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How The Shield Have Evolved Over the Last Four Years by Mike Sanchez

November 18th 2012. What happened in WWE that day?

If you said a PPV, well done. If you said Survivor Series, take one point. If you said every match on the card from memory, very well done. Take three points and a cookie.

My memory (via Google) told me it was the WWE debut of three men in black pullovers, combat pants and big boots. They raced through the crowd and into the ring, delivered bow after blow on Ryback before launching him though an announce table. The success of the new faction centred on a few points. They were renegades. They were tough. Just the fact there was three of them meant they didn’t have any serious rivals. Their advantage was always their ruthless and veracious assaults. They didn’t commit to a side, they did what they wanted and as a faction could be considered one of the best there’s been – even if their run was relatively short.

Whatever happened to those three tearaways? With such an instant impact, surely they’d be big players down the road. How about almost four years down the road? Has WWE been kind to these men? Let’s see how the Shield have evolved.

Seth Rollins – The one who broke the shield. Marked as the chosen one right from the breakup, Rollins excelled in his heel run. Leapfrogging the mid-card titles and straight into the World Title mix. His alignment with the Authority cemented him as a top guy. His performance levels, intensity and athleticism made him a credible champion. His mic skills (he was probably the best talker when in the Shield) have improved along the way. Harking back to past heels, he played both the chickens**t and the opportunist very well in equal measure.

At present, the Seth Rollins character is at a crossroads. Now he’s been ousted as the boss’ pet by Kevin Owens, does he stick to the tried and tested methods that brought him success or does he change tactics and forge a new path to the top?

Roman Reigns – The powerhouse of the trio, Roman was going to be top of the pile whether we liked it or not – and most didn’t like it. It’s ironic that Rollins was pushed by the office in storyline and the crowd responded positively to him, yet Reigns was pushed by the office backstage and was hated for it. We cheered the story, but disapproved of the reality. A lot has been written about Roman and I won’t repeat it here, but looking back at where he started, he’s done alright. His talking, while not electric, has improved. His ring work is hard-hitting and he does moves not many others do. He’s held his own against top-drawer established stars and come out of those matches well. A personal gripe about Reigns when he went solo, isn’t a pop at him directly, but at the writers. He shouldn’t have kept the Shield music. Rollins & Ambrose both changed their appearances and their entrances. While we knew who they were, they seemed fresh to the audience. Reigns kept the same look, the same moves and the same music. Just because we loved the Shield, doesn’t mean we’d love Reigns.

At the moment Roman finds himself down the card. He saw the WWE Heavyweight Title taken to Smackdown carried by one of his brethren, and now faces off against Rusev for the US Title. Considering this guy had been a headliner for the past couple of years with little impact on crowd responses – unless you count boos, maybe he needs a time away from the top table.

Dean Ambrose – My personal favourite, I worried Dean would be overshadowed and forgotten about once the split happened. I didn’t want him to be this crazy guy who would be dubbed a ‘lunatic’ for his entire career. After Rollins swooped to steal the title at Wrestlemania 31, Ambrose was always in the title mix, yet never really achieving anything. The worry was that he would be seen as filler or another body to be pinned – how wrong I was.

Ambrose first captured gold while still part of the Shield, winning the US title. While he didn’t defend it very often, he could always claim to be a champion. After snatching his first WWE Heavyweight Title, he’s held on to be part of the main events and the switch to Smackdown can only help him.

Having recently lost the title to the best performer of the past 12 months in AJ Styles, Ambrose is back to chasing the gold, rather than having to defend it. He’s in a good spot, and the outlook looks good for the Lunatic Fringe in the months to come. With John Cena becoming less of the focal point of the show, Ambrose is part of a smaller roster on a show that is doing extremely well under little pressure to succeed. Let’s face it, Raw will always be the flagship show, however what if Smackdown starts matching Raw in ratings? I suppose that’s another column for another day.

In closing, it’s been almost four years since the three men began running riot on WWE television. They’ve had numerous feuds, won plenty of titles between them and are on a good footing for the years ahead. Hopefully in the next four years they’ve achieved even more and improved whatever show they’re on. Should they ever reunite as the Shield? Maybe, but certainly not yet. They’re doing too well on their own for that.

What do you think? Has each Shield member done well out on their own? Will Reigns ever be a crowd favourite again? Is Rollins at a crossroads? Is Ambrose better off on Smackdown? Should the Shield ever reunite? Thanks for reading.