Roman Reigns' road to the WWE was rather unorthodox. After a failed career as a football player, Roman changed paths and opted to follow his bloodline and pursue a career as a WWE Superstar. As you will see in this article, things got off to a pretty rocky start for Roman down in developmental. The future star dealt with some horrid gimmicks along with an extended run as a tag team wrestler. Thankfully, that was short-lived and Roman would take the main roster by storm once he made his debut with The Shield.
Ever since, his WWE journey has been a roller coaster ride. In this article, we document both sides of the coin, looking at pictures the WWE wants you to see, which features an array of championship victories, along with Roman and his involvement with the kids. On the opposite side of the spectrum, we look at photos the company is probably not to fond of.
Enjoy these photos and let us know which ones made you mark out the most!
15 Do: Roman The Family Man
In the PG Era, the WWE has cleaned up its act in more ways than one. Nowadays, the on-screen product has become more family friendly than ever before and caters to younger audiences, similar to the early 90s.
With a focus on a cleaner product, the WWE loves to showcase some of its role models within the company. Titus O’Neal is one of those wrestlers, as despite his lack of on-screen popularity, he gets loads of exposure because of the Father of the Year award that he won.
In a similar way, the WWE loves to acknowledge the fact that Roman is a family man and has gained huge amounts of exposure for his relationship with his daughter, who appeared alongside her dad in a public service announcement for the WWE.
14 Don’t: His “Thick” Look
One of the reasons Roman Reigns manages to get some cheers during WWE live events is the fact that he’s a good looking dude. Lookswise, Roman is the total package and a guy the ladies love to get behind, even if they know nothing about pro wrestler or about Roman for that matter.
The WWE certainly doesn’t mind that at all and has used his image to make him the star he is today. What the WWE probably doesn’t want his fans to know is that Roman didn’t always look like this. Back in his days before the WWE, Roman was a heavier dude, weighing close to 300 pounds. Roman was a defensive tackle in football, so he beefed up and added a couple of extra pounds. Looking at his condition today, it’s safe to assume he hit the treadmill before signing with the WWE.
13 Do: His Public Appearances
As we discussed in the previous point, the WWE loves Roman’s entire look and it's one of the major reasons he has become such a vital star within the company since his days with The Shield.
With such a look, comes loads and loads of exposure to the mainstream media. The company loves to showcase Roman globally, not only for his good looks but due to the fact that he speaks and communicates very well with the media. Reigns has proven to be a great spokesperson, making various appearances on shows like the Today Show. During the segment, Roman was as cool as cool can be, showing off his WWE Title. The company is very selective with the Superstars they believe can sell the brand on a global stage and Roman is definitely one of the guys they lean on.
12 Don’t: His FCW gimmick
Before striking gold as a dominant, powerhouse brawler, Reigns had a weird gimmick down in FCW. In the picture above, you’d think he was a limousine driver or something of the sorts. But instead, the company initially opted to make Roman a “businessman” who dressed up in suits on his way to the ring. His slogan and catchphrase for the gimmick was “the most valuable commodity in WWE”. Yikes. That sounds awful and like a terrible rip off of The Million Dollar Man and I.R.S. put together in one terrible character.
Thankfully, the lackluster gimmick was short-lived. After FCW was re-branded to NXT, Reigns only fought a couple of matches and was quickly pushed onto the main roster for a run alongside his fellow Shield brothers. Speaking of The Shield...
11 Do: His Run With The Shield
Making their debut November 18th, 2012, the company struck gold at the Survivor Series PPV with The Shield. The group was initially booked to protect CM Punk, but later ended up going their way and destroying everything in sight.
The WWE still profits off of the group’s success, glorifying their run on various WWE Network shows and through memorabilia which you can find on the company’s website. All of the members of the group would go onto become major stars and win the WWE Championship at different times. Throughout the booking of the team, Roman was always made to look like the strongest member of the group. According to CM Punk, McMahon demanded that the other Superstars made Roman look like a million bucks anytime they confronted him in the ring. His Shield popularity was pivotal for the future of his career.
10 Don’t: His Tag Team Run With Tyler Breeze
As we discussed earlier in the article, Roman Reigns went through some odd phases during his time down in developmental with both FCW and later NXT. One twist saw Roman work in the tag team division alongside current WWE main roster member Tyler Breeze. The unlikely duo captured the FCW Tag Titles, but their championship run was short, as the duo was quickly dethroned by CJ Parker and current WWE star Jason Jordan.
Reigns would make up some other tag teams with the likes of Donny Marlow, aka Camacho, which never really went anywhere. His developmental run was forgettable and had limited bright spots except for this one, although the WWE probably doesn’t want you to know about it, given the fact that it happened alongside WWE pretty boy and lower-card worker Tyler Breeze.
9 Do: His Slammy Awards
Remember when the Slammy Awards actually meant something back in the 90s? Well, those days are long gone and the entire ceremony has turned into a glorified time-filler more than anything else.
If you ask the WWE, however, they beg to differ. The company loves to showcase the award ceremony by highlighting some of their more noteworthy stars and, in recent years, that’s been code for Roman Reigns. Since 2013, Reigns has won seven Slammy Awards, which includes the “Superstar of the Year” award that Roman took home in 2014. Each year, the company highlights Roman during the ceremony and will continue to do so going forward. An award Roman won’t be winning this year is the Trending Now (Hashtag) award for #RomanSucks. Although some feel like it’s merited, the WWE would acknowledge it.
