The Shield is one of the most dominant, popular and influential factions in professional wrestling history. Consisting of Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, The Shield unexpectedly debuted at the 2012 Survivor Series. After emerging from the audience wearing all-black tactical gear, The Shield ensured that CM Punk would prevail over Ryback and John Cena in their triple threat match to successfully defend the heavyweight title. Nicknamed the “Hounds of Justice,” the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Ambrose, 6-foot-3, 265-pound Reigns and 6-foot-1, 215-pound Rollins proceeded to ambush and pummel all adversaries from their debut until they finally fell cleanly to the trio of Kane, Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton in May 2013. Despite losing, The Shield had already built a superior résumé and firmly established themselves as an overwhelming force in the squared circle.
The Shield’s era of dominance likely hit its apex after the badasses conquered Batista, Orton and Triple H in a no-holds-barred elimination match at Payback on June 1, 2014. Alas, after being bribed by Triple H, The Shield disbanded the following evening when Rollins brutally attacked Ambrose and Reigns with a steel chair. Following more than three years competing as singles competitors, The Shield reunited on October 9 to battle Cesaro, Sheamus and The Miz.
“The bond we sort of created with the audience over the past five or six years, stuff like that and stuff we've been doing, it's just cool to see that everyone's still emotionally invested in us as characters,” said Rollins. “And the fact that we are now on the same side, people are excited to see where we go moving forward.”
With The Shield back intact, let’s review 20 things you probably didn’t know about the personal lives of Ambrose, Reigns and Rollins.
20 DEAN AMBROSE WAS BULLIED AS A KID
Dean Ambrose was born Jonathan David Good and raised in a seedy section in Cincinnati’s East End. With an absent father, Ambrose and his poverty-stricken mother lived together in one of that area’s public housing projects.
“My neighborhood was pretty much a big stretch of government housing and all these torn up apartment buildings all owned by different people,” said Ambrose, 31. “It was easy to get the feeling that all the garbage from the city ran down and washed up there, so that gave me a chip on my shoulder very early on.”
Unsurprisingly, owning few material possessions and wearing raggedy clothing, local toughs bullied Ambrose.
“There were other times where dudes would catch me walking by and try to push me around, and I had to draw a line, even if I was gonna get pulverized,” recalled Ambrose. “I ended up earning respect that way -- not that I cared, I just wanted out.”
It’s safe to presume that these tormentors would now cower to the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Ambrose.
19 ROMAN REIGNS IS THE FINAL HEIR TO SAMOAN WRESTLER SIKA ANOA’I
Roman Reigns’ brother, Rosey, succumbed to congestive heart failure at the age of 47 on April 17. The 6-foot-4, 430-pound Rosey, born Matthew Tapunu'u Anoaʻi in San Francisco, played football with Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith at Escambia High School in Pensacola, Florida. Rosey’s gridiron aspirations never materialized and he decided to earn a livelihood as a wrestler. Rosey trained for more than four years before his 1995 debut in World Xtreme Wrestling.
“We want to let his fans know that he loved them and the wrestling world so much,” the family said in a statement.
“In his passing, he left three beautiful young children and a heartbroken family. Please respect the privacy of his children and family as they mourn the loss of this kind, loving, gentle man, who was a father, son, brother and a superhero to us all.”
Reigns is now the final heir of WWE Hall of Famer Sika Snoa’i.
18 SETH ROLLINS’ NAME IS A TRIBUTE TO HENRY ROLLINS
Seth Rollins was born Colby Daniel Lopez in Buffalo, Iowa. Lopez debuted as a grappler in 2005 and has used the ring names Gixx, Taj the Destroyer and Tyler Black. Shortly after leaving Ring of Honor, Lopez premiered as Seth Rollins in WWE's developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling, on September 30, 2010. Lopez, a rock music fanatic who lived a straight edge lifestyle, particularly loved Henry Rollins’ hardcore punk band Black Flag. Therefore, Lopez used the surname Rollins as a performer.
