Ranking Roman Reigns’ 10 Best WWE Singles Matches Ever
Roman Reigns celebrates his 35th birthday Monday, and he has already amassed a resume that cements his status as one of the top WWE stars of his generation.
The heir apparent to John Cena, The Big Dog's career has rarely been easy but it has always been interesting. Whether it was overcoming mostly negative reactions early in his singles run, kicking cancer's ass or headlining four consecutive WrestleManias, he has consistently been at the forefront of the company.
In the process, he has been a significant part of some of WWE's best and most memorable matches.
With uncertainty surrounding his in-ring return date as he opts to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic, relive the matches that have defined Reigns since his singles run began with the demise of The Shield in 2014.
From championship encounters to hard-hitting grudge matches, these 10 performances are proof that Reigns remains one of the standard-bearers for WWE.
10. Fastlane 2016 vs. Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar
Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar were no strangers to each other when they took to the ring for the main event of Fastlane in a Triple Threat match that would determine the No. 1 contender to Triple H’s WWE Championship at WrestleMania 32.
Though the outcome was considered a sure thing, the performers involved took fans on a roller-coaster ride that saw The Big Dog and The Lunatic Fringe pair up on Lesnar, monetarily eliminating The Beast Incarnate from the equation with a double powerbomb through a table.
From there, the hungry and determined babyfaces squared off. Ambrose nearly scored the pin off Dirty Deeds, but his momentum came to a crashing halt with the rise of Lesnar.
The Beast re-entered the match and applied the kimura on Reigns, only for a wild Ambrose to unload with chair shots to both men. Despite being on the defensive so late in the contest, The Big Dog recovered and delivered the spear to his friend for the win.
The psychology behind the match made sense, Ambrose and Reigns demonstrated some strong in-ring chemistry and Lesnar returning late as the pissed-off monster was a nice touch.
All rendered this bout a forgotten gem from an era in which it was cooler to boo him than to accept how much work he was putting in to justify his spot in the company.
9. Battleground 2016 vs. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose
The Shield exploded in the main event of Battleground 2016 as new WWE champion Dean Ambrose defended against Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns in a Triple Threat match.
Rollins and Ambrose teamed up to down Reigns momentarily before The Architect brought that partnership to an end, courtesy of a steel chair. The Big Dog reappeared and was rolling late, answering Rollins’ buckle bomb with a Superman Punch that might have earned him the win on any other night.
On this one, though, it was all about establishing Ambrose’s championship run.
Reigns staggered out of downing Rollins and right into Dirty Deeds as The Lunatic Fringe picked up the win.
The match was very good for the 18-minute sprint that it was but probably should have been even better given the talent involved. Given then wealth of history to pull from within The Shield, it was somewhat disappointing that they did not feature it more prominently but given the time constraints, it is understandable.
This was also a rare case of Reigns eating a clean pinfall, which was almost certainly management’s response to a recently failed Wellness Policy test.
8. Extreme Rules 2017 vs. Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt, Seth Rollins and Samoa Joe
The Fatal 5-Way main event at Extreme Rules between Reigns, Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt, Samoa Joe and Seth Rollins was a wild, chaotic and action-packed main event that maximized its 28 minutes and showcased the talents of all involved.
There were broken tables, dramatic near-falls and a barrage of finishers late in the match.
It was Balor delivering the Coup de Grace to Reigns that appeared to close things out, but Joe to reappeared from out of nowhere and put the former universal champion to sleep with the Coquina Clutch for the submission win.
Reigns brought a ton of heat to the match and helped elevate the other three Superstars by proxy, as he has done throughout his career.
The frenetic pace of the contest gave way to an explosive finish, with Reigns at the center of it, providing the drama only he can. It is one of his more underrated traits as a performer, no matter how many try to downplay his effectiveness as the top star in the industry.
7. Royal Rumble 2017 vs. Kevin Owens
Chris Jericho had been a thorn in the side of Reigns and Seth Rollins late in 2016 and regularly cost them opportunities to dethrone Kevin Owens as universal champion.
At the Royal Rumble in January 2017, Reigns would get one last shot at The Prizefighter, this time with Y2J suspended above the ring in a shark cage.
Jericho would still get involved, though, and dropped a pair of brass knuckles to KO, but Reigns fought on. A Samoan Drop to Owens, onto a single steel chair, preceded the champion’s bump onto a pile of them later in the match.
Owens delivered a big frog splash off the top rope, driving The Big Dog through a table at ringside.
Ultimately, Braun Strowman would get involved and cost Reigns the match, but up to that point, it had been an appropriately wild brawl with the only complaint being that it could have stood to lose a few minutes.
6. SmackDown, August 13, 2019 vs. Buddy Murphy
The August 13, 2019 episode of SmackDown was a fairly run-of-the-mill show but right in the middle of it was a phenomenal match that reminded fans of how good Reigns is and how giving he can be to his opponent.
That night, the man across the ring from him was Buddy Murphy, the supremely talented, former cruiserweight champion who desperately needed a push. He got it, running move-for-move with Reigns while captivating the audience with perfectly timed spots and dramatic near-falls.
