The Shield's 7 Candidates for a 4th Member
The Shield looks fantastic with just three members, but that doesn't mean it won't grow.
Ever since the NXT trio debuted at Survivor Series, there has been a lot of speculation that at least one, if not more than one, member will be added to the group.
While The Shield doesn't necessarily "need" more members, the WWE's "more is better" attitude may make it happen anyway.
Could it be an established veteran that steps up as the faction's leader, or could it be another NXT star who joins The Shield's quest to take over the WWE?
Of course, it may end up being no one at all, but should the WWE go that route, there's no shortage of potential candidates to join the group.
Here are 7 potential candidates for The Shield's fourth member.
7. Corey Graves
Known as "Sterling James Keenan" on the independent circuit, Corey Graves is one of the standouts of NXT.
In fact, now that the members of The Shield are on the main roster, Graves is arguably the best talent in NXT and its most main roster-ready talent.
He recently worked a number of WWE house shows, too, which is usually a sign that he could be headed to the main roster sooner rather than later.
While Graves isn't the biggest guy, he's got a ton of experience (made his debut way back in 2000), and he has a unique look that would help him fit in is a heel with The Shield.
Although Graves may not be someone we've heard a ton about, The Shield has been used as a way to debut top NXT talents and he definitely fits that bill.
Should the WWE want to bring up more NXT stars to the main roster and use The Shield to do so, look for Graves to have as good a chance as any NXT star to get the call-up.
6. John Laurinaitis
John Laurinaitis has been off of TV since being removed from his position as Raw GM back in June, but there's been talk that he'd return to TV essentially since he was written off it.
While Laurinaitis certainly has his detractors, he did develop into one of the WWE's most hated heels earlier this year, and bringing him back into the mix is definitely possible.
The Shield doesn't need to have a leader per se, but if the WWE chooses to give it one, why not Laurinaitis?
After being unceremoniously ousted as GM, he has a reason to hold a grudge against the WWE, and The Shield could be his way of getting revenge on the company.
The logic is this: If Laurinaitis can't run Raw and SmackDown, he will do all he can to run the WWE into the ground.
While this all hinges on whether there are firm plans to bring Laurinaitis back to TV, this is a logical scenario that might very well play out.
5. Kassius Ohno
When The Shield debuted, Roman Reigns was somewhat of a wildcard, a guy who even hardcore fans didn't know a ton about.
While Reigns has more than delivered so far, there was a lot of initial talk that he should have been replaced in The Shield.
His replacement? Kassius Ohno.
The reasoning for this was that, like Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, Ohno made quite the name for himself on the independent scene. Thus, debuting the three together would make sense because of their supposed indy connections.
Of course, there's also the belief by many that Ohno is ready for the main roster, and The Shield would have been a great way to get him there.
While Reigns ultimately turned out to be the third member of the group, that doesn't mean that Ohno won't become the fourth.
After all, he may now be the most talented and polished superstar down in NXT.
4. Brock Lesnar
There's been consistent chatter that The Shield is somehow linked to Paul Heyman, and if it is, it might be linked to Brock Lesnar, too.
Speculation that The Shield is involved with Lesnar has only increased recently with the faction mentioning that it would bring "the sword" multiple times on TV.
It remains to be seen, though, whether "the sword" is actually just a clever name for the group's leader or a red herring meant to make us think it's Lesnar.
While Lesnar obviously doesn't need a stable (he excels as a monstrous loner of sorts), it could be fun to see him join forces with The Shield for a takeover of the WWE.
Although The Shield is doing fine on its own, Lesnar would bring even more credibility to the trio and certainly add an interesting twist to any future storylines it might be involved in.
Could Lesnar, in fact, be "the sword?" Maybe. Maybe not.
3. Big E Langston
This week's Raw ended with a major surprise: The debut of Big E Langston.
In the middle of the show's main event, Langston walked down to the ring alongside AJ Lee and then destroyed John Cena with his finisher. This shocking twist has now opened up all kinds of possibilities.
There are, quite literally, countless scenarios that could play out now that involve Langston, AJ, Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Vickie Guerrero and others.
But one scenario that we naturally have to mention is that Langston is actually the fourth member of The Shield.
Yeah, Langston didn't debut with the same attire that The Shield did, and he could simply be working for AJ, Vickie or even Ziggler. But to be honest, anything seems possible when it comes to the WWE.
Langston could indeed be working for The Shield somehow someway, and it may ultimately be revealed that he is the fourth member of the group.
After all, every member of The Shield is an NXT stud, and Langston is one, too.
He may not look like a natural fit in the group, but the fact that he debuted not long after them certainly makes it possible that he's a part of it.
2. Brad Maddox
There's been a long line of weird happenings that seem to link Brad Maddox to The Shield.
He, of course, was the referee who screwed Ryback out of the WWE Championship at Hell in a Cell. A month later, The Shield screwed Ryback out of the title again.
There was also that odd backstage conversation between Maddox and Paul Heyman that took place on Raw, but has never really been brought up since then.
No one seems to be sure why Maddox is hanging around or what his intentions are, but the fact that he's still hanging around is reason enough to think he might have something to do with The Shield.
Maddox is no longer a referee, and he's not a contracted wrestler. So why is he here?
There are tons of possible answers to that question, but given all that's happened over the last couple of months, most of those answers lead back to The Shield.
Maddox could simply be in cahoots with Heyman and The Shield or could actually be the leader of it.
Either way, it appears that Maddox and The Shield are somehow connected.
1. CM Punk
If anyone has benefited from The Shield, it's been CM Punk.
The Shield helped Punk retain his WWE Championship at Survivor Series, and since then, has spent its time attacking most of the WWE's top stars.
One star it has spared? Punk.
Although Punk still claims that he has nothing to do with the trio, it's becoming more and more apparent that his claims may not be true.
Punk is a heel, and heels lie. If he says he's not in cahoots with The Shield, we have exactly zero reasons to believe him.
He has proven to be a fantastic stable leader in the past, and as the WWE's most despicable heel, it would make sense for him to lead a trio of three heels who are turning the WWE upside down.
After all, Punk aligning himself with Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose sounds like a match made in heaven.
Perhaps that match has already been made.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!