“Seth Rollins is a little bit of an ode to an idol of mine, Henry Rollins,” said Lopez, 31. “He’s the leader of one of my favorite bands, Black Flag. Seth is just a name that I liked.”
Without a reason for change, expect Rollins to indefinitely maintain his stage name.
17 DEAN AMBROSE Dealt Narcotics IN HIS YOUTH
Dean Ambrose resorted to selling drugs as a teenager to help his mother survive financially. The “Lunatic Fringe” detested his rough surroundings and the illicit activities that he undertook to gain spending money.
“I hated it (living in Cincinnati's East End projects) because every day was a struggle,” said Ambrose. “For instance, there were times that I would have to cave in and do something like sell somebody's drugs, just so I wouldn't get beaten half to death.”
According to a Forbes article titled “WWE's Highest-Paid Wrestlers,” Ambrose earned $1.1 million in 2016 for his work in Vince McMahon’s male soap opera. Hence, the 31-year-old Ambrose is unlikely to ever reestablish himself as a narcotics peddler on Cincy’s crime-ridden street corners.
16 ROMAN REIGNS WAS A DOMINANT FOOTBALL PLAYER
Roman Reigns, born Leati Joseph Anoaʻi, overpowered offensive linemen as a defensive tackle at Pensacola Catholic High School in Pensacola, Florida. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Reigns earned second-team All-State honors and was named the Defensive Player of the Year by the Pensacola News Journal. Reigns’ elite play attracted ample attention and he accepted a full athletic scholarship to compete for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets’ football program.
“Making that decision — it was such a stressful decision and there was so much riding on it,” said Reigns, 32.
“It’s tough when you’re trying to look four to eight years in the future and figure it all out as a young 17-year-old kid. By the time I got deeper into high school and seeing how I was stacking up against top-level competition, as a freshman I knew that I may have a chance of going to the NFL.”
Reigns, a three-year starter who compiled 12 sacks and 29.5 tackles for a loss as a senior, was named to the first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference in 2006.
15 SETH ROLLINS IS NOT LATINO
As previously noted, Seth Rollins was born Colby Daniel Lopez in Buffalo, Iowa. However, Lopez does not have any Latino origins and he is actually of Armenian, German and Irish descent. Rollins adopted the Hispanic surname Lopez after his mother married a Mexican-American man.
"No, I'm half Armenian and half German and Irish. My biological dad was Armenian,” said Rollins.
“My last name is Lopez and I have a darker complexion, which throws people for a loop. My mother's first husband is Mexican. That's where I got Lopez. I grew up eating Mexican food at home, but he was very American. He didn't grow up in Mexico or speak Spanish."
The 31-year-old Lopez, his mother and stepfather all remain residents of Davenport, Iowa.
14 DEAN AMBROSE BELIEVES HIS GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT WAS BUYING HIS MOTHER A HOUSE
Although destitute, Dean Ambrose’s mother provided for him to the best of her abilities. Ambrose claims that he mainly enjoyed a happy and fulfilling childhood. According to the “Lunatic Fringe,” it was impossible to recognize the harshness of his environment because it’s all he knew. Now one of WWE’s top 10 highest-paid workers, Ambrose can afford to make expensive purchases. Thus, Ambrose purchased his mother a home far removed from any of Cincinnati's ghettos. Ambrose also bought a house to share with his wife, Renee Young.
“The successes for me aren’t championships or any of that kind of s***,” said Ambrose.
“I was able to pay my mom’s house off, I have a home for myself, and another bonus was I was able to meet the one woman on planet ******* Earth that could ever put up with me. I feel like all the stars aligned. I’m one of those ‘I think the whole universe has a plan’ kind of guys.
