Whether you’re Team Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Team Shaw (Jason Statham), Team Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), or Team Justice For Han (Sung Kang), there’s something for everyone in the first Fast & Furious spinoff film Hobbs & Shaw. Okay, well maybe not everyone, as Justice For Han still hasn’t been served (although it’s been promised that’s it’s coming in the future). But there’s definitely a lot to love in the latest Fast franchise installment. From insane set pieces to adrenaline-infused action sequences, hilarious one-liners to surprising cameos, Hobbs & Shaw is a non-stop thrill ride from beginning to end. There are so many amazing new characters to welcome into the Fast family fold like Kirby and Idris Elba’s Brixton. But there’s one face you may not recognize in the film that absolutely deserves your attention.
Joe Anoa’i, also known as Roman Reigns, plays one of Hobbs’ muscley, tatted Samoan brothers, Mateo. He’s in all the big action scenes when Hobbs, Shaw, and Hattie take the fight against shadowy tech cult Eteon and evil super soldier Brixton to Hobbs’ home. He may not have many lines, but Mateo lets his actions do the talking. He gets some incredibly badass close-up moments in the climactic battle, using his club to take out Eteon agents left and right without even breaking a sweat. This guy is clearly an action movie god.
And that’s because he’s had plenty of training. Just like Johnson, Anoa’i got his start in football and wrestling. After playing college and professional football (he even played for the NFL!), he transitioned to wrestling and is currently signed to WWE’s Smackdown under his wrestling persona name Roman Reigns. He’s a record-breaking champion with four world championship wins under his belt among other accolades. Suffice to say he’s one of the best, although wrestling fans still love to boo him when he wins sometimes.
Anoa’i has also overcome a lot of adversity to get to where he is today, acting in his first-ever film role for Hobbs & Shaw (he’s also previously appeared in one episode of Nickelodeon TV series Cousins for Life). Back when he was on the Minnesota Vikings, he was diagnosed with leukemia in May 2007. He battled it privately and went into remission around two years after that. 11 years later, it came back and Anoa’i was forced to go on hiatus from Raw in 2018. But not long after, in February of 2019, Reigns triumphantly returned to Raw, revealing that his leukemia was in remission again. Now that’s a winning comeback.
The football player-turned-wrestler-turned-actor also has a surprising connection to Hobbs & Shaw, since he’s cousins with Johnson, making this spinoff a true family affair. And everyone knows it wouldn’t be a true Fast film without family.
Hobbs & Shaw is now playing in theaters.