Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Evolution Of The Shield

The group of The Shield without question has been the three biggest and fast rising stars since they arrived in the WWE from developmental. People who are critics of them say that is by no accident given they are really the first three guys that Triple H put his stamp on coming out of developmental. Those people though could be classed as haters to a degree. Even if you accept the premise that the Shield was given opportunity based on Paul Lévesque it is hard to deny they have cashed in on every chance given to them.

When they were together as a unit, they motivated a roster that before they arrived seemed to be on cruse control and forced everyone to step up there game to another level. Bray Wyatt in a recent interview with Stone Cold Steve Austin on his podcast said the fact the Shield was taken before the Wyatt Family served as motivation for that group once they arrived on the scene in WWE. Both groups have now been broken apart into six individuals and all have been placed somewhere near the top of the food chain. The Wyatt’s success as individuals remains to be seen but is off to a decent start with Luke Harper capturing the I-C Title and Bray having worked a number of high profile programs already in his young WWE career on the main roster. Even Eric Rowan considered the weak link of that group has had an interesting run started as a singles competitor. In terms of the Shield, they have all shown signs of being top stars for years to come since splintering apart when Seth Rollins joined the Authority turning his back on Ambrose and Reigns.

The feud between Seth and Dean Ambrose created some great matches and perhaps the best long-standing feud of 2014 as the two have battled throughout most of the year. While the feud has been put on ice for the time, being their still remains unfinished business with Ambrose and Rollins based on the finish of their Hell in the Cell match. The finish to that match upset many and start of a feud with Ambrose and Bray Wyatt but the door remains open to have the feud continue down the line. In reality, all of the members of The Shield will likely be tied together for their entire WWE careers when all is said and done.

Rollins has slowly built his way to being a top heel in WWE. His teaming with the Authority has been a good learning experience for him to be working along side long-time talents like Randy Orton, Triple H and even Kane. They have positioned him nicely as this future star of the company. This is something that Ambrose and Reigns quite frankly were able to do without much help.

Ambrose is for my money from the start and to present day the most talented all-around member of this group. He is a hell of a performer and has an abundance of tools that can make him very versatile. He has shown the ability to be intense to humorous and shines with a microphone in his hand as much as he can with a steel chair or in just a straight up wrestling contest. Dean Ambrose once Reigns was injured quickly took the opportunity to make himself a top star and a huge fan favorite. I have said this before but when both C.M Punk and Paul Levesque can see talent in someone that is a hell of a stamp of approval. Punk and Triple H likely don’t agree on much but they have on the talent that Dean Ambrose possesses.

Roman Reigns from the very start was seen as the chosen one to some extent. He was positioned to be the muscle of The Shield when they were together as a group. He was well protected by both Ambrose and Rollins who have a vast more experience than Reigns. Rollins and Ambrose are guys that were already somewhat established on the independent scene before coming to the WWE. As opposed to Reigns who is from the start a WWE product part of their developmental system from day one.  He comes from a wrestling family of Samoans he is the cousin of The Rock and his father was Sika. Much like a Randy Orton, Bret Hart or others he is a legacy to the business. He also has been the most judged member of The Shield with fans clearly seeing the WWE looking at him to be a chosen one and someone the company saw as a successor to John Cena someday as the face of the company.

His ill-timed injury has only made things more difficult as fans have had time to watch Rollins and Ambrose grow and become bigger stars while he has been out. People question Reigns in-ring ability and move-set as well as his overall stamina. They point out that he is the weakest of three on the microphone. None of these things come as revelations and really has always been the case. 

Still it is hard to deny the “It” factor that Reigns has in him. Something about how he looks and carries himself that just makes him cool. He is attractive and that has not been lost on the female fan base. He has size, which you can’t teach and has always been a selling point for guys within the WWE that has always leaned to bigger wrestlers through its history.

There has been talk and for some time, that Reigns will likely be the one to unseat Brock Lesnar as the World Heavyweight Champion. A plan that has been talked about ever since Daniel Bryan’s title reign was ended prematurely due to injury. Many feel Reigns is not ready to take on that role and could use more time. Which in a perfect world I would tend to agree with that assessment  

This is not that perfect world though and Brock Lesnar is almost guaranteed to be leaving after Wrestlemania 31. The WWE simply can’t justify the cost of keeping Lesnar at this stage given the failure of their network and lack of revenue to justify paying a part-time employee what they pay him. A bidding war between the UFC and Bellator MMA is also starting to grow some traction and if Brock has any desire to return to the MMA world he is never going to make more than he would come this April.

So when you factor that in the time may not be ideal but given how they have positioned Brock you might not have a choice. Lesnar’s defeat of the Undertaker has been positioned to make the next person to beat him as the one that beat the one that ended the most legendary streak in the history of wrestling. If not Reigns than who do you give such a resume builder too. John Cena clearly doesn’t need it. Daniel Bryan who at one time may have been the guy to take this honor is not healthy enough to grasp it. Rollins and Ambrose while both talented would lack that believability factor to conquer a Lesnar.

Bottom line of all this is ready or not it might just have to be Reigns. The Ultimate Warrior defeated the legendary Hulk Hogan and many felt he was not ready at the time. His run as WWE Champion wasn`t honestly the greatest success as it turned out. Where Reigns differs is he has more maturity than the Warrior did at the time. The Warrior’s addition to the Hall of Fame and sudden death immediately after has quieted the fact he wasn’t exactly easy to work with. When you compare his in-ring work, he had very little in his toolbox. He was never a guy that had many classic matches over his career. You can argue the best of his career came after losing the title facing Randy Savage in a retirement match at Wrestlemania 7.

Reigns still is the right guy for the job, despite fans love of his former Shield members this still is the case. Is the timing perfect and is he the best of the three at the moment. No not even close but can he grow and benefit the most from a title run right now I think the answer is yes.

Roman Reigns doesn’t come off to me as a dumb guy and knows that everyone will be watching when he returns in later December based on the latest we have heard from him. He will need to bring his “A” game in order to fight off a fan base that could likely not jump on board the ride to him being crowned the Champion come Wrestlemania 31. He saw the other side of that equation at last year’s Royal Rumble as he was the last to be eliminated by Batista who had returned for a run at the WWE Title.

The Shield have established themselves at the top of the WWE and are not exactly waiting to have the old guard of John Cena, Randy Orton and others step aside to have them take over. They have fought and earned all they have gotten and debating on who is the best of trio will be an on going saga for the next decade. The one that will have the hardest fight in earning that respect will be Roman Reigns. This is something that he has probably known from the very beginning.