Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Future of The Shield in WWE

When you look ahead to the WWE in say five to ten years, it is hard to deny that The Shield is likely the driving force of this promotion. It becomes easy to make comparison and let’s face it this makes for interesting conversations and articles like this one. The great ones in any field are not looking to be the next anyone they are looking to be the first them in history. If Michael Jordan wanted to be the next Magic Johnson, would he have been as great?  It is kind of a question without a true answer and the only answer lies with in the person that is being compared to someone else. Still we are compelled to think the answer is probably not. Is John Cena the modern Hulk Hogan?  You certainly see the similarities in them but to say they are identical in nature is an insult to both in a way.

With all of this in mind, it is easy to pigeonhole The Shield and say whom they will ultimately be compared to in this current era.

Roman Reigns is the next chosen one and the man that the WWE sees as the successor to the legacy of John Cena. They have protected him and treated him differently from the very beginning. So was John Cena in his start in this company. He walked out and challenged perhaps the best technical wrestler and legit Gold Medallist Kurt Angle. That is a hell of a debut and if that was not enough, he was offered a handshake from the Undertaker. Is their an endorsement the WWE both as a company and as fans that is respected more? That is a hell of a way to launch a career. Reigns along with Ambrose and Rollins laid waste to the Undertaker in a very rare Non-Wrestlemania appearance for the deadman. He was the guy delivering that big blow with power-bomb that would be Roman Reigns the next one. Even back, then he was perceived of in that high regard. He also beat down a list of superstars with the help of Ambrose and Rollins that could fill the WWE Hall of Fame. The Shield as a group had perhaps one of the most impressive first years in wrestling in history that no faction can rival as raw rookies and few individuals can compare. Reigns has always been treated as special one in that group. 

Dean Ambrose is a “CM Punk guy,” and has been long before he joined up with The Shield. Many are aware of the match that Punk went out of his way to have with Ambrose down in FCW before there was an NXT or a performance center. Ambrose is the next Punk to some extent but who he really reminds people of is the guy that Punk lists as one of the people that motivated him to get in wrestling Rowdy Roddy Piper and the comparison to Ambrose is striking and obvious. Like Punk, he may not be the company’s first choice to be the guy but he has the most complete package. He can wrestle, he can talk and boy can this man sell. Dean Ambrose makes every single body movement matter. He speaks as well with his body language as he does with his mouth. If you were to evaluate The Shield based on where they all are now in terms of talent, overall the guy who is number for the majority of people that understand this business on any level is Dean. Much like Punk, he can make that claim to being the “Best in the World” to some extent. At least the Best of the Shield is a very real claim that he can make. What Punk and Ambrose share most of all is being very different and in a way that grabs and demands your attention.

I have no idea if Seth Rollins has ever caught a bad guy in real life like the man I would compare him too. Daniel Bryan is the guy that you can most see in Seth Rollins. They have a lot in common when you stop and think about it. Ok Daniel does not have two colours of hair and likely never will but still there is a lot they share. Both are former Ring of Honor World Champions. They both are considered as far better in-ring performers than they are compelling talkers on the microphone. They share a fast risk taking ring style that was what made them what they were in Ring of Honor. Rollins like Bryan in the group of The Shield was always viewed by the majority as the one that might not make it. Reigns was the company’s choice, Dean was the people’s choice, and Seth was that other guy. CM Punk was dropping pipe bombs and feuding with John Cena trying to become the number one guy in the company, Bryan was losing his World Title to Sheamus in seconds at Wrestlemania to move on to being saddled in a tag-team with Kane that was seen as him being buried. We know how the story went from there in which Bryan had fought the odds to get to the top. Despite all of the fan support his “Yes Movement” had built, if CM Punk does not walk away and Batista is not booed out of the building at the Royal Rumble, where would Bryan be? The answer would have been a match with Sheamus again if you believe the stories that were out there about the projected Wrestlemania card. Instead, he got a storybook Wrestlemania 30 only to have injury take it all away soon after he climbed the mountain to the top.  Rollins like Bryan had in the past holds the Money in the Bank briefcase. Bryan freely admits when he had held the case he expected he would be the guy that failed to cash in and win. He would in fact cash in and become the World Heavyweight Champion. Seth is thought of in a similar light, as I do not think despite the briefcase, many people see Seth as becoming the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

The thing that makes these three unique from the three comparisons that we have made for them is they all have a story that binds them together in The Shield. That is something that is different and adds an element to their story that is unique. Much like we see call backs to days gone by with acts like DX, Evolution and others so too should The Shield expect to re-unite and separate as time marches on. No matter what the future holds for all three the story of all of their careers will be connected to each other through the two and half years they spent together as The Shield.

They also face a potentially much deeper pool of talent shooting for that top spot on the food chain beyond their trio. The amount of talent under the WWE umbrella has never been higher with the development of the performance center and NXT. The Wyatt’s and specifically Bray Wyatt has enjoyed a similar path to the main roster that The Shield enjoyed. He is just one example of a number of guys on the rise some of which we might not have even seen yet.

The fact of all of this talent the WWE has and is developing is a result of the work Paul Lévesque has done with creative. The WWE has a large pool of options to go with going forward. This said Roman Reigns is there option “A” at this point and that is unlikely to change.

It will be interesting to see where Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose will be at in 5 to 10 years. Will they be in those positions of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan in the modern era? 

The future of WWE will be built on The Shield to some extent. They already have earned the respect of the person that matters in Paul Levesque. He is the guy that is destined to be running the show from a creative point of view and these guys were the first three guys that he gave the endorsement too from the developmental system he took over.

Nothing is 100 percent when you look at the future. John Cena as Brock Lesnar pointed out might look vastly different in his position had Brock Lesnar stayed around. Roman Reigns and the new next big thing could find interest somewhere else. Women obviously are into him and that could lead to other options outside of WWE down the line. Not saying he ends up being the same as his famous cousin The Rock and takes over Hollywood but you never know.

At this point Reigns, Ambrose and Rollins are all hunger and looking to take over the top spots in WWE. That has been their clear focus from when they walked in the door. The effort they have put in has had an impact on the in-ring product of the company to some extent. They came in and stood out as three hunger guys that brought it every single night. Yes, Reigns has had his challenges since going to a singles competitor but even in those still has bursts of offence that make him stand out.

The fears people have of Reigns turning into a John Cena to this point have been unfounded. In the interactions, they have had Reigns treats Cena with no respect and that is the right route to go. Time will tell if they neuter Reigns along with his push to the top. The same can be said about Ambrose and Rollins becoming the people’s choices without the WWE giving them their opportunities. Least at this point, they are letting both shine and seem firmly behind them. The direction both Rollins and Ambrose take after being done with each other will be interesting.

In the end, I believe in The Shield as the future of this company as they are currently positioned. They have been the real hounds of opportunity. When Daniel Bryan met his injury woes it was Reigns, Ambrose and Rollins that saw the chance and attacked it.

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