When The Shield debuted, they were an unexpected twist that left WWE fans wondering what was next. But now, with nothing having changed, the storyline has already run its course.
With only one match under their belt, the weekly run-ins and beatings are running thin on excitement. The time has come to transform from thugs to wrestlers.
The surprise appearance of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns at the 2012 Survivor Series was a shocker. The three men from NXT ran roughshod over Ryback, allowing CM Punk to score the win over John Cena in the triple-threat bout.
Here you had three upstarts from WWE's developmental show taking out a man who had been suddenly thrust into main-event status. It was a cleverly creative swerve to keep the belt on Punk while at the same time keeping Ryback strong.
Increasingly the three men inserted themselves in the ring, affecting various outcomes. They resembled a new version of the nWo with their blatant disregard for rules and formalities. It felt like the WWE was taking a new step toward rebuilding their product.
But the problem with a good thing, especially in wrestling, is that it only stays good until the next shiny storyline comes along.
This is where The Shield find themselves now. They are on the verge of becoming bland because their current storyline, as it stands now, has run its course.
Ryback is obviously their main target, perhaps because of his meteoric rise to the top. But they can't continue to run in and stop his matches. At this point, The Shield must end the run-ins and become wrestlers once again.
Their lone televised bout at TLC against Ryback and Team Hell No was a brutal beast of a match. It can never be shown on PG television because of its violent nature. Rollins was lucky he didn't snap his neck after he was put through at least two tables from atop a giant ladder.
In that one bout, Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns showed they could hold their own in the ring. It would be no small understatement to say they outperformed the other three guys in the match.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The men in The Shield are experienced wrestlers.
Rollins spent time in Ring of Honor, where he wrestled as Tyler Black and was world champion for 210 days. After signing with the WWE in 2010, he went to Florida Championship Wrestling. In FCW he became the first Grand Slam Champion by winning the heavyweight title, the Jack Brisco 15 medal and the tag team titles.
Reigns spent two years in FCW before moving up to the main roster. He’s also from a multi-generational family of wrestlers. He’s the son of Sika, the WWE Hall of Famer once part of The Wild Samoans. His cousins are Umaga and Rikishi, and he’s related to Jimmy Snuka and The Rock.
Wrestler and promoter Les Thatcher trained Ambrose. As Jon Moxley he competed in Combat Zone Wrestling’s Tournament of Death VIII in 2009. This wild event makes TLC look tame, as it incorporates glass, barbed wire and even light bulbs. Ambrose advanced to the semifinals before being eliminated.
Ambrose has held several heavyweight titles in different organizations. In 2011, Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked him No. 102 in their annual PWI 500.
Just like the nWo didn't stay as thugs but got in the ring and wrestled, so should The Shield. Because at this point, who cares how many people they can beat up or how many times they can screw over Ryback?
Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns themselves are interesting and fun to watch. Their backstage, shaky-cam promos are different enough to stand out and demand attention. But The Shield as thugs storyline is done.
Now it's time to see them in the ring, wrestling and winning titles.
The Shield's storyline has come to a close. Luckily for the WWE, it can only get better from here.