The major storyline that could develop in the fallout from WWE Extreme Rules 2013 is The championship ascendancy of The Shield. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns will face Team Hell No for the WWE Tag Team Championships. Meanwhile, Dean Ambrose will compete against Kofi Kingston for the United States Championship.
The invading super group has dazzled WWE fans by turning the gang attack into an art form. It has rinsed, washed and repeated since November. Surround big star. Pummel big star. Triple power bomb the hell out of him. Sometimes through a table.
The unit has somehow managed to stay fresh in spite of the simple formula. The Shield's wrestling matches are few and far between. They're treated as special attractions when they do happen. Most importantly, The Shield has never suffered a pinfall loss as a team.
Donned in black riot gear. Shooting promos from undisclosed locations. Funneling through live crowds during entrances. This self-serving three-headed monster has been clearly established as an invading stable outside of the WWE roster.
Consider them the anti-superstars on a warpath.
They're billed as a villainous band of martyrs. A gang looking to independently instill its brand of justice in the poisoned, biased WWE. When Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins pounce, in their eyes it's not an attack. It's an audit.
Randy Orton took advantage of a young, defenseless Brad Maddox! Well, welcome to payback, Randy!
Justice, often an explanation of otherwise inexplicable beatdowns, is where it starts and ends with The Shield. These invaders stand for and stand by their own interpretation of justice. It's their purpose.
So why in God's name is The Shield vying for championship titles?
Invasion angles always seem to lose steam once the invading party looks to win the promotion's championship in sanctioned competition. The very concept doesn't make sense to begin with.
The worst example of this came during WWE's Invasion angle in 2001 when the WCW/ECW alliance was accompanied by countless championships from the defunct promotions. The United States Championship, the World heavyweight championship (eventually brought back and awarded to Triple H), and even an extra set of tag team championships littered the belt count for a while.
The ramifications are still felt to this day with additional world and secondary titles leading to diminishing returns. As of this writing, the same Intercontinental championship once held by Randy Savage won't even be defended on the Extreme Rules pre-show.
The invasion storyline is pro wrestling's version of terrorism. PG terrorism in this case.
The facade of mock terrorists looking to independently instill justice in the WWE is pierced once they start playing by the rules. Competing for brass rings. Climbing the same corporate ladder they once undermined in accordance with a mission statement of justice.
The Taliban doesn't look to win seats in the United States Senate to get its message across. Yet the idea of The Shield leaving St. Louis with all the gold paints a similarly dumbfounding picture.
Of course, The Shield is far less violent, so perhaps it should steal any precious championship that the WWE trumpets. Defend these pretty little belts on its terms. If at all.
That's how a real mock terrorist rolls.
The actions need to fit the implications of an abrupt crowd entrance. Otherwise The Shield is just another trio of WWE superstars running in the same rat race that John Cena has paced for years.
Sure, this is true in real life. But pro wrestling invites fans to suspend their disbelief to invest in quality characters. That investment would quickly sour if this crop of characters turns out to be WWE superstars in disguise.
If that's the case, shouldn't they be wearing tights?