13 ROMAN REIGNS WAS SIGNED BY TWO NFL FRANCHISES
Despite manhandling opponents in the ACC, Roman Reigns wasn’t chosen in the 2007 NFL Draft. Reigns briefly collected paychecks with the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars in the spring and summer of 2007. Unfortunately for the “Big Dog,” the Vikings and Jaguars both released Reigns and he never competed on the gridiron during a regular season contest. Approximately eight years later on March 29, 2015, Reigns challenged Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 31 in Santa Clara, California. Ironically, the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Lesnar was also a defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings’ practice squad in 2004. The Vikings used social media to send wishes to their two former employees.
“Good luck to ex-#Vikings @BrockLesnar & @WWERomanReigns as they square off in the main event of @WWE #WrestleMania,” the Vikings official Twitter account read.
In a surprising twist, with Reigns and Lesnar incapacitated, Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and captured the belt in what became an impromptu triple threat bout.
12 SETH ROLLINS STILL RESIDES IN IOWA
As the #HolidayOpen draws to a close I just wanted to thank everyone who participated and made it fun! We raised almost $2500 for @americares in the name of fitness. A major win-win situation. ••• Thanks to @joshyg27 for organizing everything and @teamsoul/ @dannyxsoul for the lovely programming! ••• Thanks to all the gyms who hosted us over the last month. Pictured here is fellow Iowan and strongest lady @jordanweichers outside of H-Town Crossfit. Couldn’t have done it without your time and space! ••• Lastly, thanks to every one of you Dead Boys and Girls who supported us while we tried out this little fitness experiment! Can’t wait to do it again! ••• Head over to @blackandbravewrestling to pick up the Dead Boys shirt! Black Friday sale coming in hot!!
Upon turning professional, the tremendous majority of wrestlers relocate to Los Angeles or a city in Florida. Unlike most of his peers, Seth Rollins remains in the Hawkeye State and is the only Iowan to ever hold the WWE world heavyweight championship. Rollins began honing his wrestling abilities as a student at Davenport West High School in Davenport, Iowa.
Jennifer O'Hare-Marker, Rollins’ guidance counselor in high school, recalled "The Architect’s” discipline and determination as a youngster.
"He would have 2-gallon milk containers filled with water and (would) drink those while he was working out or lifting," said O'Hare-Marker. "He used to carry a belt around — a wrestling victory belt — to keep himself motivated and focused.”
Rollins believes that Iowa is the ideal place for him to unwind and maintain his sanity.
"This is a place where I can go to completely disconnect from the character I play on TV, and I need that," said Rollins. "Mentally, that is crucial for my health. You just can't be someone else all the time, you just have to be you sometimes."
11 DEAN AMBROSE IDOLIZED BRET HART AS A CHILD
Bret “The Hitman” Hart was a dynamic in-ring performer who gained induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006. Because the gritty Cincinnatian couldn’t relate to Hulk Hogan, Dean Ambrose keenly followed Hart and studied his maneuvers inside the squared circle.
“Bret Hart would have been one of the first guys because I was never a Hulkamaniac,” said Ambrose.
“I remember the first times watching WWF, Bret Hart was kind of the man, winning King of the Ring, technical master and he could go for an hour. He had a million different moves he could beat anyone with. Just rugged, dynamic champion. He was so cool.”
On fundamentals alone, Ambrose couldn’t have chosen a better grappler to emulate than the "Excellence of Execution.”
10 ROMAN REIGNS ALSO CONSIDERS BRET HART HIS WRESTLING IDOL
Bret Hart played a heel and babyface throughout his 22-year career in the wrestling circuit. Although a member of the renowned Anoaʻi family of wrestlers, like Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns rooted for Hart as an adolescent.
“Every time he’d come out with that leather jacket and give his sunglasses away to a kid in the crowd, I used to dream about being that kid,” said Reigns.
“That hair, all that gear. To this day I still think he has kickass gear. He seemed like a standup guy. A really nice dude. He is a very cool dude.”
Vince McMahon and his flunkies have unsuccessfully tried to force Reigns onto the WWE Universe as a superhero and John Cena’s heir apparent. As an exceptionally polarizing figure, perhaps Reigns can relate to Hart now more than ever.
