As wrestling fans, we have to recognize that A&E Biography episodes that feature WWE wrestlers are designed to appeal a bit to the general public, not just the hardcores.

There is no doubt that after watching Sunday’s Biography on Roman Reigns that your average fan believes he is a massive star, on par with other known talking heads, like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ric Flair, The Undertaker and Hulk Hogan.

But for hardcore fans, there was a little of that “they are pushing Roman down our throats” aspect too, which was, to the show’s credit, part of the narrative. “We were trying to force Roman Reigns to be a star,” admitted announcer Michael Cole, explaining that the fans wanted stardom to come organically.

It was publicized that Paul Heyman, special counsel to Roman Reigns, was actually the “director” for this show, and he laid it out early: “Just because it’s biased doesn’t mean it’s wrong.”

My take is that had they taken out the 20 minutes of hype that Reigns is the greatest of all time, it would have been a stronger Biography — but it would have had less impact with that intended general audience.

And it was that non-hype stuff — the stuff about the real Joe Anoa’i — that was the greatest part of the show. We heard from all of his immediate family: Mother, Patricia; father, Sika of the Wild Samoans; brother Matt, who was Rosey as a wrestler, in an archival interview; sisters Vanessa and Summer. We heard from the greater family: the Usos, who were a far bigger part of his life earlier than I realized. I wish there was a little more exploration of this line, being half-Samoan, half-Italian: “You can’t help but to feel that there’s a deficit of some sort, you can’t help but feel like you’re not whole.”

His football career was greatly overlooked, though, not detailing his brief time in the Canadian Football League at all [See this story: FOOTBALL WAS ROMAN REIGNS’ FIRST LOVE]. Instead, we hear from coaches at Georgia Tech and then he leaves rookie camp with the Minnesota Vikings to treat the diagnosis of CML which is a form of leukemia.

Wrestling fans will know that the leukemia would return in 2018, forcing Reigns to the sideline, but again, it’s a captivating — and very real — story for the general public. And he didn’t wrestle early in the COVID-19 pandemic as someone with a greater chance of getting sick.

Without a football career, while working at his sister Vanessa’s furniture company, with the future Jimmy and Jey Uso, his father, Sika, came by; “My dad walked in and laughed at me,” recalled Reigns. Challenged to start wrestling, he did, attending Florida Championship Wrestling, which was a WWE training system at the time.

We race through his time in FCW, with a brief clip of Dusty Rhodes putting Anoa’i over, and hearing from trainer Tom Prichard, and then it’s Seth Rollins talking about the rumors of a group of them being called up. Of course, that would be The Shield with Reigns, Rollins and Dean Ambrose (who is Jon Moxley in AEW, and who was not interviewed). “We lit a fire under everybody’s ass,” Reigns said of The Shield. The show didn’t focus much on the unit though, not going down the rabbit hole of explaining the Wyatt Family with now just Erick Rowan still alive.

The split was inevitable. “I didn’t want to break up The Shield and I definitely didn’t want to be a good guy,” said Reigns. As fans booed him as a babyface, he explained that he didn’t have the confidence to do anything else, and decided to “be a good soldier and do what you’re told.”

The massive booing after winning the Royal Rumble 2015 in Philadelphia — “ruining your party” — was noted as a turning point, and full circle, with Reigns headlining both nights at WrestleMania XL next weekend in Philly. “I was groomed to reach a point like this,” he said about main eventing.

Without a new interview with The Beast Incarnate, it’s left to JBL to fill in the story: “Roman had to walk through hell, and that was with Brock Lesnar.” Or, as Reigns summed up: “That was the first day of the rest of my life.” Rollins cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase at Mania was out of the blue, and to Reigns, “My life hasn’t been the same since.”

Defeating and retiring The Undertaker at WrestleMania was another step, where Reigns said he learned to “own” the microphone after how upset fans were.

The most emotional part, by far, was the death of Matt Anoa’i in 2017, as we hear from Vanessa, and an archived interview with Matt was played for Joe, who somehow kept his composure as his brother praised him from the grave. Later, Reigns says, “I just wish he was here, to take it in, and go through the process with me.”

According to Joe, it was Matt who once told him that you don’t get far in the wrestling business being a fun guy, who got along with everyone; instead, the suggestion was that you needed to be an asshole to succeed.

Lesson learned.

With 30 minutes left for the Bloodline storyline, a key interview from Smackdown in August 2020 is aired, where he vows to win the WWE Universal title back — which he does. Reigns seemed to grow during the pandemic, learning to pace himself better without a crowd.

The Bloodline (Solo Sikoa, Roman Reigns and Jimmy Uso) with Paul Heyman at WWE Friday Night Smackdown at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC, on January 5, 2024. Photo by Ben Lypka

The Bloodline (Solo Sikoa, Roman Reigns and Jimmy Uso) with Paul Heyman at WWE Friday Night Smackdown at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC, on January 5, 2024. Photo by Ben Lypka

Paul Heyman’s importance is explained by the usual talking head, Sam Roberts, and Heyman himself raved: “God, I love working with Roman Reigns … He’s so ambitious. He has such a deep desire to be the greatest of all time, and he won’t settle for second best.”

Fun asides included learning the origin of “Acknowledge Me.” “We weren’t looking for a catchphrase, it just happened,” said Heyman. And hearing Sami Zayn talk about his honorary role in the Bloodline was as amusing as they all were together.

What we have today, with the Bloodline Reigns, is, according to Rollins, the “most organic version of Roman Reigns that we’ve ever gotten in WWE.”

It ends with a lot of talk of how Reigns is the greatest, though trying to compare eras, different entertainment worlds, is next to impossible. There was not any math applied — does his 1,000+ day reign as champion, where he has defended the belt less than 50 times, really compare to the old schedules? No, but the demands are different is the argument.

There was surprisingly nothing about WrestleMania XL and the battle with Cody Rhodes, and the extra night with Rollins teaming with Rhodes against Reigns and The Rock.

But make no mistake who the biggest star is, at least according to the storyline of this episode of Biography.

“Roman Reigns as the Tribal Chief is the greatest of all time,” said Cena, who, given his past bowing to questionable governments, doesn’t have as much weight as A&E might think.

How about Michael Cole? “Roman Reigns has made it Must See Television.”

It doesn’t sound like we’re done with Roman Reigns. “If I’m not #1, I don’t want to be here,” he swore.

TOP PHOTO: Universal Champion Roman Reigns at WWE Friday Night Smackdown at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC, on January 5, 2024. Photo by Josh Ruckstuhl, @IG: joshruckstuhlphotography