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|Born||Leati Joseph Anoa|
May 25, 1985 (age 34)
|Spouse||Galina Becker (m. 2014)|
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Leati Joseph "Joe" Anoaʻi (born May 25, 1985) is an American professional wrestler, actor, and former professional gridiron football player. He is part of the Anoaʻi family and is currently signed to WWE as a member of the SmackDown brand under the ring name Roman Reigns.
After playing college football for Georgia Tech, Anoaʻi started his professional football career with brief off-season stints with the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL) in 2007. He then played a full season for the Canadian Football League's (CFL) Edmonton Eskimos in 2008 before his release and retirement from football. He then pursued a career in professional wrestling and was signed by WWE in 2010, reporting to their developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW). As Roman Reigns, he made his main roster debut in November 2012 alongside Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins as The Shield. The trio teamed together until June 2014, after which Reigns entered singles competition.
Reigns is a four-time world champion in WWE, having held the WWE Championship three times and the Universal Championship once. He is also a one-time United States Champion, a one-time Intercontinental Champion, a one-time WWE Tag Team Champion (with Rollins), the 2015 Royal Rumble winner, and the 2014 Superstar of the Year. He tied the WWE record for most eliminations in a Survivor Series elimination match with four in the 2013 event and set the then-record for most eliminations in a Royal Rumble match with 12 in the 2014 event. Upon winning the Intercontinental Championship, he became the twenty-eighth Triple Crown Champion and the seventeenth Grand Slam Champion.
Since 2014, WWE has attempted to establish Reigns as their next "face of the company", which has been met with audience disapproval. Reigns has headlined numerous WWE pay-per-view events, including four straight WrestleManias (31, 32, 33 and 34).
Anoaʻi played football for three years at Pensacola Catholic High School and one year at Escambia High School. In his senior year, he was named Defensive Player of the Year by the Pensacola News Journal. He then attended Georgia Institute of Technology, where he was a member of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football team along with Calvin Johnson, who later became a wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL). Anoaʻi was a three-year starter beginning in his sophomore year and was also one of the team captains as a senior. Anoaʻi was named to the first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in 2006 and earned All-ACC first-team honors with 40 tackles, two recovered fumbles and 4.5 sacks.
After going undrafted in the 2007 NFL draft, Anoaʻi was signed by the Minnesota Vikings in May 2007. He was diagnosed with leukemia after his team physical and was released later that month. The Jacksonville Jaguars signed him in August 2007, only to release Anoaʻi less than a week later before the start of the 2007 NFL season.
In 2008, Anoaʻi was signed by the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League (CFL). Wearing the number 99, Anoaʻi played for one season with the Eskimos, featuring in five games, of which he started three. Anoaʻi's most notable game came against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in September, where he tied for the team lead with five tackles and had a forced fumble. Anoaʻi was released by the Eskimos on November 10, and proceeded to retire from professional football.
Professional wrestling career
World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE
Developmental territories (2010–2012)
Anoaʻi signed a contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in 2010 and was later assigned to their developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW). He made his televised debut on August 19, 2010, using the ring name Roman Leakee, in a 15-man battle royal, which was won by Alex Riley. On the January 16, 2011 episode of FCW television, Leakee was a competitor in a 30-man Grand Royal, but was eliminated. Later in 2011, Leakee formed a tag team with Donny Marlow and the pair unsuccessfully challenged Calvin Raines and Big E Langston for the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship on July 8.
In January 2012, Leakee pinned FCW Florida Heavyweight Champion Leo Kruger. On the February 5 episode of FCW television, he defeated Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins in a triple threat match to become the number one contender to the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship. He failed to win the championship when he lost to then champion Kruger the following week. Leakee later won the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship with Mike Dalton and would drop the titles to CJ Parker and Jason Jordan shortly after.
After WWE rebranded FCW to NXT in August 2012, Anoaʻi, with the new ring name of Roman Reigns and a villain character, made his debut on the October 31 episode of NXT by defeating CJ Parker.