9 SETH ROLLINS IS A HUGE FAN OF THE CHICAGO BEARS AND ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Iowa is not home to a NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL team. Accordingly, most Iowan professional sports fans support franchises from neighboring states in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri and Illinois. From a young age, Seth Rollins selected the Chicago Bears as his favorite football squad and he inherited cheering for the St. Louis Cardinals from his grandfather.
“I come from a family of (St. Louis) Cardinals fans,” Rollins told the Chicago Tribune in October 2015.
“That’s who my grandpa liked. I didn’t get to make a decision. I’d like to see the Cardinals end (the Cubs’) season. It would be appropriate for that to happen. And I would get to make fun of all my Cubs fan friends if the Cardinals eliminate them. I’ve never seen Wrigley Field, but I’ve gone to a bunch of Bears games. I’m a big Bears fans. I hope they turn the season around.”
Although the Bears have never won a Super Bowl in his lifetime, the 31-year-old Rollins has seen the Cardinals capture World Series championships in the 2006 and 2011 seasons.
8 DEAN AMBROSE MADE HIS ACTING DEBUT IN 2015
Dean Ambrose starred as Detective John Shaw in the 2015 WWE Studios production “12 Rounds 3: Lockdown.” Ambrose had never previously acted on a film and he was astounded to learn that his character was written as the lead role.
"I figured I'd be in the background holding a gun for five seconds,” said Ambrose.
“Then they sent me the script and I realized I was the lead role and I thought it was hilarious. They have no idea I'm not qualified for this at all. I’ve never acted before, I've never been on the set for a Dunkin' Donuts commercial let alone an action movie."
Ambrose studied the art and convinced himself that he could perform in front of a camera as well as a couple of his contemporaries.
"If The Miz can do it, and Randy (Orton) can do it, then I can definitely do it,” said Ambrose. “I think I did pretty good, though."
7 CALVIN JOHNSON WANTED RINGSIDE WRESTLEMANIA 31 TICKETS TO WATCH ROMAN REIGNS
Roman Reigns and Calvin Johnson were teammates at Georgia Tech from 2004 through 2006. While the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Johnson became one of the most accomplished wide receivers in NFL history, Reigns ultimately developed into a WWE superstar. Approximately nine years after the two departed campus in Atlanta, Johnson wanted a ringside seat to watch Reigns fight Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31.
“We’re trying to coordinate,” Reigns said. “Hopefully, he’ll be able to come.”
Due to scheduling issues, Johnson was unable to travel to the Bay Area to watch Reigns and Lesnar lose to Seth Rollins in an unplanned triple threat scrap. However, Megatron is adamant that he’ll soon see his former gridiron ally battle in the squared circle.
"I told him next time he’s in town, either here (Detroit) or Atlanta (Johnson’s offseason home), to let me know," Johnson said. "I’m looking forward to seeing him work with some ringside passes."
6 SETH ROLLINS IS AN ATHEIST
Seth Rollins has publicly declared himself an atheist since he was a teenager in Davenport, Iowa. However, a fan wrongly proclaimed on social media that Rollins was agnostic. Rollins immediately responded via Twitter to erase any confusion about his stance.
“@Rmdull72 and @eternallordzer0 nope, not agnostic. 100 percent atheist. Disbeliever all the way,” tweeted Rollins.
Somewhat ironically, in stark contrast to Rollins, Roman Reigns is a devout Roman Catholic.
“You don’t really hear it enough, but I got to thank God for everything,” said Reigns. “I feel really blessed with the opportunities. I feel it was just completely God-sent, and a bucket list check-off for me.”
One has to wonder if Rollins and Reigns constantly engaged in religious debates during their time traveling together as members of The Shield.
5 DEAN AMBROSE AND RENEE YOUNG HAVE BOTH BEEN THE VICTIMS OF STALKING
Dean Ambrose and Renee Young got married on April 9. Frighteningly, both before and after exchanging vows, Ambrose and Young have been menaced by stalkers.
