Labar: Wrestling success runs in Reigns' family
In less than a year, Roman Reigns has become part of an important faction in wrestling, but we shouldn't have expected anything less.
With his imposing size and tribal tattoos on his arms, Reigns fits the physical bill for Samoan wrestlers. The Wild Samoans tag team, The Uso brothers, Yokozuna, Rikishi, Umaga and that guy named Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are all relatives of the WWE rookie.
They were all successful in wrestling.
“I come from very strong family,” Reigns said. “My heritage is strong within this business. I was gifted with a certain set of genetics. I'm athletic. I like to think I'm not a bad looking guy. One of the jokes we always talk about, as long as I can put a little oil on my arms, wet my hair and I'll be alright.”
Reigns made a lasting first impression on the WWE audience much like his relatives Yokozuna, Umaga and The Rock once did. Survivor Series in November of 2012 saw three unfamiliar faces come out of the crowd dressed in SWAT team-like gear and destroy Ryback, who was challenging the WWE champion CM Punk.
It was Reigns along with two veterans of the business, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, who made their mark on the independent wrestling scene before being signed to WWE. The three men would be known as The Shield and claimed they were all about justice.
“It was pretty much unexpected,” Reigns said. “I heard some rumors we would possibly do something at Hell in a Cell. That kind of folded. We waited a few weeks to get to Survivor Series. Once we got the green light, we just kicked the door down.”
Since then, The Shield has physically dominated John Cena, Randy Orton, Big Show, Mark Henry, Daniel Bryan and many other top names. While Reigns has gotten to work against many of them, it seems the biggest benefit has been learning from partners Ambrose and Rollins.
“Being paired up with them has been an awesome experience. For me, I don't even feel like I'm scratching the surface yet. I'm just now starting to let my hair down,” said Reigns.
Working next to others as a teammate or partner is nothing new for the 6-foot-3 enforcer of The Shield. Prior to his time in WWE, Reigns played defensive line at Georgia Tech where he was named first team all-ACC as a senior.
“When you're dealing with Division I football, it's very structured,” he said. “They ask a lot of you. To be able to focus every single day preparing for a game, it takes a lot of discipline. It takes a lot of loyalty. You have to stay humble. It's a team sport. It definitely helps me doing what I'm doing now.”
This is yet another parallel to many of the other success stories in his family, most notably The Rock, who was a Miami Hurricane before leaving football to join the family business of wrestling.
So what is it about the Samoan family that seems to make wrestling such a natural line of work? Reigns explained their attributes and how it plays right into what makes a star in wrestling.
“We were all able to play other sports and do other things. I'd like to think along with the athleticism, it's aggression. There is not a shortage of aggression with us. We're not afraid to turn it up ... and put it on somebody. I think that definitely helps, and that's like a first impression there. Once things break down and you get to know us, we all live in the moment, we like to have a good time. I think that's where a lot of our charisma comes from.”
Every Monday night, you can see The Shield on Raw. When they're in Pittsburgh on Oct. 7, you're guaranteed to hear them say “Believe in The Shield.”
Based on what we know about the family and what we're seeing from the man, I'd say believe in Roman Reigns.
Trib Total Media staffer Justin LaBar has a wrestling column every Monday and Friday. He also hosts Wrestling Reality at sportstalk.triblive.com every Tuesday from 3 to 5 p.m.