Roman Reigns vs Tama Tonga
Tama, a Tongan vs Roman, a Samoan. Despite online confusion, they are not related. Tama is the adopted son of Haku (Tonga Fifita), who happens to be a close family friend of the Anoaʻi family which Roman Reigns belongs to. While Tama Tonga made fame in NJPW with the Bullet Club and then the Guerillas of Destiny, Roman Reigns made fame with The Shield and his main event singles career that quickly followed. They aren’t matched by weight/height, these two have had numerous twitter exchanges showing that they would be great rivals by their views, attitude, promo styles, and in ring differences, while some visual similarities are noticed as well.
2008 In January, Alipate Leone (Tama Tonga) and his biological cousin and adoptive brother Tevita Fifita (Tanga Loa) approached the Dudley Boyz to use the ring they had at the Team 3D Academy of Professional Wrestling and Sports Entertainment training school they operated in Kissimmee, Florida. They did not join the school at the time as they were being trained directly by their father and Ricky Santana, a family friend. To practice more frequently they eventually joined the Academy proper and were partly trained by Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley. The brothers made their professional debut in November 2008, wrestling as a tag team under the name The Sons of Tonga (referencing their father) in Southern Championship Wrestling (Florida). They took part in a WWE tryout camp, two months later they were told that Tevita (Tanga Loa) would be offered a contract by WWE (he would later appear on television as Camacho) while Alipate (Tama Tonga) would not. Alipate continued wrestling as Kava in WXW during the year, winning the WXW Television Championship on 20 June 2009 though he lost it the same day. In the first part of 2010 he returned to WWC, first as a singles wrestler with the moniker King Tonga Jr. (his father had also wrestled in Puerto Rico as King Tonga).
2010 Alipate Leone (Tama Tonga) went to Japan in 2010, initially going to New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) to train, he impressed enough to be hired by the company. He made his NJPW debut in May 2010 under the name “Tama Tonga”. In July 2010, Leati Joseph “Joe” Anoaʻi (Roman Reigns) made his first venture into wrestling after retiring his American Football career. Joe made his FCW debut in September, using the ring name Roman Leakee (often shortened to Leakee). Later in 2011, Leakee formed a tag team with Donny Marlow, a character played by none other than Tama Tonga’s brother and current tag team partner, Tevita Fifita (Tanga Loa). The pair unsuccessfully challenged Calvin Raines and Big E Langston for the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship in July 2011.
2012 After WWE rebranded FCW to NXT in August, Leakee, with the new ring name of Roman Reigns and a villain character, made his debut on the October 31 episode of NXT by defeating CJ Parker. After defeating Chase Donovan two weeks later, Reigns wrestled his last match on the December 5 episode of NXT by defeating Gavin Reids. Reigns made his main roster television debut as on November 18 at Survivor Series alongside Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, assaulting Ryback during the triple threat main event for the WWE Championship, allowing CM Punk to retain the title. The trio declared themselves The Shield and vowed to rally against “injustice”.
2013 After an excursion to NJPW’s partner promotion CMLL in 2012, Tama Tonga returned to NJPW in 2013. On May 3rd at Wrestling Dontaku 2013, Tonga followed Prince Devitt and Bad Luck Fale ringside after Karl Anderson’s loss to Hiroshi Tanahashi where they all attacked Tanahashi. The four of them founded a new villainous stable named Bullet Club under Devitt’s leadership. Tama Tonga would team up in tag team competition with his cousin and Bullet Club stablemate Bad Luck Fale. Incidentally, they never met while both spending their early childhoods in Muʻa Tonga. They were in the NJPW dojo at the same time and realized they were related when a relative commented on a photo Fale had posted on social media. Tama Tonga adopted the “Bad Boy” moniker from his time in CMLL with Bullet Club member “The Bad Boy” El Terrible. “Bad Boy” Tama Tonga would continue his CMLL excursions and make the Bullet Club name known in CMLL. Upon returning to NJPW, he was seen as a minor member of the Bullet Club.
2014 After the dissolution of The Shield in June 2014, Reigns (now a singles wrestler) was quickly inserted into world title contention that month and he headlined the next two pay-per-view events. Reigns (unlike the other former Shield members) retained much of The Shield’s aesthetic and his popularity amongst fans and critics declined. Various critics raised concerns that Reigns, despite being “not fully ready”, was “being pushed too hard, too soon” while WWE tried to make him their next “flagship star”, “no matter how fans reacted” negatively. In a reversal from the previous year’s Royal Rumble, Reigns was booed heavily after his victory despite portraying a heroic character at the 2015 Royal Rumble. After chasing the WWE World Heavyweight Championship unsuccessfully throughout 2015, critics described WWE presenting Reigns’s character as a “hard-luck underdog” chasing the world title, with WWE having “spent an overwhelming amount of time” on Reigns, “bending over backwards to create new obstacles for him to overcome”, “at the expense of almost everyone else on the roster”. Regardless, by the end of 2015 Roman Reigns became a WWE Heavyweight Champion.