Despite the onslaught from Murphy, including a picture-perfect plancha to Reigns on the floor, it was The Big Dog who blasted the Australian with a Superman Punch at ringside and turned him inside out with a Spear for the win.
It felt like forever since Reigns had the opportunity for that sort of match on television.
5. No Mercy 2017 vs. John Cena
The biggest Superstar in WWE from one generation battled the biggest from the latest at No Mercy 2017 as John Cena squared off with Reigns.
After weeks of superb promo work to get them there, the two performers delivered a dramatic bout that overcame a slow start to deliver in spades.
The back-and-forth action, which saw Reigns survive an STF and Cena counter a Superman Punch into the Attitude Adjustment for a dramatic near-fall, built until the veteran delivered a top-rope AA that again failed to defeat The Big Dog.
A frustrated Cena, seeing his status as the lead dog flashing before his eyes, delivered two more AAs but still couldn't put his opponent down.
Reigns responded with a Superman Punch and Spear to pin Cena cleanly in the center of the ring and earn his biggest win to that point.
How management justified booking this match on a C-level pay-per-view rather than WrestleMania or SummerSlam is a mystery, but this was everything you would want out of a ‘Mania headliner and then some.
4. Fastlane 2015 vs. Daniel Bryan
One month after Philadelphia fans greeted Reigns’ win in the Royal Rumble with a chorus of boos, The Big Dog entered Fastlane with one objective: defeat Daniel Bryan and exorcise the final demon on his road to WrestleMania.
Fans desperately wanted Bryan to get one more run at the WWE title at The Show of Shows, particularly after his magical run a year earlier had been cut short by a neck injury. They were annoyed that Reigns was being given the rocket push when they felt his opponent deserved it more.
In the main event of the February 2015 pay-per-view, Reigns would have to earn his spot in the main event of wrestling’s biggest show by defeating Bryan.
The Big Dog did just that after surviving the Yes Lock and catching Bryan with a Spear to secure the win.
3. WrestleMania 31 vs. Brock Lesnar
Reigns entered WrestleMania 31 the favorite to leave with the WWE Championship, but he quickly discovered the punishing reality of squaring off with Brock Lesnar.
The Big Dog found himself ragdolled around the ring for the majority of the match. The one-sided main event of wrestling’s biggest night appeared to be another blowout win for Lesnar until Reigns sparked a babyface comeback and had his opponent reeling.
But just as it appeared the second-generation star might leave with the title, Seth Rollins rushed the ring and cashed in his Money in the Bank contract, making it a Triple Threat.
History tells us The Architect would go on to capture the title by pinning Reigns and ruining his dream of leaving The Showcase of the Immortals with the gold.
While the cash-in is the most memorable moment of the contest and one of the greatest in WrestleMania history, what preceded it was a phenomenal match that told the story of a dominant champion’s own arrogance coming back to bite him and a resilient challenger driven by the desire to achieve greatness.
The timing made the bout the classic it became, thanks to the performers’ ability to manipulate the crowd and pop them at just the right time.
2. Extreme Rules 2016 vs. AJ Styles
Reigns was fresh off defeating Triple H at WrestleMania 32 and winning the WWE Championship when he ran into the hottest star in WWE, a newcomer whose arrival had sparked genuine excitement: AJ Styles.
The Big Dog fought valiantly through a knee injury after Styles clipped his leg out from under him and suplexed him into the corner. Reigns recovered and answered by powerbombing The Phenomenal One through one of the announce tables as the battle for Raw supremacy continued.
Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows interfered, leading to an appearance from The Usos as the match neared its conclusion. A cool reversal of the Spear into the Styles Clash nearly spelled the end of Reigns’ run as champion, but he survived it and a barrage of steel chair shots to catch Styles in mid-flight with the Spear for the win.
It was a superb match that further established Reigns’ championship status and gave Styles his first taste of a WWE main event.
1. SummerSlam 2017 vs. Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar
Take the four biggest badasses in wrestling, put them together in the main event of SummerSlam with the Universal Championship up for grabs, and let them beat the unholy hell out of each other.
It's a formula that worked wonders for WWE as Reigns, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar tore the house down in Brooklyn.
The Big Dog delivered a Spear to Lesnar, driving him through the timekeeper position. Strowman powerslammed The Beast through two announce tables and sent him packing on a stretcher. The sign of dominance elicited a massive ovation for The Monster Among Men and gave WWE officials a taste of what they had in him.
The Beast eventually came back as all hell broke loose in this masterfully assembled car wreck of a match. Despite his injuries, he managed to turn Reigns’ last-gasp Spear into an F-5 to retain his title.
It was a gloriously wild match that properly showcased the talents of those involved while presenting Lesnar and Strowman as unstoppable monsters.
Just three years later, it's a shame Strowman has become something of a caricature because Reigns, Joe and Lesnar all put in a ton of work to build his credibility.
This was another loss for The Big Dog, something that is conveniently left out of the discussion when fans criticize him for being overpushed. The guy loses more than any other star in his position ever, all in the name of making Lesnar look more unstoppable or putting others over so he has genuine stars to work with.