A rebel group that continues to invade WWE shows is the big thing going in pro wrestling right now.
No, it’s not The Nexus—it’s The Shield.
Consisting of highly touted NXT stars Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, the trio made their debut at Survivor Series by attacking Ryback and has since spent most of their time doing the same. The exact intentions of the group remains clear, but regardless, the NXT trio are already creating quite the buzz for itself.
Many of us fans have been waiting to see Rollins and Ambrose called up for months or years now, and they’re finally here. As two of the biggest names on the indy circuit prior to joining the WWE, fans are excited to see what these guys can do on the main stage.
Perhaps that’s why it’s a little surprising that another popular NXT star didn’t get the call-up with them. I’m talking, of course, about Kassius Ohno.
For the third member of The Shield, the WWE instead went with Roman Reigns, a name that really isn’t all that familiar with anyone who hasn’t watched NXT/FCW over the last couple of the years. This is not a knock on Reigns at all, but I would have put Ohno in The Shield instead of him.
Yes, I agree that Reigns comes off well as the silent monster of the group and that he’s a very impressive physical specimen. But he’s also extremely new to the wrestling business.
Reigns signed with the WWE in July 2010, but prior to doing so, he was a football player, not a wrestler. He played collegiately at Georgia Tech before bouncing around the NFL and CFL for a couple of years and eventually making his way to the WWE.
While Reigns obviously has shown plenty of talent (or else he wouldn’t be on the main roster already), it’s safe to say that he’s the rawest talent of the three NXT stars and may not be as ready to wrestle on the main roster as either Rollins or Ambrose. As a result, he’s going to be learning on the fly on the big stage of WWE Raw, which is no easy task.
I’m sure he’s up to the challenge, but as a bit of an uncertainty, perhaps the WWE should have held off on his debut for another year or two and given Ohno the opportunity to make it to the main roster with his former indy buddies, Rollins and Ambrose.
I say that because Ohno is a 14-year pro wrestling veteran who made his debut way back in 1998 and has a boatload of experience. He’s wrestled all over the place (Chikara, CZW, TNA, PWG, ROH, etc.) and has been trained by some of the biggest and best trainers in the business.
From the moment he entered NXT in February of this year, he was instantly one of the developmental territory’s most well-rounded performers and is better in the ring than most of them as well. All of the experience that the 32-year-old vet has gotten over the years has made him about as qualified as any other NXT star to join the main roster.
A promotion to Raw alongside Ambrose and Rollins would have made a lot of sense because you could argue that it would have resulted in the three most-seasoned NXT performers all making it to the main roster at the same time and doing so in the same major storyline.
Of course, there’s also a very simple and obvious connection between Ohno, Rollins and Ambrose: They all made names for themselves on the independent scene.
There have been plenty of guys who have made their way to the WWE’s developmental territory with little to no experience and nothing more than an impressive physique or a background in sports. But Rollins, Ambrose and Ohno are pro wrestlers first and foremost—guys who honed their craft on the indy circuit for years to earn their way to NXT and eventually the WWE’s main roster.
While it’s far too early to label Reigns a bust (I don’t think that will be the case at all, actually), this is about doing what may have been a more logical thing, and that’s putting Ohno in an angle with two other NXT guys who he so closely resembles.
Reigns may indeed turn out to be a huge star one day, but the WWE might have missed out on a golden opportunity to turn Ohno into one, too.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!