From his start as the muscle behind one of WWE’s best-loved stables, The Shield, to a main eventer at multiple WrestleManias, Roman Reigns’ career has certainly had plenty of highs. But it’s not been smooth sailing from the start. Reigns has also certainly had his share of lows — some of which have threatened to derail his career.
But with his star now shining brightly enough to attract Hollywood’s attention, some wonder more about the man behind the buzz. Just who is Roman Reigns, really? And what is his connection to The Rock, the man many predict will be Reigns’ next WrestleMania opponent?
Roman Reigns’ wrestling career
It’s no secret to avid WWE watchers that Reigns is the man to watch and beat. At WrestleMania 38 this year, Reigns beat Brock Lesnar, a former longstanding champion with a fierce reputation, in part because of his championship run in UFC. In this champion-versus-champion bout, he pinned Lesnar and took his belt to become the Unified Champion and make history.
But Reigns wasn’t always king of the hill. In fact, his professional career began with short-lived stints in major and minor league football. After his release in 2008, he pursued a career in wrestling. By 2012, the Pensacola, Florida, debuted as part of a trio of other developing talents called The Shield. Known for their hard-hitting promos and style, The Shield helped Reigns establish himself as main roster talent, allowing him to become a singles competitor by 2014.
Reigns quickly established himself as a dominant superstar, resulting in some fan backlash over how heavily WWE promoted him. This backlash was worked into multiple WWE storylines over time. But as Reigns began a new championship run in 2018, a leukemia diagnosis sidelined him. Relinquishing his title after a heartfelt address to fans, he left to seek treatment.
Upon his return a year later, fan perception of Reigns began to soften. Shortly after his return in 2020, Reigns’ in-ring persona changed from that of a good guy to a bad guy (from “babyface” to “heel” in wrestling parlance). His popularity soared to even greater heights. With his most recent win at WrestleMania 38, the sky is the limit.
What is WWE star Roman Reigns’ real name?
Who is the man behind the fame? Born Leati Joseph “Joe” Anoaʻi, the titleholder was born into the famous Anoaʻi wrestling family, reports BuzzFeed. His cousins include superstar wrestlers and current tag team champions Jimmy and Jey Uso, as well as The Tonga Kid and Rikishi.
Reigns also counts among his cousins the late wrestlers, Yokozuna and Umaga. His father was one-half of the famous tag team, The Wild Samoans. His brother was the late WWE wrestler Rosey. If you look further at Reigns’ family tree, you’ll doubtlessly find some other wrestlers from WWE and independent promotions.
Reigns himself is furthering the family’s wrestling tradition. He and his wife Galina Joelle Becker have a daughter and twin boys. While only time will tell if they join the family business, Reigns’ pedigree will certainly give them a leg up should they choose to. With an estimated net worth of $15 million, according to BuzzFeed, they’ll certainly have the resources they need.
Reigns’ next opponent: The Rock?
With the defeat of Lesnar, some wrestling fans and industry insiders believe Reigns’ may run low on credible contenders. During his current title run, which approaches 600 days, he’s defeated challenger after challenger, often in a dominant fashion.
However, many predict The Rock will be Reigns’ next opponent. While Reigns and The Rock are widely thought to be cousins, they share no blood relation. However, if you go back far enough in each man’s family tree, close family ties exist. As a result, The Rock and his late grandfather, former WWE champion Rocky Maivia, are honorary members.
Next year’s WrestleMania will take place in Hollywood. It’s the perfect setting for the return of WWE’s biggest crossover success story. After his own multiple title runs in WWE, The Rock has enjoyed a highly successful movie career.
What better place for him to return to the squared circle than WrestleMania 39? If he does return as a babyface as expected, he may be the man to end the villainous Reigns’ title reign for good.