliminated by Jimmy and Jey Uso in the first-ever 11-on-3 Handicap Elimination Tag Team Match that pitted The Shield against Bryan and his supporters in the locker room. As tensions began to mount between The Shield and The Authority in 2014, The Authority was revealed to view The Hounds as “expendable.” The trio eventually turned on their handlers, leading Triple H to re-form Evolution with Batista and Randy Orton in retaliation. When that plan failed, he recruited Rollins to his own ranks, causing The Shield to implode.
The Shield may have disbanded, but Reigns is just getting started. He has all the tools, even down to his genetic make-up, to be a serious WWE World Heavyweight Championship juggernaut for years to come. He is built like his cousin, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, with a mean streak akin to his Samoan ancestors. He competes with the same ferocity that made him a standout college football player for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Members of the WWE Universe have taken notice. Since rebelling against The Authority, Reigns has exploded in popularity, his momentum going like massive boulder rolling downhill towards an unfortunate target.