Roman Reigns at 38: 5 defining moments of his iconic WWE career so far (2023)

Happy birthday, Roman Reigns! The man, the myth, the legend, The Big Dog, The Head of The Table, The Tribal Chief himself turns 38 today. Born May 25, 1985, the second-generation WWE Superstar joined the company in 2010 and made his main roster debut in 2012 with The Shield. What has followed has been a career of incredible highs and unbelievable lows, setting records and entertaining millions.

Reigns has distinguished himself as a babyface and heel as well as a singles and tag team competitor. He is a grand slam champion, Royal Rumble winner, seven-time WrestleMania main eventer, and WWE's franchise player. He is arguably in the prime of his career, aiming to celebrate 1000 days as Universal Champion by winning the Undisputed tag team titles at Night Of Champions 2023.

To celebrate his 38th birthday, let's look back at the biggest defining moments of his already Hall Of Fame-worthy career so far:

#5. The Beginning: Roman Reigns debuts in WWE with The Shield

WWE Name The Shield’s 2012 Debut As The Greatest Debut Of ALL TIMEAgree?TOP 5:…

Roman Reigns debuted on the WWE main roster in spectacular fashion, crashing the main event of Survivor Series 2012 with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. The trio from NXT would soon come to be known as The Shield and go on to change the entire industry. They lay waste to legends like John Cena, The Rock, and The Undertaker and established themselves as one of the greatest stables of all time.

The Hounds of Justice lasted less than two years before ending their initial separation, but they did enough to earn a future Hall of Fame group induction. This laid the foundation for Ambrose (Jon Moxley) to win four world titles across WWE and AEW and Rollins to become a four-time world champion in Stamford-based promotion. Roman Reigns? Six-time WWE Champion, with an iconic ongoing nearly 1000-day reign!

#4. Winning the 2015 WWE Royal Rumble was the first major step in Roman Reigns' singles journey to the top

Roman Reigns became one of the most popular stars in WWE due to his time in The Shield, but he met his first major roadblock at the 2015 Royal Rumble. Having been the fan-favorite to win the 30-man battle royal the year before over Batista, he found himself on the other side of the coin a year later.

The crowd only wanted Daniel Bryan to win and booed everyone else, including the ever-beloved Rey Mysterio.

Thus, The Big Dog got the worst of the boos, having earned ire from the fans as management's "Chosen One." Not even aligning with The Rock could save Reigns from the negative reaction raining down on him in Philadelphia.

This began the "polarizing" era of his career but also cemented him as a top star who got a reaction no matter which town he went to.

#3. Roman Reigns wins his first world championship in WWE

Roman Reigns at 38: 5 defining moments of his iconic WWE career so far (1)

Roman Reigns may have won the 2015 Rumble, but he didn't capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 31. Seth Rollins successfully pulled off the Heist of The Century by cashing in the Money In The Bank contract on The Big Dog and Brock Lesnar. Reigns continued chasing the title until Survivor Series 2015, winning it after The Visionary vacated it due to injury.

His joy was short-lived, though, as Mr.McMahon brought out Sheamus to cash in the MITB contract, ending his first reign in 5 minutes and 15 seconds. This made him a world champion and gave him his first taste of gold.

#2. Roman Reigns defeats The Undertaker at WrestleMania 33

"This is my yard now." - @WWERomanReigns (2017)

After his brief first run as world champion, Roman Reigns went about earning his stripes as WWE's next franchise player after John Cena. He had incredible feuds with everyone from Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, and Drew McIntyre back to Brock Lesnar before becoming the Tribal Chief. His most significant opponent was arguably The Undertaker at WrestleMania 33.

He became one of only two men to beat The Phenom at The Show Of Shows in a match that was hampered by his opponent's advanced age. His "Golden Boy" image, coupled with the poor reception of the match quality and result, led to him receiving the most negative reaction of his career on RAW the next night. The crowd booed and insulted him non-stop for ten minutes straight, not letting him speak.

In a moment any heel would dream of, Reigns, who was supposed to be the company's top babyface, said, "This is MY Yard Now!" and left the ring to an even more nuclear shower of boos.

No heel in the business has come close to this reaction ever since. Not Reigns himself, nor AEW's MJF, nor the great Dominik Mysterio himself!

Honorable mentions

Roman Reigns at 38: 5 defining moments of his iconic WWE career so far (2)

Here are some moments that, if they had made this list, would have been deserving of their place on it:

  • Reigns relinquished the Universal title due to Leukemia: The person behind the character won the WWE Universe's respect for his fighting spirit
  • The Big Dog defeats John Cena at No Mercy 2017: Passing of the torch
  • The Shield breaks up: Reigns begins his singles career
  • NXT debut: The night that started it all
  • The Tribal Chief unifies the world titles at WrestleMania 38: The moment that made him the Final Boss of WWE

#1. Roman Reigns becomes The Tribal Chief

.@WWERomanReigns will be new @WWE Universal Champion at #Payback . That's not just a prediction but that's a spoiler @HeymanHustle

Roman Reigns continued to operate as a polarizing babyface until 2020 when he took a four-month break from WWE due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He returned at SummerSlam as a heel, attacking Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman. At Payback, he won the Universal Championship a week later, kicking off a title run for the ages.

Nearly 1000 days later, he has beaten John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Edge, Daniel Bryan, and many more in his legendary reign. He has unified the Universal and WWE titles, led another Hall of Fame-worthy stable, and elevated the likes of Sami Zayn, Solo Sikoa, and Jey Uso to main-event players.

He has become the best thing to happen to the company in two decades, and none of this would be possible without that moment at SummerSlam 2020 when he turned heel and introduced the world to The Tribal Chief.

Vince Russo wants Adam Pearce to be replaced by an injured WWE star. More details here.

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