This past Monday saw one of the best factions in recent history crack. The Shield, as they say, was a thing. Key word was. It all ended when Seth Rollins greeted Roman Reigns on the back with a very stiff chairshot. The next ribshot was for Dean Ambrose. This wasn't just a group of three guys parting ways. No, it was the dissolving of one of the rarest things in wrestling: a longterm stable of new guys who had an absurd track record of dominance for more than a year and a half. So, what happens now?
Simply put, stars must be born.
November 18th, 2012. That was the day The Shield debuted in the WWE. Three largely unknown rookies from FCW- or as it was also known, Florida Championship Wrestling. FCW was formerly WWE's feeder system before NXT. These three rookies didn't just come in and debut. They debuted.
Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose came out during the main event of the 2012 Survivor Series. Ryback and John Cena were challenging CM Punk for his beloved WWE title.Punk was in the midst if a 434 day reign. Ryback was a legitimate contender; his fans seething for him to win the belt. Cena was there to balance it all out, because around that time he was in pretty much every title match. He just had to say the words. Ryback had the match in hand- until this happened:
The Shield laid waste to the two top contenders, and that was only a sign of things to come for the young trio. They'd take out stars like the Rock, the Undertaker, Sheamus, Big Show, Mark Henry, and Jack Swagger- all former WWE or WHC champions. This wasn't the Nexus, who laid waste for all of a few months before their fifteen minutes of fame was up at Summerslam 2010. No, the Shield's reign of terror was felt for well over a year.
The three newbies came in with black turtlenecks and pants, but would soon change to vests and look like a swat team. Their entrance was signified with these words: Sierra, Hotel , India , Echo , Lima and Delta. They would come down the side of the arena through the crowd. The Shield did not conform to the WWE's predisposed notion of rookies. They bucked the system. Those in charge weren't afraid to make them look like the stars. There was never any doubt or hesitation it seemed. Even when people thought in late 2013 and the beginning of this year they were headed for a split, the WWE did what the fans were clamoring for: they made the Shield into good guys.
It's not like it was difficult. If you bring in guys who have wrestling abilities and a unique look and ::gasp:: put them over your established stars...then eventually they will be seen as credible and fans will take to them. Everything seemed to happen organically: the attire, the entrance, the moves, the separate personalities, the shaky camera three man promos. That edginess mixed with their insane chemistry in the ring (likely helped by traveling and being together constantly) is what produced the hottest faction in recent memory in the WWE.
They weren't just new and refreshing. The Shield wasn't just a name slapped to three guys and put on t-shirts for the hell of it. It was a stamp of approval and a vote of confidence from upper management. They helped put the trio in the best position to succeed, and Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose took the ball and ran.
They called themselves "The Hounds of Justice". What did that mean exactly? Was it to balance the power and serve actual justice? It was eventually evident they meant their justice. The slights, the wrongdoings, or however they perceived things. If the Shield didn't like you, you found out pretty quickly.
One of their biggest impacts wasn't "the numbers game" as the announcers loved to say all the time. It was making the six man tag team match an art form of sorts. Six man tag matches became a trademark on almost every RAW and Smackdown. Rollins was the worker and spot monkey. Ambrose was the talker, brains and strategist. Reigns was the muscle, capping off most matches with the three-man powerbomb or his spear. Their finest effort came at Elimination Chamber against the newest stable, the Wyatts:
The crowd was dying for that match in the weeks leading up to it, and all six relatively new stars delivered. The Shield would go on to dominate the New Age Outlaws and Kane at Wrestlemania before taking out Evolution 2.0 out two months in a row. Not by roll-ups or countouts. They did it CLEAN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RING two months in a row at Extreme Rules and Payback. So naturally, my question heading into Monday night was, "Where does the Shield go from here?"
Where do you go when you have been to the top of the mountain? Do you stay there and wait for challengers? That's what singles' stars do. But a stable? How long in the current landscape can one last for? The Shield lasted longer than most, with an incredible run of dominance over many a WWE star. It's the kind of thing wrestlers can make careers off of, like Orton's "legend killer" gimmick, or Goldberg's streak of wins. The trouble with the whole thing is, how do you keep the momentum for all three guys and use it to propel your company into the next generation?
Aristotle once said, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
That formula is what made the group successful. It's what allowed them to be dominant and grow as performers. Now that they have carved their own niches of sorts, the parts' sum must be greater than the whole. The WWE has invested too much for that not to happen. Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose have worked too hard and been too good for too long not to be stars. I'm not saying they are perfect or polished or the best just yet- there is a lot more room for growth. But they aren't flashes in the pan. They are lighting in a bottle that managed to stay around far longer than any stable in recent history.
If Monday is any indication, then WWE is starting off on the right foot. Rollins' turn came out of nowhere. It was foreshadowed at the beginning of the night when Batista quit:
"This will not end until The Shield exists no longer." - HHH
And he was right. It was a "wink-wink" of sorts to the night's final segment. The Shield is no more, and HHH has the upper hand, thanks to Seth Rollins. Now, some have already questioned whether or not Rollins was the right choice. Months ago, WWE hinted at Ambrose being the weak link or the mole. Some even speculated it would be the two of them turning on the assumed breakout star, Reigns. But I believe they did it correctly. Ambrose would have been a little too predictable. Reigns is set to be the biggest star from the group. Rollins has the workrate, but not the mic work.
After joining Evolution- or whatever they are going to be called- his weaknesses will be masked once again, while his strengths will be played to. I could even see a corporate haircut complete with a suit and tie sometime soon.
But for now we sit and wonder, "why, Seth, why?" Hopefully the reasoning is good. It's been too long a time for it to be thrown away with shoddy reasons and easy plot holes.
These three men need to all eventually become stars. The WWE universe had become so attached and invested in them, that the moment Rollins turned was one that will be remembered for quite some time. Just don't make us second guess it, WWE.
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