Former Universal Champion Roman Reigns is on his way to becoming not one of, but THE biggest superstar in WWE when he becomes the new "face that runs the place." WWE has been building Reigns up as their next big star for years now and the latter has gone on to main event four WrestleManias in a row, even though most of those matches received generally unfavorable reviews from fans and critics.
While we have known the Roman Reigns character for a while now, not many people know about the man playing the character, the man known as Joe Anoa'i. Joe comes from a family of professional wrestlers. It runs in his blood. His father Sika Anoa'i and his brother Rosey also competed in WWE and his cousins The Usos are the biggest name in the tag team division right now and his other cousin, The Rock, is one of the most popular wrestlers in WWE history.
When The Big Dog publicly announced that he has been living with leukemia for 11 years, fans were legitimately shocked because none of us knew anything about it. That told us that there is still a lot we don't know about him and although we have known the character for years, Joe Anoa'i felt like a stranger to us.
From his childhood growing up to playing American football, here are some of the rarest photos of Roman Reigns before you knew him in WWE.
#5 Roman Reigns in Florida Championship Wrestling
The first time that the majority of the WWE Universe saw Roman Reigns was when he debuted with his Shield brothers Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose at Survivor Series in 2012. Before that, Reigns competed in Florida Championship Wrestling under the name Roman Leakee from 2010 before the developmental territory was rebranded to NXT.
While FCW was under WWE, Reigns did not "make it" in WWE yet and he was hardly known as he is today. The Big Dog went on to main event four consecutive WrestleManias and became the ninth Grand Slam Champion in WWE, winning the Tag Team Championships, United States Championship, Intercontinental Championship, WWE Championship, and Universal Championship.
#4 Roman Reigns as a Football player
Before finally deciding to become a pro wrestler like his dad and relatives, Roman Reigns was an American Football player. Reigns took part in the sport for three years at Pensacola Catholic High School and for one year in another high school. In his senior year, Reigns was named 'Defensive Player of the Year.' He became a member of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football team when he attended Georgia Institute of Technology.
After he went undrafted in the 2007 National Football League draft, he was signed by the Minnesota Vikings football team in May 2007. He was released later that month after he was diagnosed with leukemia. The Jacksonville Jaguars then signed him in 2007, only to release him less than a week later before the start of the 2007 season of the NFL. After a failed career in the sport, Reigns finally decided to join the world of professional wrestling, which turned out to be a huge success for him.
#3 Roman Reigns as a graduate
Roman attended Pensacola Catholic High School and Georgia Institute of Technology where he played American Football. Reigns started his professional football career with a brief off-season stint with football teams the Minnesota Vikings and then the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League in the year 2007.
He later went on to play a full season for the Edmonton Eskimos, part of the Canadian Football League, in 2008, before his release and retirement from the sport. Reigns is currently married with three children. After joining WWE, he enjoyed plenty of success and his run with The Shield was one of the best in his career.
Since his return to the company from battling leukemia, Reigns is no longer heavily booed from fans and even received a pop when he returned to WWE on Raw in February this year.
#2 A young Roman Reigns (with his father Sika)
Roman Reigns, or Joseph Anoa'i, is the son of former WWF wrestler Leati Sika Anoa'i, who is perhaps better known as part of a tag team known as the "Wild Samoans" with Afa. Apart from his father, Reigns is related to several other WWE Superstars. His late brother Rosey was one-half of 3-Minute Warning and even teamed up with The Hurricane before departing from the company in 2006 and being laid to rest in 2017.
The Anoaʻi family is one of the biggest families and has produced some of the most popular wrestlers in professional wrestling. Other wrestlers who are related the Big Dog are former WWE Superstars Yokozuna, Rikishi, Umaga (who died in 2009), The Tonga Kid, current WWE Superstars The Usos and former WWE Champion The Rock.
#1 Reigns with his cousins The Usos
What's left to say here? Even though Roman Reigns found success as both a member of The Shield and as a singles competitor, his cousins Jimmy and Jey Uso, however, found success as a tag team. The duo won the WWE Tag Team Championships twice and the SmackDown Tag Team Championships four times.
Reigns' relation with The Usos has been acknowledged several times on WWE TV, including Reigns' feud with The Authority when he teamed up with The Usos and Dean Ambrose on Raw and when The Usos had his back during his feud with AJ Styles for the WWE Championship in 2016.
These three superstars grew up together and they found success in WWE and there is no doubt that they are future WWE Hall of Famers.