The Shield has already made a huge impact in the WWE in just a few shorts weeks, and at least so far, its three members appear to be working as equal members of the group.
There is no clear-cut leader of the trio. Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins all seem to be playing well off each other without any struggle over who the faction’s front man is.
It’s a change from most stables, which typically feature one superstar who steps up as the top guy. The Nexus had Wade Barrett, and even a comedic stable like 3MB has Heath Slater as its lead star.
The only recent stable that had “all equals” was The Corre, and you could argue that, despite that group claiming to have no leader, Barrett was undoubtedly the No. 1 guy in that group as well.
Since The Shield is just getting started out in the WWE, it remains to be seen if the group will continue to be one full of equals or if someone will emerge as the leader of the group.
That leader could be Rollins, Reigns or Ambrose. But another option that many seem to be considering is the former rogue referee Brad Maddox.
Maddox surprised a lot of people when he showed up on Monday Night Raw this week, seemingly out of the blue. After he lost his contract match against Ryback several weeks back, it seemed like he’d be written off of TV for quite a while.
Instead, Maddox received another opportunity to earn a Raw contract, failing once again to do so after being squashed by Randy Orton. The second straight loss certainly brings Maddox’s future on Raw into question.
Or does it?
There could very well be a reason why Maddox, despite those two losses, is still hanging around on TV. What that reason is, we can’t be sure, but you have to think that there are bigger plans for him going forward.
After all, Maddox reportedly has one big supporter in Triple H. According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via WrestlingInc.com), “Brad Maddox is being considered a Triple H guy because for whatever reason, Triple H has taken a liking to him.”
Even though Maddox has been made out to look like an absolute joke of a jobber in his only two WWE matches, reports that Triple H is a fan of his bode well for his future.
In fact, it could lead to Maddox being a part of the WWE’s biggest current angle. It could lead to him being revealed as the man behind The Shield.
There was an interesting little conversation between Maddox and Paul Heyman that took place on Raw prior to Maddox’s match with Ryback several weeks ago. We didn’t hear that conversation, but not long after it took place, The Shield attacked Ryback at Survivor Series.
Coincidence? Probably not.
The more that this storyline develops, the more it’s looking like Heyman is the puppet master behind The Shield. After all, most of what The Shield has done has benefited Punk, and even if Punk isn’t “in” on it with Heyman, that doesn’t mean that Heyman isn’t running The Shield without Punk knowing it.
In fact, that seems to be the likeliest option at this point. The idea is that Heyman will do anything to allow Punk’s reign to continue, even if it means going behind Punk’s back to ensure that he retains his title at all costs.
That’s why the obvious scenario would be for it to be revealed that Heyman, The Shield and Maddox are all in cahoots with one another in some way, shape or form. With Maddox helping Punk win at a Hell in a Cell and The Shield helping him win at Survivor Series, it’s a scenario that makes an awful lot of sense.
The exact details of this angle may not be all that concrete yet, but as The Shield continues to make a bigger impact, it’s becoming more and more clear that the trio is likely involved with both Heyman and Maddox and possibly Punk as well.
What’s less clear is who the leader of the group is and whether or not Maddox is actually a quiet member of The Shield. Because Maddox doesn’t strike most fans as a stable leader, it seems likely that he won’t be revealed as the guy who’s leading The Shield.
But a member of the group? That seems like a safe bet.
Maddox may not be The Shield’s leader, but he is in with Heyman and The Shield somehow. We just don’t know how—well, at least not yet.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!