WWE's Success with The Shield & Why the Gimmick Is Working

Tom ClarkFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2013

photo by wwe.com
photo by wwe.com

Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns continue to impress every time they’re in a WWE ring. The men known collectively as The Shield have gone far beyond many fans’ expectations as they continue to dominate every Superstar put in their path. But why exactly is it working?

There are several factors contributing to their success of course, not the least of which is the booking.

Let’s face it—these guys are getting more open doors than Bill Goldberg in WCW.

From the first night it debuted, slamming Ryback through the commentator’s table, to its subsequent attacks against Randy Orton, Kane, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus and John Cena, The Shield has been on a roll. It has been spotlighted at the expense of established Superstars, former WWE and World champions, guys who—for the most part—had to work their way up through the ranks.

Just imagine being one of the Superstars that have been assaulted by The Shield and having to lay down for three unproven workers.

On live TV. With the world watching.

But the truth is, when you are a pro wrestler, especially in WWE, then you go with the game plan. If the situation calls for you to make the new guys look good by being laid out, then you go to the ring and do what you’re told. The only concern is that the angle makes sense and the guys involved can handle their end of the deal so you are not left looking weak and can live to fight another day.

That brings me to the second factor in The Shield’s success: It is living up to the image.

When fans see Ambrose, Reigns and Rollins, they don’t necessarily see three NXT stars following a storyline and acting as directed. They see three rebels who are working together to wreak as much havoc as possible.

The Shield is over. Pure and simple.

They are very believable in their roles, each man is doing his part with attitude, intensity and charisma. Fans are reacting because more often than not, The Shield truly does feel like a band of vigilantes that does what it wants, when it wants.  

They believe in The Shield.

But even going all out with their characters could not completely get the job done. At some point, fans need to begin seeing some results in the ring. In other words, they have to be able to work.

For me, this is perhaps the biggest key to The Shield’s success in WWE. Each man is getting the job done in the ring. No matter who they face or how big the match is, Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns are very productive, solid workers who are not just going through the motions.

They are using The Shield as the vehicle that it is, a way to showcase their individual abilities on the main event stage. If they can withstand the bright lights on that level, and all the pressure that goes along with it, then that will surely bode well for them when the time comes for the members of The Shield to go their separate ways.

With all that has happened since the night it first invaded WWE, The Shield has carved out its own unique niche. Though some fans are still comparing it to The Nexus or other factions that came before, the fact is that The Shield is different. It is standing on its own, independent of any group who preceded it.

And eventually the allure of The Shield will be less about its vigilante union than it will be about each member as an individual worker. And when that day comes, fans can point back to this angle and see it for the successful starting point that it most certainly is.

The Shield is the perfect example of what WWE can do when all of the key elements are in place and the components are clicking together in full working order. No matter what happens from this point on, nothing can change the progress that has been made with this group of would-be main event Superstars. For The Shield, like so many other factions before it, its run will eventually come to an end.

For Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, their journeys are just beginning.