The Shield (2012–2014)
Roman Reigns made his main roster television debut as on November 18, 2012 at Survivor Series alongside Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, assaulting Ryback during the triple threat main event for the WWE Championship, allowing CM Punk to retain the title. The trio declared themselves The Shield and vowed to rally against "injustice", while also denying working for Punk, even though they would routinely emerge from the crowd to attack Punk's adversaries, including Ryback and WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane). This led to a six-man tag team Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs on December 16, in which Reigns, Ambrose and Rollins defeated Team Hell No and Ryback in their debut match. The Shield continued to aid Punk in January 2013, attacking both Ryback and The Rock. On the January 28 episode of Raw, it was revealed that Punk and his manager Paul Heyman had been paying The Shield and Brad Maddox to work for them.
The Shield then indistinctly ended their association with Punk while beginning a feud with John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus that directed to a six-man tag match on February 17 at Elimination Chamber, which The Shield won. The Shield then made their WrestleMania debut, where they defeated Sheamus, Randy Orton and Big Show at WrestleMania 29 in April. The following night on Raw, The Shield attempted to attack The Undertaker, but they were stopped by Team Hell No. This set up a six-man tag team match on the April 22 episode of Raw, which The Shield won. On the May 13 episode of Raw, The Shield's undefeated streak in televised six-man tag team matches ended in a disqualification loss in an elimination tag team match against Cena, Kane and Bryan.
On May 19 at Extreme Rules, Reigns and Rollins defeated Team Hell No in a tornado tag team match to win the WWE Tag Team Championship. On the June 14 episode of SmackDown, The Shield's unpinned/unsubmitted streak in televised six-man tag team matches came to an end at the hands of Team Hell No and Randy Orton, when Bryan submitted Rollins. Reigns and Rollins defeated Bryan and Orton at Payback to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship. Further successful title defenses followed against The Usos at Money in the Bank and The Prime Time Players (Darren Young and Titus O'Neil) at Night of Champions.
In August, The Shield began working for chief operating officer Triple H and The Authority. On the October 14 episode of Raw, Reigns and Rollins lost the WWE Tag Team Championship to Cody Rhodes and Goldust in a no disqualification match, following interference from Big Show. At Hell in a Cell on October 27, Reigns and Rollins failed to regain the tag team title in a triple threat tag team match. The first seeds of dissension were sown in The Shield (especially between Ambrose and Reigns) with Ambrose's boasting of being the only member left with a championship. At Survivor Series on November 24, Reigns was the sole survivor for his team in the traditional five-on-five elimination tag team match after eliminating four opponents. At TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs on December 15, The Shield were defeated by CM Punk in a 3-on-1 handicap match, after Reigns accidentally speared Ambrose, allowing him to be pinned. On January 26, 2014, Reigns entered the Royal Rumble match at number 15 and set the then-record for most eliminations in a single Royal Rumble with 12, as he eliminated both his Shield teammates, and was the runner-up in the match after being eliminated by Batista. The next night on Raw, The Shield competed in a six-man tag team match against Daniel Bryan, Sheamus and John Cena, with all three members of the winning team qualifying for the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, which The Shield lost via disqualification after The Wyatt Family interfered and attacked Cena, Bryan and Sheamus. A six-man tag team match pitting The Shield against The Wyatt Family on February 24 at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view was arranged, in which The Shield lost after Ambrose abandoned the match mid-way through, creating further tension between the team.
In March, The Shield came out to seemingly attack Jerry Lawler, only to attack Kane instead, turning all three men into fan favorites in the process. Over the next few weeks, The Shield continued exchanging assaults with Kane, who was joined by The New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn and Road Dogg), leading to a match between the two teams on April 6 at WrestleMania XXX, which The Shield won. The feud with Kane also prompted The Shield to sever ties with Triple H, who reformed Evolution to counter them. The Shield then defeated Evolution at both Extreme Rules on May 4 and Payback on June 1. The following night on Raw, Triple H initiated his "plan B" which involved Rollins turning on The Shield and aligning himself with Triple H and The Authority.