2016 Tama Tonga announced that he would reform his tag team with Tevita in NJPW, recruiting him into the Bullet Club as Tanga Loa. The team was named “Guerrillas of Destiny” (G.O.D.) and soon after become the new IWGP Tag Team Champions. Tama Tonga participated in his first, NJPW’s most prestigious tournament called the G1 Climax, and showed a major step-up including a win over last year’s winner. Roman Reigns continued to be pushed by the WWE. With WWE unrelenting in their multi-year effort trying to establish Reigns as a mega-star, Reigns was booed at various WWE events, most notably at major pay-per-view events (where he wrestled in the main event in) such as 2016’s Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 32 as well as the 2017’s Royal Rumble. As a result, critics observed WWE’s repeated attempts to edit out and conceal hostile fan responses in 2015–2017 while Reigns was named as 2016’s “Most Hated Wrestler of the Year” by Pro Wrestling Illustrated, becoming the first babyface wrestler to have been recognized as such. WWE Hall of Famers Stone Cold Steve Austin, Rikishi and Hulk Hogan encouraged WWE to turn the Reigns character into a villain and after his suspension Yahoo! TV also urged WWE to “quit pretending he’s some kind of lovable underdog” with a villainous turn. later in 2018 Roman Reigns would address the criticism in a promo on Raw:
“People can boo, they can hate, they talk about ‘Roman is being crammed down our throats.’ It’s simple. Learn to like it or close your mouth.”
2017 Tama tweeted a picture captioned “If Seth Rollin and Roman Reigns had a baby…….😈#BadBoyTamaTonga” comparing himself to the members of WWE’s The Shield. Tama Tonga continued in tag team competition with G.O.D. as well as singles competition throughout 2017.
2018 At The New Beginning in Sapporo, Bullet Club stablemate Cody turned on the leader of the stable, Kenny Omega. This led to there being two sides to Bullet Club; Team Cody and Team Kenny. While Tama stayed neutral at Strong Style Evolved before a tag team match against Marty Scurll and Cody, Tama stated if he were to be on a team it wouldn’t be Team Cody. On the first night of the Wrestling Dontaku 2018 shows, G.O.D and Fale lost the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship the Super Villains (Marty Scurll and the Young Bucks). The second night, Tama debuted the newest member to Bullet Club, Taiji Ishimori. Later, it was announced that Tama will be competing in the G1 Climax 28. At the G1 Special in San Francisco following Kenny’s victory over Cody in the main event, Tama, Loa, and Haku came out to seemingly celebrate with Kenny and the Young Bucks in a show of loyalty, only to attack The Elite, as well as fellow Bullet Club members Hangman Page, Marty Scurll, even Chase and Takahashi, and finally Cody, when they tried to intervene. They then left the ring declaring that they were the true Bullet Club. During the Bullet Club Civil War, Tama Tonga was temporarily locked out of his Twitter account. When he emerged from the ban, Tonga blamed WWE star Roman Reigns for being the “rat” that got him into Twitter trouble. Reigns fired back at comments made by Tonga, and now Tonga has continued the social media beef, cutting a promo on Roman Reigns during NJPW’s G1 Climax tournament for Instagram (Video).
Tale of the tape:
|WWE||Known In||NJPW, CMLL, ROH|
|Afa Anoaʻi, FCW, Sika Anoaʻi||Trained By||The Dudley Boyz, Ricky Santana, Haku|
|Spear, Superman Punch, Running Apron Dropkick, Tilt-a-whirl Slam, Samoan Drop||Signature Moves||Veleno, Tongan twist, Gun Stun, Headshrinker, Tope con Hilo, Tornillo|
Who would win this rivalry?
Can it happen?
It’s unlikely to see Roman Reigns leave the WWE for NJPW. However if WWE shows interest in Tama Tonga, it’s likely that Tama Tonga would accept. Would the WWE book the match? Would they give Tama Tonga credibility, or would Roman Reigns go over in a squash match? WWE looks to continue Roman Reigns’ success without an equal, so the match in WWE would still be less than likely. That being said, never say never..