Long before Roman Reigns was The Tribal Chief and smashing record after record as the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion, he was a trainee at the company’s developmental territory, FCW.
There, he learned the basics of pro wrestling and made his debut as ‘Roman Leakee’. He used that name until October 2012 when FCW became NXT and Roman Leakee became Roman Reigns. Weeks later, he debuted on the main WWE roster as part of The Shield alongside Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose – now AEW’s Jon Moxley – beginning his path to the top of WWE.
Ricky Steamboat saw Roman Reigns as a future World Champion
One of Reigns’ trainers in FCW was the legendary Ricky Steamboat. The Dragon has fond memories of working with the Head Of The Table, saying he was “probably one of the nicest, most respectful, most polite guys at that school at the time.”
Steamboat described Reigns as someone who would do anything to get better, but he didn’t want to use his famous cousin, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, to get ahead.
“Roman was the kind of guy that would open up and try and do anything to get better. He didn’t want to be the shadow of [his real-life cousin] The Rock. He didn’t want that.
“And he had a Hollywood, movie star face, and that was a big plus right there for the girls. But he’s a very tight family man with his family and his kids, very tight.”
While Reigns had the look and the build to make it in WWE, Steamboat says the one thing he was missing was in-ring psychology.
“That took a little extra time with Roman. I will say definitely he wasn’t the type of guy that said, ‘It’s either my way or no way.’ That’s definitely not Roman. He would ask you more so he would understand better.”
According to Steamboat, he could see that Reigns had everything he needed to become a World Champion, even while he was just getting started in the business.
“I just thought he was a super guy and I felt that he had a place with the company and he had everything that it would take to be a World Champion and represent the company.”
Reigns is set to defend the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Sami Zayn at Elimination Chamber on February 18th. If he is able to overcome the challenge from the former Bloodline member, Reigns will then take on Cody Rhodes in the main event of WrestleMania 39.
H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the above transcription