If there was any doubt whether Roman Reigns is being tapped as the "Next Big Thing" in WWE, one only has to read to recent articles in the Boston Herald and Washington Post to see how the 28-year-old's accomplishments in his short career, pedigree and outlook on his own future paint the picture. Reigns spoke to both publications about his lineage (the papers traced his father, Sika, and several of his cousins The Rock, the Usos, Rikishi and Yokozuna) and how that gave him perspective.
"My whole life I've been fed by the WWE," Reigns told the Herald. "My father was fortunate enough to provide for his family through wrestling. I've always been fortunate to have a seat at the table, but there's a great deal of pride in being a provider. Now it's my chance to sit at the head of the table."
But Reigns is also acutely aware that he is not being typecast in the same way that the majority of his family has been. While his father was one-half of the Wild Samoans, the Usos do a traditional Samoan dance as part of their entrance and Umaga was portrayed as an uncontrollable Samoan monster, Reigns has no visible characterizations that point to his ethnicity.
"It was a process. Of course, immediately the thought was: 'He's Samoan, so let's run with that,' Reigns told the Post. "But then I think they saw my personality, being more of a cultured guy, going to college, playing ball, things like that, just the kind of guy I am, you know, just be me don't try and focus on a nationality or an ethnicity or anything like that. Just be myself."
The Herald also touched on Reigns' membership in the most dominant faction in years, the Shield. Reigns called Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins more than friends, referring to them as "brothers," and remarked at how quickly they gelled.
"We didn't know we would complement each other so well," he said. "Everything from what we wear, entering through the crowd, even the triple powerbomb in itself, it's clicked and been so organic. That's been the most exciting part."
But despite being part of a dominant team, Reigns still has his sights set on singles stardom, which he said should be the goal of every wrestler. He also plugged the superstars who wrestle year-round as the ones who carry the promotion on their backs and are looking to take the next step.
"Somebody just asked me if I would like to take on the Undertaker and beat his (WrestleMania) streak," he told the Herald. "I would rather retain the WWE world heavyweight championship while taking out the streak." "It's Mania first," Reigns said to the Post. "We want to get there the right way, and we want to just tear the house down. We wanna burn it down, put cracks in the wall, just demolish that place and have an awesome match. "As far as the next day? There's going to be some gaps. There are going to be a bunch of big names that are gonna compete and then not be there on Monday. That's when guys like myself, the rest of the Shield, Cesaro, the Usos ... there's a bunch of guys who want this and are willing to work every single day. If I'm a fan of the WWE, I would feel safe to know that your entertainment is in the right hands."
There's an interesting dynamic in these comments. Being a second-generation superstar, Reigns is respectful of the old hands still kicking around, but he is also hungry enough to want to start taking people's spots. The comment about the day after WrestleMania is especially interesting given some of the names that fit the bill. Still, it's a sentiment many fans agree with. If WWE continues to book him properly, he's going to be holding a Big Gold Belt at some point in the near future. This could be a really fun ride to the top to go along with Reigns on, much like it was in the late 90s with The Rock.
Scott is a former journalist and longtime wrestling fan who was smart enough to abandon WCW during the Monday Night Wars the same time as the Radicalz. He fortunately became a fan in time for WrestleMania III and came back as a fan after a long high school hiatus before WM XIV. Monday nights in the Carlson household are reserved for viewing Raw -- for better or worse.