Controversial rise to main event status (2014–2015)
Following Rollins's betrayal, Reigns would briefly continue teaming with Ambrose, before embarking on a singles run and being quickly placed into world title contention. After winning a battle royal, Reigns was inserted into a ladder match for the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Money in the Bank, but failed to win the title during the main event match. His second consecutive pay-per-view main event was at Battleground in July, where Reigns again unsuccessfully challenged for the title, this time in a fatal four-way match (also involving Kane, Randy Orton and defending champion John Cena). Following the event, Reigns began a feud with Orton, culminating in a match at SummerSlam in August, which Reigns won.
The next month, a singles match was set up between Reigns and Rollins for Night of Champions on September 21, but Reigns developed a legit incarcerated hernia which required surgery prior to Night of Champions and, as a result, Rollins was declared the winner via forfeit, while Reigns was ruled out of action indefinitely. Reigns returned to WWE television on the December 8 episode of Raw, accepting the 2014 "Superstar of the Year" Slammy Award. On December 14 at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, when Big Show interfered in John Cena's match against Seth Rollins, Reigns attacked both Big Show and Rollins, helping Cena win. This started a feud between Reigns and Big Show, in which Reigns defeated him multiple times by countout and disqualification. On January 25, 2015, Reigns, entering at number 19, won the 2015 Royal Rumble match by single-handedly eliminating the final three competitors: Big Show, Kane and lastly Rusev. After doing so, Reigns was booed heavily by the crowd, despite portraying a heroic character. On the February 2 episode of Raw, Reigns suffered his first pinfall loss in a singles match on the main roster when Big Show defeated him after interference from Rollins. Reigns was then forced to defend his WrestleMania title shot against Daniel Bryan in the main event of Fastlane on February 22 and succeeded in doing so after beating Bryan via pinfall. On March 29 at WrestleMania 31, Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract while Reigns's main event match with Brock Lesnar was in progress, turning it into a triple threat, which Reigns lost when he was pinned by Rollins.
In April, Reigns re-ignited his feud with Big Show, which culminated on April 26 in a Last Man Standing match at Extreme Rules, where Reigns defeated Show. On May 17 at Payback, Reigns once again failed to win the world title from Rollins in a fatal four-way main event that also involved Orton and Ambrose. On June 14 at Money in the Bank, Reigns competed in the Money in the Bank ladder match, which he failed to win after Bray Wyatt interfered and attacked him. On July 17 at Battleground, Wyatt defeated Reigns after former Wyatt Family member Luke Harper attacked Reigns. On the August 6 episode of SmackDown, Wyatt accepted Reigns's challenge to a tag team match at SummerSlam, with Reigns and Ambrose facing Wyatt and Harper. Reigns pinned Wyatt at the event on August 23 and the following night on Raw in a rematch, which ended via disqualification after Reigns and Ambrose were attacked by Wyatt's new ally, the debuting Braun Strowman. On September 20 at Night of Champions, Reigns and Ambrose teamed with Chris Jericho, but were defeated by Wyatt, Harper and Strowman. The feud between Reigns and Wyatt ended after their Hell in a Cell match at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view event on October 25, in which Reigns was victorious.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion (2015–2016)
On the October 26 episode of Raw, Reigns won a fatal four-way match (also involving Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler and Kevin Owens) to become the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. However, then champion Seth Rollins legitimately injured his knee on November 4 and vacated the title the following day, which led to a tournament to crown a new champion. Reigns defeated Big Show in the first round, Cesaro in the quarterfinals, Alberto Del Rio in the semifinals and Dean Ambrose in the finals at Survivor Series on November 22 to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for the first time. Triple H attempted to offer congratulations, but Reigns attacked him with a spear and Sheamus then cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and pinned Reigns, thus ending Reigns's reign at only 5 minutes. On December 13, Reigns failed to regain the title from Sheamus in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs following interference on Sheamus's behalf by fellow League of Nations members Alberto Del Rio and Rusev, but subsequently Reigns would attack the trio and also Triple H, who came out to stop him.
