On November 18, 2012, three up-and-coming WWE Superstars – Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins – burst onto the scene at Survivor Series. Dressed in all black, the trio helped CM Punk retain the WWE Championship by putting Ryback through an announce desk.
The three men, who later became known as The Shield, established themselves as the top WWE faction of their era. Following their break-up on June 2, 2014, it was clear that every Shield member would achieve huge things as singles competitors.
Roman Reigns, in particular, has exceeded expectations. The Muscle of The Shield was still a rookie when he debuted at Survivor Series. Within three years, he had already won the Royal Rumble, headlined WrestleMania, and won his first WWE Championship.
As of the time of writing, Roman Reigns is a four-time WrestleMania main-eventer. He has also held five World Championships, as well as the Intercontinental Championship, United States Championship, and Tag Team Championship.
Roman Reigns’ most important battle came in October 2018 when he announced that he had been diagnosed with leukemia for the second time. Fortunately, he made a full recovery and returned to action just five months later.
In this article, let’s reflect on Roman Reigns’ career by counting down one backstage story from each of his main-roster years.
#9 How Roman Reigns created his name (2012)
The man behind the Roman Reigns character, Joe Anoa’i, was known as Leakee and Roman Leakee in 2010 and 2011. Three months before his WWE main-roster call-up, the rookie Superstar became known as Roman Reigns for the first time.
Speaking on Chris Jericho’s Talk Is Jericho podcast in 2017, Roman Reigns revealed that Corey Graves had a role in his name change. Graves suggested that his friend should change his surname to Reigns following the departure of Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) talent Calvin Raines.
“I was going through it and Corey Graves, he was down in FCW, still working at that time, he's actually one of my good buddies and our families are like really good friends. He told me, he was like, 'Hey, I heard you saying 'Roman Raines'. What if you spelled it like, 'Reigns', like a king reigns.' And I was like, 'Whoa, I like that.' And there you go. And total heel name too!” [H/T Wrestling Inc.]
Roman Reigns picked up wins over C.J. Parker, Chase Donovan, and Gavin Reid on NXT after his name change. He then joined forces with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins to form The Shield on WWE’s main roster.