“Without going into too much detail, I’ve been stalked on the phone and at my home and in hotels, to the point where it’s a little ‘Single White Female’ scary, though I’m pretty sure I’m not gonna get beaten up and kidnapped by a 15-year-old girl,” said Ambrose. “I’ve been stalked fairly regularly for the last two years. I have to go to great lengths to keep that s*** at bay.”
Although Young’s stalking experiences seemingly pale in seriousness to her husband’s, she receives plenty of online heat.
“I get many a death threat,” said Young. “Well, I mean, there’s a lot of anti–Renee Young pages out there.”
4 ROMAN REIGNS PLAYED IN THE CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE
After failing to secure a spot in the NFL Roman Reigns agreed to compete for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League in 2008. In five games as an Eskimo, Reigns recorded only nine tackles and was released later that season. Fatefully, although the “Big Dog” had been considering a move to the squared circle, Edmonton’s decision encouraged Reigns to retire from football and pursue a career as a rassler.
““I tried to find that NFL team … you’re always searching, you’re looking for that team, that team that’s going to change your life. For me, WWE was my team. It just took me a while to find that and to realize it, but they’ve always been there since the day I was born.” Reigns told the Edmonton Sun in March 2016.
Roughly two years after getting axed by the Eskimos, Reigns debuted as a professional wrestler in August 2010.
3 SETH ROLLINS IS A CROSSFIT FANATIC
Seth Rollins has been a gym rat since the early 2000s. However, Rollins strictly focused on standard aerobic and anaerobic exercises. Rollins’ entire workout regimen was altered earlier this decade when he discovered the training-and-lifestyle phenomenon called CrossFit.
“For me, there's no other way to train these days,” said Rollins.
“I love the intensity. I think that’s the one thing that separates me from a lot of the other guys in our regimen. I train with intensity and focus. There’s never a day where I’m going through the motions. If I’m doing that, I may as well be taking a day off. And for me, CrossFit takes all the elements of fitness that I want to focus on and mashes them into an intense workout. That helps me stay on track and have fun at the gym, too, which is a big part of wanting to go in there and putting in the work.”
If Rollins’ meteoric rise in the WWE is any indication, CrossFit has an array of benefits.
2 DEAN AMBROSE IS AN INTENSELY PRIVATE MAN WHO HATES SOCIAL MEDIA
Dean Ambrose joined Twitter in March 2012. Over nearly six years, Ambrose has amassed 532,000 followers. Ambrose has also sent a mere three tweets and his page’s bio reads, “They made me get a twitter.....Fine....Enjoy.” Considering that the “Lunatic Fringe” has been outspoken about his disdain for social media, his scarce use of the online networking site is unsurprising.
“As far as social media and all that, I understand connecting with fans on a different level, but I don’t feel the need to open myself up to the opinion of everybody in the world with a phone or computer,” said Ambrose. “I just don’t get that; being connected to everybody on such a superficial level like that. It’s not really for me.”
Unlike Ambrose, Renee Young loves social media and uses it on a daily basis.
1 SETH ROLLINS HAS HAD Private Pics And Messages Leaked
Seth Rollins proposed to a woman named Leighla Schultz in June 2014 and the couple was preparing to marry. Scandalously, a naked picture of Rollins’ ex-girlfriend, former NXT wrestler Zahra Schreiber, was posted to his Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts and subsequently republished by WWE.com. Shortly thereafter, a shot of Rollins’ reproductive organ was uploaded on Schultz’s Twitter page.
Schultz confirmed that she shared the explicit photographs of Rollins.In an attempt at damage control, Rollins sent a message to the WWE Universe.
“I would like to apologize to all the WWE fans and my family and friends for private photographs that were distributed without my consent,” Rollins tweeted on February 10, 2015.
On top of that, Rollins has also had private messages with a fan leaked, as a fan by the name of Lindsey from Canada, reached out to Rollins via his Instagram DM by sending him a picture and Rollins dared her to send more. You can see their full exchange here.
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