The next night on Raw, Vince McMahon granted Reigns a title rematch against Sheamus (with Reigns's career on the line), which Reigns won after overcoming McMahon, Del Rio and Rusev's interferences to regain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Reigns was then slated to defend his title in the Royal Rumble match on January 24, 2016, where Reigns scored a total of five eliminations after entering first, heading backstage for much of the match after an attack by The League of Nations and was eliminated upon his return by eventual winner Triple H, thus losing the world title and lasting nearly an hour (the longest out of everyone in the match). At Fastlane on February 22, Reigns pinned Dean Ambrose in a triple threat match also involving Brock Lesnar to receive a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match against Triple H at WrestleMania 32 on April 3, where he defeated Triple H in the main event to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion for a third time. For this third world title reign, Reigns had two successful televised title defenses in May against AJ Styles, first at Payback and then Extreme Rules. Right after the Extreme Rules match against Styles at the latter event, Reigns was attacked by a returning Seth Rollins.
At Money in the Bank on June 19, Reigns was defeated by Rollins, marking his first clean loss on the main roster and ending his title reign at 77 days. On June 21, Anoaʻi was suspended for 30 days for his first violation of WWE's Wellness Program and, in response, he apologized on Twitter. WWE's Wellness Program uses drug testing to detect substance abuse. Pro Wrestling Torch and TheWrap reported that WWE knew of Anoaʻi's violation before Money in the Bank, leading to Reigns being scripted to lose his world title at the event.
On July 19 at the 2016 WWE draft, Reigns was drafted to the Raw brand. Despite Reigns's suspension, WWE continued to advertise Reigns as part of the Battleground main event, and went on to acknowledge Reigns's suspension on television. On July 24 at Battleground, Reigns made his televised return, facing Rollins and Dean Ambrose (whom Rollins dropped the title to at Money in the Bank after Ambrose cashed-in his Money in the Bank contract) for the now-renamed WWE Championship, but Ambrose successfully retained the championship when he pinned Reigns. The following night on Raw, Reigns also failed to contend for the newly announced WWE Universal Championship against Rollins at SummerSlam, as he lost to the debuting Finn Bálor after earlier winning a fatal four-way match that involved Chris Jericho, Sami Zayn and Sheamus.
Championship reigns (2016–2018)
In August, Reigns began a feud with United States Champion Rusev, provoking a title match between the two at SummerSlam. At the event on August 21, Reigns and Rusev brawled before the match began, leading to the match being declared a no contest. In a rematch at Clash of Champions in September, Reigns would defeat Rusev to win the United States Championship, and retained the title against Rusev in a Hell in a Cell match at the titular event on October 30 to end their feud. Reigns was later announced as a member for Team Raw in the traditional Survivor Series elimination tag team match on November 20 alongside Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman which Team Raw lost after Reigns was the last man to be eliminated by Bray Wyatt. At Roadblock: End of the Line on December 18, Reigns faced Universal Champion Kevin Owens, but lost via disqualification when Chris Jericho attacked Owens to prevent Reigns from winning the match and the title. On the January 9, 2017 episode of Raw, Reigns lost the United States Championship to Jericho in a handicap match also involving Owens ending his reign at 106 days.
This led to a no disqualification rematch with Owens at the Royal Rumble on January 29 that saw Jericho being suspended above the ring in a shark cage, where Reigns lost after Braun Strowman interfered. Later in the event, Reigns entered at number 30 in the Royal Rumble match, eliminating Bray Wyatt, Chris Jericho and The Undertaker before being last eliminated by Randy Orton. At Fastlane on March 5, Reigns defeated Strowman, giving Strowman his first pinfall loss on the main roster. The following night on Raw, Reigns was chokeslammed by The Undertaker after they both joined forces to attack Strowman. This led to a No Holds Barred match between Reigns and Undertaker at WrestleMania 33 on April 2, which Reigns won in his third consecutive WrestleMania main event. The next night on Raw, Reigns opened the show to ten minutes of severe boos and chants from the crowd, attempting to stop him from speaking, before simply stating "This is my yard now" and leaving the ring. Reigns then resumed his feud with Strowman, after Strowman kayfabe injured Reigns' shoulder. A match was set up between the two at Payback on April 30, which Reigns lost.
