Roman Reigns made Monday Night Raw his yard before his move to SmackDown in 2019, these are the Big Dog’s top 5 moments from the WWE’s flagship show.
Whether he was on his own or with his Shield mates, Roman Reigns conquered Monday Night Raw from his debut in 2012 to his departure for Smackdown last year. His Monday night triumphs made fans hate or love him more than ever thought possible, but on any occasion, he gave them all something to react to.
Reigns wins the Intercontinental Championship
Brock Lesnar’s part-time status while holding the WWE Universal Championship meant having to position the Intercontinental belt as Raw‘s quasi top title. The Miz and Roman Reigns’ feud over the Intercontinental Championship elevated the belt, and the two stars made it feel as important as they could in the meantime before Brock returned for his next big payday.
Miz, a perennial IC champ, had a Lesnar-sized chip on his shoulder and was arguably at his best during this feud. Although he was champion, working with Reigns in the Raw main event program was a greater opportunity in itself for Miz, and he made the most of it. Their match in November was a classic championship bout made for TV and ended with Reigns capturing his first and only Intercontinental title victory.
The Shield reunites to stop Braun Strowman
The post-SummerSlam Raw saw a massive main event match between Finn Bálor and Roman Reigns, the newly-crowned Universal Champion. An already engaged crowd became unglued when Braun Strowman appeared near the end of the contest to cash in his Money in the Bank contract. Reigns got the job done and beat Bálor soon after but he had no time to gather his bearings, Strowman had decided he was going to capitalize on the vulnerable champion.
Before the bell could ring, the familiar sound of NATO code and the visual of dudes in riot gear filled our ears and eyes, respectively. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins came to Roman’s aid. The Shield reunited once again to attack Braun Strowman and protect Roman’s reign as champion of the universe.
“This is my yard now”
A tangible sense of disapproval brewed in the crowd as Roman Reigns stood in the middle of the ring on the night after WrestleMania 33, where he defeated The Undertaker and seemingly retired him. Resentful chants rained down on Roman, who had no choice but to soak it all in while he waited for an opening to speak without interruption. Reigns feigned like he was about to talk, only for the jeers to escalate each time he raised the microphone towards his face, creating an interesting back-and-forth between him and the crowd.
Some minutes had passed, and Roman still hadn’t said a word. The more opinionated and “in the know” fans that made up this post-WrestleMania crowd were not finished letting Reigns know what they thought of him. Finally, Reigns readied himself to speak. The hard camera’s focus drew closer to his face, and despite the uproar surrounding him, he made his declaration: “This is my yard now.”
Reigns wins the WWE Championship
Roman Reigns was cheered as he won the WWE Championship… in Philadelphia! It was shocking to see the Philly crowd react so positively after they called for his execution in January when he won the Royal Rumble. Stephanie McMahon slapped him a few times at the start of the show, and Vince McMahon kicked him down-low not even an hour after, but these were the makings for a heroic babyface victory to cap the show.
Mr. McMahon’s presence ringside, along with the stipulation that Reigns would be fired if he lost, guaranteed mischief. Reigns and Sheamus had a very physical battle like they did the night before at the TLC pay-per-view, but this match relied on classic wrestling drama instead of weapons. Roman Superman Punched McMahon in the face, causing the crowd to explode. Reigns Speared and pinned Sheamus to win his 2nd WWE Championship moments later and was met with a raucous ovation on a pleasantly bizarre night in December.
“I’m in remission y’all”
Roman Reigns’ best moment on the red brand transcended the scripts and production of a professional wrestling broadcast. Reigns’ reveal of his real-life battle with leukemia wrote him off WWE television in October 2018, and the news of his return on the February 25th edition of Raw gave everyone reason to speculate.
The Atlanta crowd was buzzing to start the show and erupted when Reigns’ entrance music hit. Roman’s unmistakable smile on his way to the ring promised good news. Still, fans weren’t completely sure what he was there to say. The tension thickened with each word from Roman’s speech, but when it was time to deliver, he did. Reigns’ announcement that his leukemia was in remission ignited a visceral feeling of happiness felt throughout the arena. The Big Dog was back.
Roman Reigns is one of the biggest draws that the WWE has to offer. Fans better appreciate him while he’s around because he may not be forever. Even still, these are the types of moments that come when Roman is the top man on either show.