A star defensive tackle at Georgia Tech, Roman Reigns wrecked offensive guards for both the Minnesota Vikings and the Jacksonville Jaguars before becoming a WWE Superstar. The hulking powerhouse brought his smash-mouth gridiron style to WWE’s developmental system, NXT, where he left a long line of tough opponents in crumpled heaps. But it was at the 2012 Survivor Series that Reigns made his greatest impact.
In the heat of a Triple Threat Match between WWE Champion CM Punk, John Cena and Ryback, Reigns hit the ring alongside fellow WWE NXT competitors Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins and unleashed a merciless attack on the mighty Ryback. Tearing at the beast like a pack of hungry jackals, the young competitors ruined Ryback’s opportunity to win the WWE Title and drove him through a ringside table.
Rumors that the group was working in collusion with The Straight Edge Superstar quickly spread, but those ties were strongly denied when Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose sat down with Michael Cole for an interview. Branding themselves “The Shield,” the band of upstarts in black tactical gear claimed that they weren’t in WWE to aid Punk, but to halt injustice. From then on, the group targeted anyone and everyone they saw as an example of said injustice, with Reigns slowly emerging as the trio’s juggernaut. At Extreme Rules 2013, Rollins & Reigns bested Team Hell No to win the WWE Tag Team Titles, later targeting Daniel Bryan on multiple occasions on the orders of WWE COO Triple H and his corporate Authority.
Reigns didn’t even suffer his first pinfall until nearly a year after The Shield debuted when he was eliminated by The Usos in the first-ever 11-on-3 Handicap Elimination Tag Team Match that pitted The Hounds against Bryan and his locker-room supporters. Despite losing the WWE Tag Team Titles to Cody Rhodes & Goldust, The Shield remained a dominant unit until CM Punk attempted to turn the three Superstars against each other and nearly succeeded.
Reigns’ next and potentially greatest step came in the 2014 Royal Rumble Match when he eliminated a record 12 Superstars from the contest, including a mutinous Ambrose and unsuspecting Rollins, and came in second before he was last eliminated by a returning Batista. The next night, though, The Shield were prevented from earning their way into the Elimination Chamber Match and challenging for the WWE World Heavyweight Title when The Wyatt Family interfered in their qualifying bout, handing the DQ victory to Daniel Bryan, John Cena & Sheamus. WWE COO Triple H later granted the enraged Shield a request to face The Wyatts at Elimination Chamber. After a couple of weeks of circling each other, the two factions finally came to blows at the end of the Feb. 17 Raw.
But at Elimination Chamber, The Hounds of Justice fell in a hard-fought battle to The Wyatt Family. Further infighting cost them a rematch eight days later when Rollins abandoned his teammates to make a statement, but once The Authority was revealed to view The Shield as “expendable,” The Hounds turned on their handlers and unleashed hell, destroying WWE Director of Operations Kane and The New Age Outlaws in one of the most dominant showings in WrestleMania history at the 30th Show of Shows – one that saw an unbelievable double-Triple Powerbomb on the Outlaws.
Despite Triple H’s efforts to stop The Shield by re-forming Evolution, The Hounds prevailed again at Extreme Rules in an incredible battle between two of the most dominant factions in WWE history.
So persistent was The Shield’s resistance that The Game re-formed Evolution with Randy Orton & Batista to combat them, but at Extreme Rules, The Shield emerged victorious, thanks in no small part to a gravity-defying effort by Rollins. Even then, however,The Hounds weren’t done with Evoluton, as Reigns, Rollins & Ambrose went on to shut out all three members of legendary faction in a brutal No Holds Barred Elimination Match at WWE Payback.
Following the breakup of The Shield, Reigns began an explosive pursuit of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. However, that would soon be overtaken by a personal rivalry with Randy Orton – a volatile conflict that has led the two Superstars to a showdown at SummerSlam.