By Irtiza Qasim Awan, Attock
Leati Joseph “Joe” Anoaʻi (born May 25, 1985) is an American professional wrestler and a retired defensive tackle in Canadian football. Anoaʻi is signed to WWE, where he performs under the ring name Roman Reigns. A member of the Anoaʻi family, a renowned Samoan-American wrestling dynasty.
Reigns initially pursued a career in professional football, having played the sport since high school. He had brief off-season stints with the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars in 2007. Reigns then turned to the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos in 2008, playing a season before his release and retirement from football.
Anoaʻi played football throughout high school, three years at Pensacola Catholic High School and one year at Escambia High School. During this time, 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. At the Georgia Institute of Technology, Anoaʻi studied management. He was a three-year starter beginning in his sophomore year and team captain, and in 2006 was named first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference as a senior. He made twenty-nine tackles for loss, including twelve sacks, the thirteenth best record in Georgia Tech’s history.
After going undrafted in the 2007 NFL Draft, Reign was signed by the Minnesota Vikings in May 2007, but the Vikings released him within that month. Then the Jacksonville Jaguars signed him in August 2007, only to release Anoa’i less than a week later. This was before the 2007 NFL season began in September 2007.
In 2008, Anoaʻi was signed by the Edmonton Eskimos. Wearing the number 99, Anoaʻi played for one season with the Eskimos, featuring in five games, of which he started three. Anoa’i’s “biggest game” was described to have come against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in September, where he tied for the team lead with five tackles and a forced fumble. The Eskimos released A’noai on November 10, 2008, ending his stint of under a year.
In July 2010, Anoaʻi signed a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and was later assigned to their developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW). He debuted on September 9, 2010, using the ring name Roman Leakee, in a loss to Richi Steamboat in a singles match, before he gained his first win on September 21 over Fahd Rakman. He continued competing in FCW throughout the remainder of the year, wrestling mainly in tag team matches. Later in 2011, Leakee formed an alliance with Donny Marlow and the pair unsuccessfully challenged Calvin Raines and Big E Langston for the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship on July 8.
When WWE rebranded FCW as NXT Wrestling, Anoaʻi, with the new ring name of Roman Reigns, made his NXT debut on the October 31, 2012, episode, defeating CJ Parker. Reigns made his main roster television debut on November 18, 2012, at the Survivor Series pay-per-view 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 part of the trio, Reigns was a one-time WWE Tag Team Champion with Rollins. He also equaled the record for most eliminations in a Survivor Series elimination match with four in the 2013 match, and set the record for most eliminations in a Royal Rumble match with 12 at the 2014 match. After moving into singles competition in 2014, Reigns won the 2014 Superstar of the Year Slammy Award and the2015 Royal Rumble match. He has headlined multiple pay-per-view events for WWE, including WrestleMania 31.
The Roman Reigns character was established by WWE as the “powerhouse” and “heavy hitter” of the Shield, as well as an “exceptional athlete”. Noted as the least talkative of the Shield members, in mid-2013, Reigns’ character was tweaked from “the quiet muscle who was given one or two lines” to being “ultra-confident”, only needing “a few words to make his point” and a source of leadership with “quiet strength”. CM Punk later revealed that he was constantly reminded to make Reigns look “really, really strong” in the match at the December 2013 TLC event, despite the Shield being scripted to lose. Reigns was awarded the 2013 “Most Improved” Wrestling Observer Newsletter award. When the 2014 Royal Rumble match came down to only Reigns and Batista, Reigns was cheered despite having been a villainous character for more than a year. Reigns later acknowledged the match with its “extremely vocal” audience reaction as a “cool situation” and a “surreal moment”. In mid-2014, Stone Cold Steve Austin said that he saw great potential in Anoaʻi, while David Shoemaker of Grantland wrote that Anoaʻi had “mystery and intensity”, as well as “superstar written all over him”.
Anoaʻi is half-Samoan and half-Italian. Both his father, Sika Anoaʻi|Sika, and his brother, Rosey, are professional wrestlers. As a member of the Anoaʻi family, he is a cousin to fellow professional wrestlers Yokozuna, Rikishi, Umaga, The Tonga Kid, first cousin once-removed to The Usos and (although not related by birth) Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Anoaʻi married Galina Joelle Becker in early December 2014. He has a daughter, with whom he appeared in a public service announcement in June 2014.
Corner Clothesline, Leaping Clothesline, Running Front Dropkick, Samoan Drop, Superman Punch, Tilt-a-Whirl Slam
Moment of Silence, Spear, Checkmate (Spinning bulldog)
Birth Name Leati Joseph Anoaʻi
Born May 25, 1985 (age 30), Pensacola, Florida, United States
Resides Tampa, Florida, United States
Alma Mater Georgia Institute of Technology
Ring Name Joe Anoaʻi, Roman Leakee, Roman Reigns
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight 265 lb (120 kg)