Chronicling Roman Reigns' Rise from Backup Muscle to Breakout Star

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2014

Leati Joseph
Mel Evans/Associated Press

Roman Reigns is poised to be the breakout star of The Shield, but when he first showed up he was not looked at as the top prospect from the trio.

When The Shield debuted it seemed as if Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins were the ones who were destined for glory, and Reigns was just there to hit the power moves and provide backup in rough situations.

The triple powerbomb certainly allowed Reigns to show his strength right from the get-go, but it was Rollins who was the technician and Ambrose who spun gold on the mic.

But now it's all about Roman Reigns. He seems like the one destined for a main event push the minute he is out of the group, and he is the one who the fans are chanting for.

You know you have something special when one member of a heel stable gets cheered and his name is chanted by everyone in the arena, and it's been one hell of an interesting story to watch unfold.

The Debut

Reigns debuted with Rollins and Ambrose at Survivor Series 2012 when he came out and cost Ryback the WWE Championship, putting him through the announce table with The Shield's now signature triple powerbomb.

At first it seemed like they were hired goons whose job it was to protect CM Punk, but eventually it became clear that this group was in it for themselves.

They defeated Ryback and Team Hell No in their first match, which happened in the signature TLC match the following month.

It became clear really fast that Reigns was not a big talker. Seth Rollins would give a few lines in each promo, but it was Dean Ambrose who carried the group with his silver tongue.

Thought of as the weak link and just there to add some muscle must have annoyed Reigns, because he clearly found the motivation to make big improvements in his weakest areas.

The Shield continued their winning ways for months, putting down various groups of WWE's top stars at every turn.

Within their first six months they held victories over John Cena, Sheamus, Ryback, Chris Jericho, Kane, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton and The Undertaker. They were even the guys who took out The Undertaker and had him written off television.

Reigns was riding high with his partners, and he continued to pay attention to all the big names he was in the ring with to learn this business from them.

Tag Team Champion

At Extreme Rules 2013, Reigns and Rollins defeated Team Hell No to win the Tag Team Championship. Ambrose had already won the U.S. title, and that made them a stable of champions.

Rollins would do most of the heavy lifting during the matches but was clearly beginning to show the signs of a future star.

He was contributing more in promos, trying new things in the ring and making sure everyone knew exactly who it was who was powerbombing everyone in sight.

Reigns lasted all the way until September of 2013 before being pinned in a WWE ring. This 10-month reign of dominance did not go unnoticed.

As champions, Reigns and Rollins defeated The Prime Time Players, Team Hell No, Orton and Bryan and The Usos on multiple occasions.

The tag team division was rebuilt during their reign, and now we are flush with tag teams that can make very fun shows for everyone.

They lost the titles to Cody Rhodes and Goldust after a lengthy run and were unable to recapture them in a Triple Threat tag match at Hell in a Cell.

The Push

Reigns really began to show signs of being the breakout star at Survivor Series 2013. The event that marked their one-year anniversary saw Reigns as the sole survivor for his team, tying the record for most eliminations at four.

His next big solo victory came at Old School Raw when he defeated CM Punk, becoming the only member of The Shield to do so in a singles match.

The Royal Rumble is where we saw Reigns put himself in the history books. He threw 12 men out of the match to beat Kane's record for most eliminations, and he was the last man eliminated in a decision that nearly saw the fans riot in protest.

Reigns' name was being chanted by thousands of fans, and while some of that was a desire to see anyone but Batista win, many of the fans were chanting for the man who dominated the majority of the match.

He even threw out his own teammates after Ambrose tried to eliminate him first, getting a huge pop from the crowd in the process. And that's not the only time "Reigns" has been chanted by the WWE Universe.

Reigns has had more big moments in his first 15 months than some of the more tenured wrestlers on the roster have had. He has beaten the biggest stars in the company in various matches, held a title and set records.

These past few months have not only been about the memorable moments for the big man; they have also been the time where we have seen Reigns flourish into someone who could be a top star.

His mic work has vastly improved, and his versatility in the ring has been highlighted by continuing to add new moves to his arsenal.

Usually we have to watch a Superstar for several years to see them climb the ranks of WWE, but Reigns has been on track to be a top star for some time now, and he has done it in a shorter amount of time than the majority of the people in that position now.

The Shield Beginning to Crack

Reigns and Ambrose have been at odds recently. It seemed to start the night Ambrose volunteered for a match where CM Punk was asking to take on the best member of the group.

Then the Rumble happened, and it became clear that we were seeing the beginning of the end for the group than walked all over the best on the roster for over a year.

Their feud with The Wyatt Family will come to a head at Elimination Chamber. How that match plays out could be a sign of where Reigns is heading.

His Spear has become one of the most brutal finishers in WWE, and having a great finisher is a big part of getting over with the crowd.

Roman Reigns went from being the guy who a lot of people overlooked to being the guy everyone is talking about. The possibilities seem endless for this third-generation star.

What do you think? Is Roman Reigns the next big thing in WWE, or is he an overhyped legacy from the Anoa'i family?

Thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter @BR_Doctor.


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