Raw was a very Shield-heavy show with the surprising news of Daniel Bryan's injury. The popular babyface stable was featured in several segments, including an opening segment where each cut an impassioned promo against rival stable Evolution.
Ambrose and Rollins were solid in their roles. Ambrose injected his own brand of zaniness while Rollins took more of a smarmy approach.
Up next was Reigns, whose future as a top star and a front-office favorite has been well documented. Nobody in the WWE, let alone the Shield, has more potential to be a money-drawing mega star. But that's potential, and, Monday night, the real thing didn't deliver.
Reigns seemed nervous and hesitant as he delivered easily the most underwhelming promo of the three. Since their debut, Reigns has fit in just fine as the muscle of the Shield. Often billed as the group's strongest member, no moment has seemed too big for the former Georgia Tech defensive tackle.
But the juxtaposition of an inexperienced Reigns, and his more polished counterparts, was never more apparent than Raw's show-opening segment.
For all who seem ready to see Reigns break out as a singles star, it's easy to forget how much he has benefited from teaming with the Shield.
Early in its run, the Shield took a less-is-more approach with group attacks that culminated in crowd-pleasing Triple Powerbombs.
Even when they began wrestling sanctioned matches, many Shield contests were decorated with plunder, high spots, broken tables and, yes, Triple Powerbombs.
To extrapolate Reigns' success thus far as a singles wrestler, trusted to carry full-length promos and full-length matches, may be too much to ask. After the Superman Punch, Spear and running kick on the apron, there's still about 19 minutes to fill in the prototypical main event match.
The overlying black cloud of Reigns breaking out on his own is that WWE would run the risk of forcing him on fans. The advent of the Yes Movement once again taught us that cynical fans will cheer and jeer whoever they want. If their voices are loud enough, WWE must react accordingly.
If the Shield gets the better of Evolution, and Reigns subsequently breaks away, he will no longer be the young lion trying to oust the old guard.
He'll be the chosen one, just as Batista was upon his 2014 return. As Batista can attest, that is a role open to resentment.
For many reasons, Roman Reigns is better off with the Shield until WWE can book a smooth transition from outlaw to poster boy. Hopefully, by then, he'll be a finished product ready to lead WWE's next generation.
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