Thoughts From Across The Pond 04.03.14. Why The Shield Should Remain A Unit
Posted by Alex Watt on 04.03.2014
After sixteen months of dominating WWE, the signs are that a Shield split is imminent. However, fresh off their babyface turn, the “Hounds of Justice” are hotter than ever. 411’s Alex Watt takes a look at why Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns should stick together…
Believe in the Shield: Why Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns should remain a unit
The Shield's peerless 16-month run of dominance in the WWE has been a joy to watch.
The three man unit of Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins have been spared the start-stop booking which has saddled so many prospects in the promotion and, as a result, the "Hounds of Justice" have been one of the few genuine success stories that WWE has produced over the last year and a half.
While Dolph Ziggler sits around wondering where it all went wrong over the last 12 months, the Shield continue to go from strength to strength.
The group have been taken in a new direction over the past couple of weeks, being positioned as fan favourites following their babyface turn over "Director of Operations" Kane.
It is a welcome change for the Shield, who have been bad guys for the majority of their run in the promotion. That began to change during their feud with The Wyatt Family where, despite both factions being heels, it was the Shield who were booked to play the more sympathetic, babyface role in their matches.
Roman Reigns is clearly being bred as the breakout star of the group. He has the look, the physique and the family lineage that Vince McMahon and his cohorts love.
Smartly, the inexperienced Reigns was placed in the group with superior workers Ambrose and Rollins to help disguise his weaknesses, protect his hard-man identity and allow him to learn on the job from his more experienced team-mates.
The WWE now feels the time is right for Reigns to go solo. Along with Bray Wyatt, Big E and Cesaro, the company is set to put their promotional muscle behind the 6'3" Samoan-American in the post-Wrestlemania season.
Reigns has already received some big moments over the last few months; a dominant winning performance in the Survivor Series elimination match in November and breaking the Royal Rumble elimination record in January, tossing 12 men over the top rope to break Kane's long-held record, before finishing as runner-up to Batista.
Roman Reigns has even been referred to as "the heir apparent to John Cena" among those in WWE. High praise, indeed. Not to mention high expectations for the 28-year-old.
The plan, if the rumours are to be believed, is for Rollins and Ambrose to turn on Reigns and kick him out of the group. That would leave Reigns free to be positioned as a heroic solo star, while Rollins and Ambrose continue to tear it up in the tag team division.
Rollins' and Ambrose's great match with "The Real Americans" Jack Swagger and Cesaro on Raw last Monday will have given WWE confidence in the two men's potential as a tag-team.
But why does the three-man unit need to break up at all?
For starters, it seems a waste to split up a unit who have consistently produced some of the best matches on television and Pay-Per-View from late-2012 to date. Their showdown with fellow three-man unit The Wyatt Family at February's Elimination Chamber PPV was the most entertaining match WWE have hosted thus far in 2014.
Roman Reigns may be WWE's pick for the breakout star of the unit, but his solo performances in recent weeks have suggested that he may not be quite ready to go it alone.
Reigns' poor one-on-one showings against the likes of CM Punk and Bray Wyatt might have caused a rethink backstage. Both clunky and disjointed, the matches were a disappointment.
In addition, the last few weeks have shown that the fans may be unwilling to accept Rollins and Ambrose as heels.
For a long-time, Seth Rollins looked like the odd man out in the Shield. Despite being the most talented in-ring performer of the three members, he was often booked to take the beatings and pinfall losses for the unit.
Not any more. In recent months, Rollins has looked far more the breakout star of the Shield than his more muscled counterpart. His wild hot tag sequence in the aforementioned match with The Real Americans, as well as his thrilling dive sequence in the 6-man rematch with the Wyatt Family, had the crowd going wild.
Those audience reactions may give the WWE some pause for thought.
Rollins, like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan before him, comes with a glowing indie reputation. A former Ring of Honor World Champion Rollins, then Tyler Black, assembled an inspired body of work on the U.S independent scene between 2003 and 2010, before he was signed to a WWE developmental contract.
Rollins' / Black's matches in ROH with the likes of (a pre-WWE Daniel Bryan) Bryan Danielson, Nigel McGuiness and, especially, his June 2010 title defence against Davey Richards – which still stands as one of the best matches held in America over the last decade - are all worth seeking out.
Dean Ambrose, too, comes from an independent background, working under the moniker Jon Moxley in promotions such as CZW and Dragon Gate USA. The wild, nutty Ambrose is the most well-defined character in the Shield and its most confident mic-man.
The landscape in WWE has changed in recent years. The reactions of the "WWE Universe" have caused a drastic change in the type of wrestlers at the top of the card.
CM Punk reigned as WWE champion for a record-breaking 434 days and, try though they did to hold him back, WWE ultimately had to embrace the crowd reactions to Daniel Bryan and position him atop the card.
The majority of WWE's audience want to see fresh names at the top of the pile and want great wrestlers given their due. They have certainly made those feelings known at live shows in recent months. Talent like Rollins and Ambrose could well benefit from this change in perceptions.
It is very possible that Ambrose and Rollins will swerve-turn on partner Reigns at the conclusion of their 6-man tag match against Kane and the New Age Outlaws at Wrestlemania.
The seeds of dissent in the group have been sown and though that storyline has taken a backseat since the Shield's babyface turn, it would not be a surprise if WWE went ahead with its original plans.
I, for one, hope the WWE sees sense and keeps the Shield together. Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns are stronger as a unit and there is nothing stopping the WWE from using Reigns as a singles wrestler, while Rollins and Ambrose remain a team, without the predictable split-angle.
A group of the Shield's talent and workrate is invaluable to the WWE; they have proven that they can work with any team or three-man combination and produce a memorable match. Why risk losing that for the sake of a short-term break-up storyline between the members?
Not since the likes of the Four Horsemen and the Fabulous Freebirds have three or more wrestlers remained a unit for many years. It would be a welcome change, and the Shield would be among illustrious company, were that pattern to change.
If the Shield stays together, they would stand as a welcome anomaly to the usual predictable WWE booking and have the potential to stand as a legendary unit in pro-wrestling history.
Believe in the Shield, WWE.
What do you think? Should the Shield stick together or is it time for The Hounds of Justice to go their separate ways?
And that'll do it for another week.
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