As great as The Shield has been since debuting at Survivor Series as a merciless force that is intent on delivering justice to the WWE, they can only sustain momentum for so long with that as their only driving force. The Shield will eventually need something else to sustain credibility, and that can very easily be done at WrestleMania XXIX in April.
In a previous article, I discussed the notion of The Shield chasing the Tag Team Championships and winning them from Team Hell No at WrestleMania. That is certainly the first step, but the WWE might as well knock it out of the park when it comes to The Shield.
Winning the tag titles would be great, since championship gold would legitimize the stable. But the more they win, the better it will be for them moving forward.
Rather than instituting the Freebird Rule, perhaps two Shield members should be designated as a tag team.
My preference would be either Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose or Rollins and Roman Reigns. That would free up either Ambrose or Reigns to chase a singles title. With Sheamus suddenly setting his sights on the Intercontinental Championship, I could definitely see Ambrose or Reigns challenging Sheamus for the belt at WrestleMania.
At the moment it seems as though the WWE may be building toward Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett at WrestleMania, but that is a match that we have already seen on numerous occasions. Because of that, Sheamus could potentially take the Intercontinental Championship from Barrett prior to 'Mania. That would free Sheamus up to put it on the line against a Shield member.
Reigns may look like the best choice on paper as he matches up best with Sheamus from a physical standpoint, but I would give Ambrose the match as he comes off like the de facto leader of the triumvirate.
After Reigns and Rollins win the Tag Team Championships, they would interfere on Ambrose's behalf and help him capture the IC title. In the matter of one night, The Shield would suddenly own two-fifths of the men's titles in the WWE and would look much more legitimate as a group.
I thoroughly enjoy their attacks on the WWE's top stars, and I want them to continue to dish out justice, but they have to have other motivations as well. As good as The Shield is when it comes to carrying out vigilante justice, all of them are fantastic wrestlers and giving them the tag and IC titles would allow them to dominate the tag-team division as well as the mid-card.
In addition to all of that, The Shield could use something else to put them over the top. I'm not usually one for adding to stables as it can often cause them to jump the shark like the nWo, but there are times when it can be sensible. One added member wouldn't harm The Shield, particularly if it's an up-and-comer like Ryback.
The prospect of Ryback potentially joining The Shield is one that I have already discussed, and I feel very strongly that it would be a good move for all involved.
The Shield currently has three members who have immense potential to be world champions in the future, but none of them are ready to take that leap right now. Ryback, on the other hand, has had a couple shots at the WWE Championship and was the final man eliminated in the Royal Rumble, so he would bring instant credibility to The Shield.
After a successful night that includes winning Tag Team and Intercontinental Championship gold, The Shield could interfere in the main event between The Rock and John Cena. Just when it seems like Ryback is coming to the ring to help Cena and Rock, he will instead assist The Shield. Not only would this establish Ryback's heel turn, but it would instantly make him a contender for the WWE Championship once again.
Many have asked how The Shield can possibly go up from here after beating Cena, Ryback and Sheamus at Elimination Chamber. With the exception of winning a world title, the answer is that they can't. Winning other titles and bringing a dominant member to lead the way and vanquish Cena would be a major coup for the group, however.
Ryback has had several run-ins with The Shield and has missed out on several opportunities because of them, but it certainly isn't uncommon for enemies to suddenly come together in professional wrestling. Ryback has seen what The Shield is capable of and can decide that he would rather have them on his side than working against him.
There are a lot of uncertainties when it comes to The Shield right now, but the WWE has an opportunity to establish the group as a force to be reckoned with for a long time to come. Putting gold around the respective waists of Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns would be a step in the right direction, and the addition of Ryback could put The Shield over the top.
The main complaint about The Shield thus far has been that they don't have an obvious direction. Winning titles and focusing their attention on combating the face of the WWE would solve that.
The Shield could be one of the biggest stables in professional wrestling history, and it is contingent upon the creative team to ensure that it continues to flourish.