At WWE Elimination Chamber 2013, The Shield illustrated their credentials as one of the greatest factions in WWE history.
In beating Ryback, John Cena and Sheamus, the threesome of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns continued to establish itself as a future WWE main-eventer and a big-time player heading into WWE WrestleMania 29.
What we have learned from this seismic victory is that WWE clearly holds The Shield in extremely high regard. While Nexus' momentum was botched with a defeat at WWE SummerSlam 2010, mistakes from the past seem to have been taken on board.
Beating three of the company's leading stars is no mean feat, and it illustrates that whomever the trio encounters in the future, The Shield will be likely to prevail in any three vs. three situation.
As we count down the days until WrestleMania, The Shield are positioned in an almighty position of strength, especially after their victory over Ryback, Sheamus and Chris Jericho on the January 18 edition of Raw.
Whichever storyline The Shield entangle themselves with approaching the "Showcase of the Immortals," a dramatic variable will immediately be added, especially if Paul Heyman, given his history with the group, plays a key role heading into the event.
The Shield could play a prominent role in WrestleMania given the path of destruction they are building. Another man who promises to as well is John Cena.
Notice how while Sheamus took a clattering from Reigns and Ryback was getting pinned, Cena was left standing wondering just what the heck had happened immediately after the finish at Elimination Chamber.
While this may be a minor, unnecessary complaint from the show, one can examine Cena seemingly being left unscathed from two different angles.
The first is that due to his impending WWE Championship match at WrestleMania, WWE would clearly have been loathe to show the title challenger in a weak light.
Another way of viewing this, from a much more cynical point of view, is that no new stars are ever truly made at Cena's expense.
In taking a look at Cena's recent rivalries against blossoming talent, the incomparably divisive star has fought Dolph Ziggler, CM Punk, Alberto Del Rio and The Miz, amongst others.
Not once did any one of these superstars ever achieve a clean victory, devoid of any outside interference against Cena, and it is a damning indictment of WWE's creative team that this be the case.
Granted, Cena's dalliance with The Shield was a fleeting encounter designed to pass time until his rivalry with The Rock, but Ryback and Sheamus came out of that match looking fragile, while Cena emerged scot-free.
As Cena moves on to greater things, Ryback took a clean pin in the battle, so it is hard to judge exactly what lies in store for "Big Hungry."
The Shield have continued to best him emphatically at every given turn, with his character taking blow after blow in this rivalry. No matter whom he teams with, Ryback cannot seem to claw a victory from anywhere.
This is not necessary too damaging for the muscular mastodon, as fans are often inclined to cheer for the underdog. Given WWE's insistence on their top faces rarely losing, signs of weakness will most likely by encouraged by viewers in this day and age.
Defeat could also imply that Ryback is not truly yet viewed as a main event draw. By taking the pin ahead of Sheamus, he is still behind the "Great White" in the pecking order of WWE's top babyfaces.
Ryback desperately needs a big win at WrestleMania. Few could have imagined, given his dominance in 2012, that he would now be on a run of five pay-per-views without a victory.
Sheamus is in a similar predicament to "Big Hungry." The Irishman is on exactly the same losing path over the last five PPVs, and we may have learned that with both men at low ebbs, big victories might lay ahead.
At Elimination Chamber, The Shield seemed to win not just the battle, but the war as well. It will be extremely interesting to see just how this triumph fares for all concerned as the road to WrestleMania continues.
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