Chosen Ones: Comparing Rise of Roman Reigns and Charlotte Flair

Reigns and Flair

When it comes to WWE‘s main event scene of the last five years, no two wrestlers have been more prevalent and consistently at the top, than Roman Reigns and Charlotte Flair. Both in their mid-30s, the two superstars are synonymous with success, championship gold, and accolades that most go their entire careers without achieving. In their short time in the ring, both have already etched their names in the history books and when all is said and done, they will likely be the two most decorated superstars of their generation. Despite not always being liked or appreciated, and often seen by the fans as being over-pushed, it’s impossible to deny the impact both Reigns and Flair have had over the last five years in the WWE. The story of 2015-2020 was largely written with these two on top and love them or hate them, that is an undeniable fact.

Now, with both once again having championship gold around their waist and poised to add to their accolades in 2021, it only feels right to reflect on the all-too-similar rise to the top of WWE’s chosen ones. In fact, while these two experienced similar booking and have drawn comparisons in the past, most people probably don’t know just how parallel and uncannily alike the main event stardom of Reigns and Flair has been.

From NCAA to NXT

L to R: Roman Reigns and Charlotte Flair

Most WWE wrestlers these days achieve their dream following years traveling up and down the independent circuit to make a name for themselves, with many starting to wrestle in their teenage years. But that wasn’t the origin story of Roman Reigns or Charlotte Flair. Despite being generational stars with last names/family lines that are well known throughout the industry, neither Reigns nor Flair pursued wrestling as a first choice. Attending rival universities within the Atlantic Coast Conference during the same time as each other, both Reigns and Flair excelled as NCAA Division I athletes. It was no surprise given both began their collegiate careers following periods of great athletic success and accolades while in high school. Highly touted for their athletic ability, both Flair and Reigns spent their time in college playing sports. Flair was on the women’s volleyball team at Appalachian and then North Carolina State while Reigns played three years for the football team at Georgia Tech, earning a co-captainship and All-ACC First Team honors his senior year.

While undrafted, Reigns still opted to pursue an NFL career, landing brief practice squad stints with the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars, before ultimately playing one season for the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League. In 2010, Reigns retired from pro football to pursue a new dream, that of pro wrestling. The decision to join the family business seemed like a no-brainer and sure enough, Reigns landed straight in Florida Championship Wrestling (now NXT). He didn’t work matches on the indie scene, something he shares in common with Flair, who followed his path two years later. Much like Reigns, a career in wrestling wasn’t Flair’s first choice. Despite her family’s ties to the business, it wasn’t until her younger brother Reid died of an overdose, that Flair decided to become a wrestler. As she’s said in numerous interviews, her decision to become a wrestler was borne out of a desire to fulfill the dream her brother never was able to. So in October 2012, one month before Reigns headed to the main roster as a member of the SHIELD, Flair joined NXT. Her time in the black-and-yellow brand lasted three years and was filled with no shortage of accomplishments. Like Reigns, who won the FCW Tag Team Championship, Flair too claimed developmental gold, winning the NXT Women’s Championship and holding it for 258 days.

Breaking Out of Trios

L to R: Team PCB and the SHIELD

While not occurring concurrently, the next stage of Flair and Reigns’ careers also mimicked each other as both began their main roster runs as members of trios.

In November 2012, Reigns broke into the WWE alongside Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins in a trio known as the SHIELD. Considered one of WWE’s top-ever factions, the SHIELD was not only successful when they were together, but also apart. The trio dominated WWE and provided some of the company’s top matches and top storylines during their two-year run at the top. And when the group broke up, it did so with three bonafide stars, all of whom have enjoyed immensely successful WWE runs. Perhaps none more so than Reigns. Despite being part of the SHIELD’s main tag team, and despite not being the one who broke up the group, it was clear that Reigns was the guy earmarked for success. While Ambrose and Rollins spent the better part of 2014-15 feuding with each other over the destruction of the brotherhood, Reigns was positioned as a singles star and top contender for the world championship.

That same year, in 2015, whereas the SHIELD was long broken up, new factions were being formed, specifically in the women’s division. WWE had launched a Women’s Revolution, complete with main roster promotions for three of the top NXT stars, Flair, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch. Much like when Reigns debuted with the SHIELD, Flair debuted as a member of a trio as well, Team PCB, which consisted of her, Lynch, and Paige. Much like the members of the SHIELD, all three women have now laid claim to being top champions in WWE. Much like Reigns, Flair was not the star or mouthpiece of Team PCB. However, she emerged as the one to watch. Her pedigree notwithstanding, Flair’s raw genetic talent led to her becoming the breakout star of the faction. In fact, while the group was still together, it was Flair, just two months into her main roster run, who won the top women’s title, then the Divas Championship. It was her first world championship but far from her last. And as their careers began to intersect, just three months later, Reigns won his first world title as well.

