Wrestlemania 39 will take place from SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA, this weekend and the two most anticipated matches stem from the same story. The Usos will defend the undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship against Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens on Night 1 and Roman Reigns will defend the undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Cody Rhodes in the main event of Night 2.
Since the summer of 2020, the Bloodline story has been the most layered and detailed storyline the WWE has produced in recent memory. We have seen several chapters play out on television, including different character pivot points, high-stakes matches, and the longest world title reign in the modern history of the company. Should Reigns and the Usos drop their respective titles this weekend, it will truly mark the end of an era.
With the help of the WWE releasing its own two-hour Bloodline video a few weeks ago, I’ve decided to go back myself and go over this story blow by blow. But before we begin, let’s take a look at what led up to the story unfolding.
The son of Sika of the famed Wild Samoans tag team, Roman Reigns hails from the famed Anoa’i wrestling family dynasty. After a brief football career in the NFL and CFL, he officially enters the wrestling business in 2010 and signs with the WWE. This comes shortly after his cousins Jimmy and Jey Uso, whom he grew up with in Pensacola, FL, also decided to get in on the family business.
After a few years in the WWE’s developmental territory of FCW and later NXT, Reigns makes his main roster debut at Survivor Series 2012 as part of the Shield. Consisting of himself, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose (now Jon Moxley in AEW), the Shield go on to become one the most popular stables in recent memory, with all three being recognized as future stars of the business. The group would break up in the summer of 2014 and in its aftermath, Reigns would be tabbed by the top brass as the next breakout star of the company post-John Cena.
Reigns’ subsequent push by the company was met with mixed reactions, as a portion of the audience rejected him as the the WWE’s anointed guy. Initially struggling with the split reactions from the audience, he’d eventually grow into his role as the top guy and would main event four straight Wrestlemania’s. Meanwhile, the Usos would stamp themselves in the midcard as one of the best tag teams of the era, putting on classic matches with their arch rivals the New Day.
After winning the WWE Universal title from Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2018, Reigns stunned the world that October with the sad news that his leukemia had returned after being in remission for 11 years. This forced him to relinquish the Universal title without losing. Nearly four months later in February, however, Reigns announced that he was back in remission and made a triumphant return to WWE television.
One year later in February of 2020, Reigns challenged then Universal Champion Goldberg for a title match at Wrestlemania 36. However, the subsequent start of the COVID-19 pandemic nixed those plans. With him being immunocompromised due to his leukemia, Reigns was taken off the Wrestlemania card and replaced with Braun Strowman.
Reigns would be absent from WWE television throughout the summer of 2020 as the company marched forward in front of no crowds. That period away allowed time for the superstar to come up with ways to overhaul the presentation of his character and be presented in a brand new light. To show the ruthless, dominant presence he wanted to be from the beginning. That would lead to...
“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt defeats Braun Strowman to win the WWE Universal Championship. After the match, he is attacked by a returning Roman Reigns. It was fitting considering the tagline of the show was “you’ll never see it coming.”
Already showing a more “heelish” attitude, Reigns makes clear that he wants back the title that he never lost.
In the closing moments of that episode of Smackdown, Reigns is sitting on the couch talking to WWE official Adam Pearce. The camera pans over to shockingly reveal Paul Heyman sitting next to Reigns. With Brock Lesnar not under contract with the WWE at the time, Heyman becomes the “special counsel” for Reigns.
Reigns defeats Strowman and Wyatt in a no-holds barred triple-threat match to win the Universal title. He showed up late to the match, hit the Fiend with a low blow, Strowman with a spear, and got the win. Reigns will go on to hold the Universal title until this very day.
With his brother Jimmy on the shelf with an ACL injury, Jey Uso dips his toes into singles competition and surprisingly wins a fatal four-way match to become the No. 1 contender for the Universal title. Two weeks later, Reigns attacks him on the stage and first emphasizes the importance of him providing for the family.
Clash of Champions, 9/27/20
Roman bruatalizes Jey in their title match, forcing Jimmy to come out and throw in the towel for his brother.
He begins to psychologically manipulate Jey on the episodes of Smackdown afterwards, and first uses the phrase “Acknowledge Me” on October 2. Jey is still defiant, so he grants him another title shot at Hell in a Cell.
Hell in a Cell, 10/25/20
Reigns beats Jey within an inch of his life once again during this Hell in a Cell I Quit match and that once again brings out Jimmy. Reigns puts Jimmy in a guillotine choke, forcing Jey to say I Quit. This is the first instance of Jey trying to protect his brother from Reigns’ wrath.
Jey finally falls in line and acknowledges Roman as the head of the table, helping him beat down Daniel Bryan to end the show.
Roman continues to psychologically gaslight Jey over the next month, however, lashing out at him after he loses for Team Smackdown at Survivor Series. He places extra emphasis on making people respect his family and this brings out even more aggression from Jey.
Kevin Owens officially joins the story, challenging Roman to a title match. In the main event, Jey and Roman beat down KO, but Roman then beats Jey down with a chair to continue break down his cousin. This eventually leads to Reigns defeating KO at TLC and in a steel cage match on the Christmas taping of Smackdown.
Reigns beats KO in a Last Man Standing match at the Royal Rumble, a ridiculous title match where they brawled all over Tropicana Field and Reigns literally hit KO with a golf cart. That same night, Edge wins the Royal Rumble from the No. 1 spot.
At Elimination Chamber the following month, Daniel Bryan last eliminates Jey Uso to earn an immediate title match against Reigns, one that he loses in less than two minutes.
Wrestlemania 37, 4/11/21
Jey Uso wins the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal on the Smackdown before Wrestlemania. Two nights later, he interferes in the main event and helps Reigns retain the Universal title in a triple-threat match against Edge and Daniel Bryan. This marked the first time that a heel champ Reigns appeared in front of a live crowd, as his long title reign was only beginning to rev up.