Transitioning from the sport of football to sports entertainment is no easy task. From the likes of Lex Luger, Marcus Von Con, to Goldberg all these gentleman went from the gridiron to the squared circle. Another athlete you can add to that list is WWE superstar Roman Reigns.
Leati Joseph Anoa'I as he’s known outside of the ring, began his wrestling career in 2010 within the WWE’s developmental territory. From there, he continued to build himself up as one of the fastest rising talents in the organization and became a rostered WWE member on November 18th, 2012.
There was a lot of chatter that the heel group Reigns was a part of called “The Shield”, would be making their debut at the Survivor Series PPV in Indianapolis, Indiana. For Reigns the feelings he felt were indescribable.
“It was a literally a rush. Looking back at it I felt like I was so unprepared. The funny thing is that day they wanted us to come out during the Triple Threat Match, with literally riot shields. They gave us turtlenecks and stuff and it didn’t really fit us, so we made a few adjustments. We were the new guys so all the eyes were on us and they wanted to see what we were made of."
"After that match, after we walked through the curtain, it was high fives all around. From that day forward, the three of us made a pact that we are in this together and whatever happens, we do it together.”
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose made up the other two pieces of the ever evolving group. Immediately they made their presence felt through the WWE audience. Their entrance to a WWE ring is also a rare occurrence that not many wrestlers have taken in the past, by making their way through the crowd.
“I don’t know if it was creative or us but once the idea popped, we immediately said yes. I think it was a little bit of both, but we jumped on it. It’s a part of us now and it’s good for the show. I think it’s something that makes the aisle seats ‘hot seats’ because people want to be on TV or see us walk down the stairs. It’s a special bond with the fans and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Reigns hasn’t been the first family member to take on the professional wrestling experience. He is the son of Sika Anoa'i of the “Wild Samoans” and his brother is Matt (Rosey) was in the WWE from 2002-2006. His cousins are The Rock, The Usos and the late Umaga and Yokozuna. You can say wrestling runs in his blood, but he isn’t afraid to look toward his brother for advice.
“My big brother is a huge part of my career. I’m experiencing a lot of things that he has gone through and I can always ask him about anything. Anytime I can reach out to him and get some advice he’s always willing to talk and answer questions."
"It really helps me ease my mind when I know I can talk to somebody who has gone almost everything.”
Coming up as a group with two other developmental has really increased Reign’s learning curve. Again, the bond they have made since being in Florida, to coming up to the main roster is something that is not unbreakable.
“I can’t say enough about Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. Those guys have busted their ass in the independent circuit. We were all on the same page because we were all hungry. We all wanted to be the best and that will never change. We have a strict regimen; workout, eat and wrestle. Sometimes we sleep but in the end we do it together.”
There were a lot of groups that have gone through the WWE that often split for numerous reasons. Creative has different ideas for each superstar, the angles have run their course, or want to focus on an individual superstar. Roman Reigns could be the next superstar to follow that immense path but he still looks at himself as individual, even while being in a faction.
“Even though I’m part of the Shield, I’m still my own individual wrestler. Deon Sanders was on a team his entire career, but he was still him. When it comes to comes to team fighting I will be there ready to roll but again I’m still me. There’s a lot of strong personalities in this business and I’m right there at the forefront."
"Whatever path I’m put on either with a group of guys or by myself I won’t change my mindset. That’s how I was born and raised doing anything.”
For every superstar that is hated on camera, the critics will always find something wrong with the character that person plays. Cutting promos is widely known as one of the toughest aspects of professional wrestling. Right or wrong, many look at cutting promos as the Achilles Heel to Roman Reigns.
“I’ve never been bothered about what a fan thinks. That’s their prerogative, that’s their opinion. Everybody can see what I am doing in ring, but people will still criticize me. I am a student of the game, so I’m working on things every day. If it’s not physical it’s mental and cutting promos is mental. Anytime I’m thinking about wrestling, I’m going to run thoughts through my head to improve myself in all areas.”
Being a WWE superstar can take its twists and turns and but also be a fulfilling lifestyle. However, it could also rear its ugly head and the wrestler can be eliminated in a second. Reigns so far has the mentality and physical make up to continue his success for many years.
“In five years I want to be WWE Champion. It’s simple as that. If somebody else told you something else, they would be lying to you. I will be riding in a private plane called ‘Roman Air’ or ‘Roman Empire’. No matter what the plane is called, I will have gold around my waist.”
The WWE invades The Allstate Arena December 26th. The Shield will be taking on CM Punk in a 3 on 1 handicap match.
Filed under: Wrestling