Monday's edition of Raw was a show full of surprises as the Slammy Awards were contested and there were a number of superstar returns, but unquestionably the most shocking event of all was the debut of NXT Wrestling Champion Big E Langston, who took out John Cena during his match with Dolph Ziggler.
Raw closed with a mixed tag-team match that pitted the duo of Ziggler and AJ against Cena and Vickie Guerrero. Both AJ and Vickie left the ring at one point, though, so it became a one-on-one rematch from TLC. When Cena gained the upper hand, however, AJ returned to the ring with Langston in tow and the massive youngster hit Cena with his Big Ending finisher.
The show ended as Langston stood over Cena's prone body, AJ skipped around them and Ziggler looked on with a puzzled expression on his face. While there is no doubt that Langston's assault on Cena immediately makes him a focal point in the WWE, it remains to be seen what his motives were and what involvement he'll have moving forward.
There are a few possibilities, but the most obvious is that he is either a part of The Shield or working with them in some manner. NXT stars Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns have taken the WWE by storm with constant attacks on top stars as well as a victory over Ryback and Team Hell No at TLC.
The Shield has maintained that its goal is to stop injustice within the company. While that may be true, its actions have clearly benefited WWE champion CM Punk and Ziggler more than anybody else. Langston saved Ziggler from what appeared to be certain defeat at the hands of Cena, but there had to be a bigger reason for his debut.
A bit earlier in the night, Ziggler dashed to the ring following a Sheamus attack on Big Show and was ready to cash in his Money in the Bank contract. The Show Off was stopped, however, by Cena. Ziggler had retained his Money in the Bank briefcase against Cena the night before at TLC with help from AJ, and Cena was obviously still upset.
With that said, Cena's actions could definitely be construed as unjust. He had no business in Ziggler's affairs and came off looking like a sore loser who didn't want Ziggler to benefit. Because of that, Cena would have been a prime candidate for The Shield to attack on Monday. Langston did the dirty work instead, though, so he likely has some type of affiliation with the group.
It is also important to consider what role AJ has in all of this. She was the one who led Langston to the ring, and if Langston is linked to The Shield in some way, then AJ is linked to it by proxy. It may seem convoluted, but everything is starting to make sense to me as I believed that AJ, Vickie, Ziggler, Punk and Paul Heyman were all working together when the AJ and Cena affair storyline started.
The WWE seemed to swerve away from that, but it definitely looks like a strong possibility now. Vickie has been acting as though AJ is her biggest enemy, but it looks as though Vickie has been setting Cena up in retrospect. Her presence at TLC prompted AJ to come to the ring and ultimately push the ladder over. Also, Vickie was the one who set up the mixed tag match on Raw.
She and AJ likely collaborated and that is why both of them left during the match. All of the animosity between AJ and Vickie has been an act meant to destroy Cena and further Ziggler, and that continued to be the case on Raw. There were tons of clues that they were working in lockstep early on and that once again appears to be the case.
It's almost as if Vickie is secretly signing NXT talent to Raw and is now using AJ as a diversion so that nobody uncovers her tactics. Whether Langston is a member of The Shield or simply an extension of it, he is part of a much bigger plan that will likely result in the ultimate heel stable coming to fruition with AJ, Vickie, Ziggler, Punk and Heyman leading the way alongside a handful of NXT rookies.
There is no doubt that Langston is an intriguing figure due to his pure size and strength, but I don't see him playing a big role as a wrestler for now. He'll likely continue to do run-ins that benefit Ziggler, much like The Shield. Langston has potential, but he is still fairly green and probably isn't ready for the big time, so look for him to serve in a bodyguard type role for the possible heel group moving forward.
Perhaps Langston is the future heel answer to a guy like Ryback. Punk is going to have to defend his title against Ryback at some point before Royal Rumble, and rather than having The Shield attack again, Langston could potentially be the guy to help Punk retain as he looks like he can go toe-to-toe with The Big Hungry.
Whatever the case, I'm sure we'll be seeing Langston quite a bit in the coming weeks and he figures to play a role that is very similar to that of The Shield, even if he isn't revealed as a member of the group in the immediate future.