Roman Reigns’ 8 best matches
The WWE Universe’s feelings about Roman Reigns may be divisive, but anyone who says the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion hasn’t delivered some staggering performances inside the squared circle isn’t looking hard enough. From hard-hitting WrestleMania main events to underrated Raw classics, The Big Dog has faced his fair share of challenges, and these may just be his eight finest hours.
Roman Reigns vs. Big Show — Last Man Standing Match: WWE Extreme Rules 2015
Just weeks after having his WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match at WrestleMania 31 ruined by Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns faced another titanic test at WWE Extreme Rules. The Big Dog stood across the ring from Big Show in a Last Man Standing Match, with many wondering if he could incapacitate The World’s Largest Athlete.
Big Show thwarted Reigns’ early attempts to put him down, smashing a table with his massive fists and snapping a kendo stick over his knee. But Reigns would not be intimidated by the giant. After surviving a KO Punch from Big Show, Reigns recovered and slammed the titan through a table with a huge Samoan Drop. To put The World’s Largest Athlete down for the 10-count, though, Reigns had to get creative. After Spearing Big Show through the Spanish announce table, The Big Dog took the English commentary desk and overturned it, trapping the 450-pounder underneath. The victory proved that though Reigns may get knocked down, there’s nothing that will prevent him from getting back up. — BOBBY MELOK
The Shield & The Real Americans vs. Rey Mysterio, The Usos & The Rhodes Brothers: Survivor Series 2013
The first year of Roman Reigns’ WWE career was full of Six-Man Tag Matches, but at Survivor Series 2013, he gave everyone a preview of his “One Versus All” brand of dominance.
Reigns and Seth Rollins faced a steep 5-2 disadvantage against The Usos, The Rhodes Brothers & Rey Mysterio in a Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match. A pair of Reigns Spears cut the deficit to 3-2, and after Rollins evened the series, Mysterio rolled him up to leave The Big Dog stranded.
Reigns split Goldust like a twig before manhandling Mysterio with another Spear. Four Spears took out four competitors — tying a record set by Aja Kong in 1995 — and Reigns was the only one standing among the wreckage. — JEFF LABOON
The 2014 Royal Rumble Match
The Royal Rumble Match may be the one bout that best defines Roman Reigns. In his three appearances in the over-the-rope melee, he has made it to the final two entants every single time, and he won the whole thing in 2015.
However, his greatest Rumble moment came in 2014, when he sent an unprecedented 12 Superstars — including Sheamus, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose — to the arena floor, breaking Kane’s 2001 record of 11 eliminations. No wonder he adopted “One Versus All” as his personal war cry. — MIKE BURDICK
Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar – WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: WrestleMania 31
Thanks to Seth Rollins’ historic Money in the Bank cash-in, the sheer physicality of WrestleMania 31’s main event is sometimes, inconceivably, overlooked. Brock Lesnar was lacerated within the first 10 seconds of the match. (And, indeed, before the night was over, The Beast Incarnate would suffer another, even worse, cut to his head, courtesy of a nasty run-in with a steel ring post.) Within the first 20 seconds of action, Roman Reigns was felled by an F-5 — the first of four that evening. Let’s not even try to count the many suplexes — Germans, belly-to-bellies, fishermen — he endured.
Despite all the punishment, The Big Dog’s fearlessness and stubborn pride showed through. Lesnar slapped, kneed and brutalized Reigns. Through it all, Reigns not only stayed alive, but he dared to smile, almost laughed, and even encouraged Lesnar to bring it on. Reigns didn’t just survive the onslaught, either; he dished out a hellish beating in kind, including three Superman Punches and three Spears. Because Rollins seized an opportunity, Reigns may not have defeated Lesnar at WrestleMania, but he surely tested The Beast Incarnate like no other Superstar has done. — JOHN CLAPP
Roman Reigns vs. Triple H – WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: WrestleMania 32
Triple H tried everything to keep the WWE World Heavyweight Championship away from Roman Reigns. Yet, at WrestleMania 32, Reigns rose to the challenge and proved to the entire WWE Universe — and to The Authority — that he is “The Guy.” Still, he didn’t get there without a fight.
The King of Kings built his legendary career on pushing his opponents to the limit, and that’s exactly what he did against The Big Dog. Strategically targeting Reigns’ surgically-repaired nose while attempting to neutralize the Superman Punch with shots to the arm, Triple H attacked with a type of viciousness that only he can muster. Despite The Game’s best efforts, though, Reigns battled back in and out of the ring, surviving Pedigrees and dodging a sledgehammer before executing a third crushing Spear to secure the victory.
Through all of his trials and tribulations leading to WrestleMania 32, Roman Reigns proved that he could indeed “rule the yard” and stand toe-to-toe with some of the greatest Superstars of all time. — KEVIN POWERS
Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro – WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament: Raw, Nov. 16, 2015
It’s often said that in WWE, you’re only as good as the guy you’re in the ring with. Well, it’s easy to make the case that neither Roman Reigns nor Cesaro were ever as good as they were during this match. Battling under the highest of stakes in a WWE World Heavyweight Title Tournament, the Swiss and Samoan Supermen slugged it out in a battle for the ages that really could have gone either way.
Cesaro, riding the crowd’s support, emptied his considerable bag of tricks, while Reigns, riding what we might now call his destiny, matched him shot for shot and pulled out one last stop when it mattered most. In the most telling moment of the match, the two shared a subtle embrace before Cesaro left The Big Dog to his spotlight. We don’t speak most of the languages Cesaro does, but that one was easy to translate: “Nice job. Let’s do it again sometime.” — ANTHONY BENIGNO
Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles — WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Payback 2016
This match presented AJ Styles with the greatest challenge of his burgeoning WWE career as the international veteran attempted to pry sports-entertainment’s most illustrious prize from the tenacious Roman Reigns. Matching The Big Dog’s brute strength with speed and agility honed by grappling across the globe, The Phenomenal One took “The Guy” to his limit until both men crashed through the announce table, causing a double count-out.
Shane McMahon restarted the match, and when Reigns was disqualified moments later, Stephanie McMahon restarted the bout yet again, this time barring disqualifications. This wild rollercoaster ride ultimately ended in a six-man brawl when Reigns’ cousins, The Usos, and Styles’ running buddies, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, entered the fray. The clash ended with a Spear to Styles, and though The Phenomenal One proved that he belonged in WWE's main event picture, Reigns cemented why he was already there. —JAMES WORTMAN
Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan — No. 1 Contender’s Match: WWE Fastlane 2015
It’s sometimes forgotten now, but the first, and maybe the most vital, test of Reigns’ post-Shield career occurred at WWE Fastlane 2015 against Daniel Bryan.
With his main event spot at WrestleMania 31 on the line, Reigns — despite his numerous physical advantages — was perceived as an underdog by many. Bryan had played WrestleMania spoiler one year before and, although he was just returning from injury, he was rapidly picking up steam as the 2015 Road to WrestleMania began to take shape.
Bryan’s technical advantage pushed Reigns to his absolute limits, forcing him to engage in more ways than he ever had before. The result was an incredible contest that saw the pendulum of momentum swing several times over before Reigns ultimately capitalized with a Spear that secured the victory.
However, possibly even bigger than the victory itself, was the handshake that Bryan offered Reigns after the match. In that moment it was clear — Reigns passed his first test with flying colors. — RYAN PAPPOLLA