Dominating their Divisions

Both Reigns and Flair entered 2016 as the world champs in their respective divisions. Reigns won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship twice in 2016, holding the belt for nearly all of January and again from April to June. Flair meanwhile, enjoyed a near 200-day reign with her first women’s championship, holding the title from September 2015 – April 2016. This led to WrestleMania 32 and the retirement of the Divas Championship. Rebranded as the Women’s Championship, Flair defeated Lynch and Banks to become the first woman to hold the new championship. Later that same night, Reigns defeated Triple H to win his third world championship. For the first time, both Flair and Reigns walked away from the same PPV as newly crowned champions. It wouldn’t be the last time, however, as two years later at SummerSlam in 2018, both won world titles on the same night yet again.

Reigns held the title he had won at WrestleMania through June, with Flair dropping hers a month later. But she didn’t have to wait long to regain the belt as Flair and Banks began trading the title back and forth for the remainder of the year. By the time 2016 came to an end, Flair had five reigns as the women’s top champion compared to Reigns’ three.

In 2017, WWE introduced the first-ever Women’s Money in the Bank match, a match that Flair took part in and lost. Why bring this up? Because before getting to the accolades that Flair and Reigns would continue to add to their perhaps future Hall of Fame resumes, it’s worth noting that the one thing these two haven’t done is won the MITB ladder match. Reigns, in fact, has only ever participated in the match once. Flair has been in two. And while not winning the briefcase is bad enough, both Reigns and Flair also share in common that the two have been cashed in on the same night in which they won a title. For Reigns, his less than a day reign occurred during his first-ever singles championship reign, at the hands of Sheamus at Survivor Series in 2015. For Flair, her less than a day reign was in 2019 as Bayley, who had won the MITB briefcase earlier that night, cashed in moments after Flair defeated Lynch to claim her fourth SmackDown Women’s Championship and ninth world title overall.

reigns and flair rumble

But MITB woes aside, there really isn’t much else that these two generational superstars and children of WWE Hall of Famers have yet to accomplish. Since beginning their main event rises in 2015, Reigns and Flair have combined to win 19 championships and have main evented every single WrestleMania with the exception of last year, during that span (Reigns main evented from 2015-18 and Flair main evented in 2019). In fact, after main eventing for four consecutive years, ironically enough, it was Flair and the first-ever women’s WrestleMania main event, that prevented Reigns from breaking the record for most consecutive main events, of which he is currently tied with Hulk Hogan.

Prior to the introduction of the women’s tag team titles, Flair was the first-ever women’s triple crown winner, having been the NXT, SmackDown and Raw women’s champion. In 2020, after winning the tag team titles alongside Asuka, Flair added WWE grand slam winner to her resume, becoming the fourth such woman to do so. Reigns too accomplished that feat, doing so almost exactly three years prior when he became the ninth person under the 2015 revised format to achieve the feat having last captured the Intercontinental Championship. If there was something like a grand slam plus one, both Reigns and Flair would have that as well as both are former Royal Rumble winners with Reigns winning the match in 2015 and Flair winning in 2020. And to add just one more to the long list of similarities, both Flair and Reigns also have been runner-ups in the match and they did so in the same year, 2018. For Reigns, that was the second of three rumble appearances in a row (2017, 2018 and 2020 – he did not participate in the 2019 match) in which he was the last man to be thrown over the top rope.

What’s Next for Reigns and Flair?

Universal and Women's Tag Team champions

From 2016-18, there was rarely a PPV that didn’t feature either Reigns or Flair, or in many cases both at the same time, either defending or competing for a world championship. That likely would have continued into 2019 if not for Reigns missing a significant amount of time due to receiving cancer treatments. But even without Reigns, Flair spent the bulk of 2019 at or near the top, winning another three championships to add to her now 10 women’s championships and 13 titles overall. For both, 2020 was somewhat of a wash as due to COVID implications, Reigns wrestled just 32 matches. Flair, who took time off to tend to her own health issue, wrestled in just 34. But by the end of the year, Reigns and Flair had picked right back up where they left off, with both as champions once again. Having newly turned heel, Reigns returned to the WWE at Payback in August to claim the title he never rightfully lost. Flair returned in December and surprised many when she teamed up with Asuka to earn her first-ever women’s tag team championship. The two have been holding those respective championships ever since.

Reigns is enjoying the longest world title reign of his career and hands down the most dominant. No one is performing at the level he is right now as the new Tribal Chief and Head of the Table gimmick has done wonders. Meanwhile, Flair is getting by on the other side of the alignments, as she’s currently playing the role of the babyface. But that may not last long. Despite being one-half of the tag team champions, there is no doubt Flair is eying up Asuka’s Raw Women’s Championship. These two seem set for a collision course sooner rather than later meaning once again, Flair and Reigns could be world champions at the same time. There is no denying WWE sees these two as their stars and faces of the company. Just look at their track records. Whenever there is history to be made or a big moment to be had, WWE has turned to the masters of the spear, the children of the Hall of Famers, the winners of the Royal Rumble, the WrestleMania main eventers, the former world champions, and former collegiate athletes…the list goes on. WWE has turned to Reigns and Flair because these two not only have the pedigree but they’ve had the successes that just keep landing them right on top. And no matter what comes next, one thing is clear. Reigns and Flair’s main event trajectory seems likely to continue paralleling each other into the foreseeable future.

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