8 Don’t: The Promo From Hell
One of the many reasons the WWE Universe dislikes Roman Reigns is his inability to deliver a genuine promo. During his early days, everything he said felt scripted and corny . Props to him for improving recently, but his promos were really bad for a long time.
His worst promo came in the picture above, during a SmackDown segment with Seth Rollins. The video is online via YouTube and you can see how uncomfortable the entire segment truly was for yourself. Not even SmackDown’s edits could save Roman. It appeared as though Reigns came out with no game plan and was responding to Rollins with some of the most nonsensical words ever. To make matters worse, all you heard in the crowd was a bunch of crickets throughout the promo. Even Seth Rollins looked uncomfortable throughout the experience. This surely is something the WWE wants to bury forever.
7 Do: Winning the Title At WrestleMania
For the WWE, this was labelled as a ground breaking moment in company history, as they awarded the future face of their company with the WWE Championship. The title win was went meant to propel Reigns to the top of the company, as he would guide the company into the future with his title win. Despite everything that's happened since, the WWE probably still wants you to remember this picture as the day their triumphant babyface won the WWE Championship in an epic main event.
However, most won't view it that way. The main event of WrestleMania 32 was terribly received and his title run was the opposite of what was expected, as Reigns would drop the strap after a 77 day run. It was later revealed that he lost the belt as a punishment for failing the Wellness Policy. Still, the WWE wants you to remember the image of him holding the belt high in the main event, a sight we’ll probably see again in the future.
6 Don’t: His Initial Ambition
The WWE certainly wants you to believe that all their stars grew up with the dream of working for the WWE, but that wasn’t the case for Roman Reigns. Instead, Roman aspired to play in the NFL and despite having wrestling in his blood line, he neglected the squared circle until he had no other alternatives.
Reigns had terrific collegiate years and was named one of top players of his class during his stint with Georgia Tech. In 2007, Roman was eligible for the NFL Draft but went undrafted. He would tryout for the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars, only to miss out with both teams. He’d go on to spend a year in the CFL during 2008 before he’d retire from football. That same year, Reigns would set his sights on a possible career as a pro wrestler.
5 Do: His Relationship With The Rock
Roman Reigns' football to pro wrestling story sounds kind of familiar right? Well, that’s probably because his cousin The Rock underwent the same transition, going from a failed football career to a prime position in the WWE.
The company loves the fact that the two are related, as it adds much more allure to Reigns' character. The WWE even tried to use The Rock to put Reigns over during his Royal Rumble win, but not even The Great One could save Roman on that night in front of a hostile Philly crowd.
Roman’s bloodlines run pretty deep, as he’s the brother of former WWE star Rosey and is cousins with a variety of former WWE performers, including the late Yokozuna, Rikishi, the late Umaga and, of course, The Usos.
4 Don’t: His Royal Rumble Victory
WWE wanted January 25th, 2015 to be labelled as the day Roman Reigns would officially arrive as a solo star by winning the Royal Rumble. Because of horrible booking, this did not go according to plan and the fans completely turned on Reigns because of it.
Daniel Bryan was the hottest commodity in the WWE at this point, so putting him in the Rumble, only to quickly lose, wasn’t the best idea. Once Bryan got eliminated, the crowd grew frustrated and realized that Roman was going to win the match. Entering at number 19, Reigns received some loud boos from the hostile Philly fans. He’d go on to eliminate all three of the final combatants, which included Big Show, Kane and Rusev. His victory was terribly received and it led to a rocky road to WrestleMania, which saw Seth Rollins actually walk out with the championship.
3 Do: His New Title Run
Following his WWE Championship loss, Roman returned from his suspension to a sequence of losses, something we hadn’t seen in his entire career. The company would also take Roman out of the Universal Championship picture all together and book him in a feud against Rusev for the United States Championship.
The rivalry actually built up quite nicely and led to Reigns getting some wins and ultimately winning the US Championship. The company celebrated his championship victory by quickly littering their website with photos of Roman holding the title on his shoulder. Surely, this is yet another tactic by the WWE to build up Roman Reigns in the eyes of fans. You can expect a lengthy run for Reigns with the title and the only way he drops it is for another run at the Universal Championship.
2 Don’t: Changing His Signs
Roman Reigns is like your little brother that your parents are constantly over-protecting, as the WWE has been extra careful with Reigns on various occasions. For one, the WWE usually alters the audio when Roman comes out to drown out some of the boos. Ever find it odd how the volume just magically gets lower and skewed? Don’t, it’s the WWE trying to pull a fast one.
They also tried to protect him by altering a fan's sign. When A.J. Styles fought Reigns at Payback 2016, a curious sign read “When it Reigns” with nothing written under. It was later revealed that the sign actually said “Bores!!!” underneath, but the WWE tried to blur it. Just brutal...
1 Do: His Time Spent With the Kids
We'll finish this article by reiterating that WWE loves to promote guys who represent their new family-friendly values. Instead of finding appeal in a "Hell Raiser" character, who's pointing the finger on a poster, the WWE has now shifted its focus towards a positive role model that has superhero-like qualities.
Obviously, the goal is for the character to appeal towards a younger demographic. Roman Reigns does exactly that, as he possess both speed and power, and is made to look like a superhero with his emblem on his chest. The WWE loves to take advantage of this by having Reigns meet several fans. This special moment took place with a child from Make-A-Wish, who requested to meet the WWE star. His impact isn’t as profound as John Cena yet, but you can expect the WWE to build him up in a similar fashion for the next several years.