Given that his current run as ‘The Tribal Chief’ has been the greatest work of his career, it’s difficult to imagine Roman Reigns has anything but that. Everyone has to start somewhere, though, and for Reigns, that meant a brief run in NXT.
WWE is celebrating that period of Roman’s life, acknowledging him with the ten-year anniversary of his debut in the brand. Airing on NXT’s October 31, 2012 broadcast (initially taped on September 20), the bout saw Reigns defeat CJ Parker in a matter of minutes. This marked the first of three NXT matches for Roman Reigns prior to him joining The Shield.
Subsequent bouts saw him defeat Chase Donovan and Gavin Reid, the latter of which aired after he, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose formed The Shield at the 2012 Survivor Series pay-per-view. Given the taped date, however, Roman appears without the trio’s famed riot-esque gear.
Ten years to the day since the WWE Universe was introduced to @WWERomanReigns 🐐
"NXT Universe, that's a star right there!" pic.twitter.com/GUOkyklwgz
— WWE on BT Sport (@btsportwwe) October 31, 2022
Roman Reigns Almost Never Became The Tribal Chief
Having promoted himself as ‘The Tribal Chief’ since his blockbuster return at the 2020 SummerSlam pay-per-view, Roman Reigns has become the top heel in WWE. However, according to Matt Hardy, it’s a situation that Vince McMahon was “hesitant” to make happen, as the Hardy brother discussed on the latest Extreme Life of Matt Hardy podcast:
“I remember Vince was so hesitant for so many years to turn Roman into a heel. Roman as the top babyface, which he was being pushed and promoted as during that time, I knew whenever they decided to turn him heel, because fans were already booing, they were ready and it was gonna be easy to do, and all it was gonna do ultimately was make him into a much bigger star.”
Roman Reigns is currently gearing up for the next defence of his Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. That will occur on Saturday, November 5 at WWE Crown Jewel as he’s challenged by Logan Paul in a highly-anticipated contest.