Following Strowman's legit elbow injury, Reigns set his sights back on newly Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, which led Raw General Manager Kurt Angle to schedule a Universal Championship number one contender's Extreme Rules fatal five-way match for Extreme Rules on June 4 between Reigns, Bray Wyatt, Finn Bálor, Samoa Joe and Seth Rollins that Reigns failed to win. On the June 19 episode of Raw, Reigns challenged whoever would be the WWE Universal Champion at SummerSlam, but later that night Strowman returned in an ambulance and cost Reigns his match with Joe, before attacking and challenged him to an ambulance match at Great Balls of Fire on July 9. Reigns lost the match at the event, but subsequently attacked and locked Strowman inside the ambulance before driving it into a production truck. At SummerSlam on August 20, Reigns was pinned by Brock Lesnar in a WWE Universal Championship match also involving Strowman and Joe. After a brief feud with John Cena, Reigns defeated him at No Mercy on September 24 and the next night on Raw described it as the biggest win in his career.
In October, due to mutual issues with The Miz, The Miztourage (Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel) and Cesaro and Sheamus, all three members of The Shield eventually decided to reform in order to combat the aforementioned alliance. Reigns was due to team with Rollins and Ambrose at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs on October 22, but over an illness concern Kurt Angle would take his place. At Survivor Series on November 19, The Shield defeated The New Day in a six-man tag team match. The following night on Raw, Reigns defeated The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship, thus becoming the twenty-eighth Triple Crown and seventeenth Grand Slam champion, the second member of The Shield after Ambrose to achieve the Grand Slam. Following his title win, Reigns would successfully defend the title against Elias, Jason Jordan, Cesaro and Samoa Joe before losing it back to The Miz on the 25th Anniversary of Raw on January 22, 2018, ending his reign at 63 days.
Reigns participated in the annual Royal Rumble match at the namesake pay-per-view on January 28, but failed to win the match after being last eliminated by Shinsuke Nakamura. After defeating Bray Wyatt on the February 5 episode of Raw, Reigns qualified for the Elimination Chamber match, which he won, earning the right to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 34. At WrestleMania, Reigns failed to win the championship from Lesnar after suffering six F-5's and bleeding during the course of the match. They had a rematch for the championship at the Greatest Royal Rumble in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, this time inside a steel cage, where Reigns failed to win the title again after spearing Lesnar through the cage and thus accidentally giving the win to Lesnar as he escaped the cage first per the match rules.
After defeating Samoa Joe at Backlash and Jinder Mahal at Money in the Bank, Reigns then entered a feud with Bobby Lashley, where both men believed that they were the rightful challenger to Lesnar's championship. This set up a match at Extreme Rules, where Lashley was victorious. The following night on Raw, two triple threat matches were set to determine Lesnar's challenger for SummerSlam. Reigns and Lashley won their respective matches, setting up a number one contender's match between the two the following week, which Reigns won. At SummerSlam, Reigns successfully defeated Lesnar and won the Universal Championship for the first time in his career, ending Lesnar's title reign at 504 days. Reigns went on to reignite his feud with Braun Strowman, who was the Money in the Bank holder. During the feud, Rollins and Ambrose assisted Reigns to retain the title, so Strowman allied with Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre in order to counter them. Reigns then faced Strowman at Hell in a Cell in the namesake match, which ended in a no contest after Brock Lesnar returned and attacked both men. On October 6 at Super Show-Down, The Shield defeated Strowman, Ziggler and McIntyre in a six-man tag team match before losing to them in a rematch on Raw two nights later.
Anoaʻi is half-Samoan and half-Italian. Both his father Sika Anoaʻi, and his brother Rosey, who died on April 17, 2017, were professional wrestlers. As a member of the Anoaʻi family, he is a cousin to former professional wrestlers Yokozuna, Rikishi, Umaga, who died on December 4, 2009, The Tonga Kid and first cousin once-removed to The Usos and The Rock (non-biological).
Anoaʻi married Galina Joelle Becker in early December 2014. He has a daughter named Joelle, with whom he appeared in a public service announcement in June 2014. His wife gave birth to twin boys in 2016.
At the Georgia Institute of Technology, Anoaʻi majored in management. He is a Roman Catholic and uses the sign of the cross every time he enters the ring.
Anoaʻi considers Bret Hart his wrestling idol.
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