Daily DDT Debates: Roman Reigns is the top star to come out of The Shield


Factions have been a prominent feature of professional wrestling for decades. The likes of the Heenan Family and Fabulous Freebird paved the way for the likes of D-X and nWo, who then paved the way for Evolution, etc. There continue to be clusters of talent gathered in supergroups in today’s wrestling, with three leading stars of the industry comprising their own supergroup in the 2010s; Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Jon Moxley, otherwise known as The Shield.

All enjoyed success when they were in a group, promoted from NXT with each other to capture their first titles in the promotion within the first year. As individuals, on the other hand, they have really come to their own, taking accolades and titles by the bucket load and dominating the upper end of their respective brands.

Roman Reigns, the Tribal Chief, the Head of the Table, the longest-reigning, currently defending WWE Universal Champion and leader of the gold-draped Bloodline faction, is the man who transcended furthest from the SHIELD.

It hasn’t been an easy journey, mind you, Roman had for so long endured a torrid relationship with the fanbase. As Moxley and Rollins broke out of The Shield’s rubble reflective of their personas, Roman left the group seemingly without purpose, a corporate WWE action-figure personified. By no means a reflection of the man behind the Roman, he has since shown he is capable of producing compelling stories and layered character development, but to say that he was cast in the correct role as franchise player babyface would be a contortion of the truth.

For years, Roman enjoyed statistical success, capturing the WWE World Heavyweight, United States, Intercontinental, and Universal titles even despite receiving a chorus of boos from fans who rejected Vince’s ideology that Roman was the top guy. Chants of “you can’t wrestle” during his WWE Championship program with Sheamus and the bizarre bundle that was the League of Nations were quickly dispelled when Roman proved that he could actually wrestle. However, this did nothing to quiet the negative atmosphere that befell his segments, when he was supposed to have the fan backing. Who received that backing instead? Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins.

Roman’s former Shield mates enjoyed similar success to himself, but thrived in their new personas and basked in the support of the audience. Seth and Dean received huge pops for their WWE title wins, all coming at Roman’s expense. Reigns collided with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31, but Seth genuinely saved the Mania main event from serious backlash when he cashed in and pinned Roman to become the first of The Shield to capture the WWE title.

The defeated Samoan returned to the main event of WrestleMania the next year, with two WWE title reigns under his belt he challenged and defeated Triple H to an audience who vocally made it known they were displeased. None of Roman’s success felt like it had resonated with the crowd in a good way, but success at the end of the day is a success, whether or not the celebrations are shared. Especially in wrestling, as his dominance showed that even with the fans fully against him, he was backed by his employers.

Roman enjoyed a period where he was less hated than in his initial run, as fans began to accept that this was the way it was. The Shield reunion played homage to the Hollywood sequel trope and felt very dry when compared to their initial meteoric rise, but still worked to endear this version of Roman to the fans, if only slightly.

It was after he had beaten Brock Lesnar, at last, for the Universal title after such a long and unnecessary dragging of their feud when fans really stood on the side of Roman. The champion had to stand in the ring and pull back the curtain, revealing Joe Anoa’i, as he told the world his leukemia had returned. His absence was felt, Roman felt unappreciated during the time he was present, and it almost certainly didn’t help that the subsequent Dean Ambrose-Seth Rollins feud was a creative mismanagement weekly seminar. Perhaps it was at this moment when Roman had returned and announced that he was in remission, that the former Universal champ had taken the fans’ reverence.

Roman was still nowhere near as over as Seth or Dean, especially when the latter kicked down AEW’s doors as Jon Moxley, carrying the company throughout the pandemic as AEW World Champion. Seth had also risen to his Beast-slayer role in Roman’s hiatus, winning the Royal Rumble to go on to WrestleMania and defeat Brock Lesnar for the Universal title. Roman, meanwhile, still felt as though he was too much of a corporate device to have the majority of fans on board.

Given the story so far, to say Roman was the best of The Shield would come without merit, for although his resume told of untold titles and accolades when decided by his bosses, he had still not convinced the fans to give him his flowers.

So what makes him the best of The Shield today? The simple fact that he is the sole reason for which The Shield was born, he was the blue-chip prospect breaking out of the stable, and he sits atop WWE as a result of his success. Finally, Roman has done what he could never, and that captivates the fans. Roman is by and large the best thing WWE has to offer outside of its back catalog of legends.

Since returning and dethroning the Fiend as Universal Champion, Roman has oozed Hollywood-level charisma in his villain role. The Tribal Chief had produced iconic rivalries, segments, and matches with a litany of top-tier performers, including his Shield-mate Seth Rollins at this year’s Royal Rumble, while that remains a loose end of a tale yet to be revisited.

dark. Next. Daily DDT Debates: Jon Moxley is the top star to come out of The Shield

Roman is truly on a level unto himself, with potential extending even outside his WWE career. There can be no doubt that in the scope of who has emerged as the biggest star of The Shield, Roman Reigns carries the crown, and the rest is soon to be WrestleMania history.