The Slowly Crumbling Shield of WWE: Will It Survive in a Universe of Loners?
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Factions in WWE are rare and usually dissolve rather quickly. Perhaps the greatest faction in WWE history is The Heenan Family, if only because they survived in one form or another for many years.
Usually, WWE factions are created to put together low to mid-carders who have nothing better to do (see: 3MB). Proof of this can be seen in past factions of the mid- to late 1990s like Los Boricuas, the Disciples of Apocalypse and, to some degree (in its first incarnation), the Nation of Domination.
This can also be seen in the less-than-successful group, The Legacy, which arguably did not elevate Cody Rhodes or Ted Dibiase (not to mention Manu). More successful factions in WWE like DX or Evolution already had main event stars within them and were used to elevate other members of the group (for example, Shawn Michaels elevating Triple H, and Triple H/Ric Flair elevating Randy Orton/Batista).
Also, WWE presented a neutered version of the New World Order in 2002, which did not make much of any mark on WWE except for Hollywood Hogan returning to the adulation of fans. Even in adding new members (X-Pac, The Big Show, Booker T and Shawn Michaels) to the nWo in WWE, the faction was definitely a shell of its former WCW self. This cannot be blamed all on WWE, as injuries to Kevin Nash and personal problems with Scott Hall held back the last incarnation of the nWo.
The Shield is the best possible hope for a true alliance in WWE currently. Ever since the group made its first appearance at Survivor Series this past November, it has wreaked havoc on all the WWE’s top Superstars one way or another.
How can this momentum keep going in the face of WWE’s history with factions and tag teams? Will The Shield die a slow death of mediocrity like factions before, or will it rise to become the greatest alliance in WWE history?
There are five issues that need to be contended with in order for the excitement and success of The Shield to continue.
WWE's Recent History with Tag Teams
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It was only months ago that WWE announced a new focus on tag teams. A No. 1 contender's tournament was made for Team Hell No’s belts and new teams formed to bolster the tag team division. Fast forward to the present and all that seems to have changed.
Arguably, the best tag team in WWE, The Rhodes Scholars, amicably split up to pursue singles careers; The Prime Time Players are still a team, but Titus O’Neil seems to be headed in a singles career direction with all the singles matches he has had lately; Team Hell No are still carrying the championship, but the focus is more on their relationship than the championship; Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara cannot stay healthy long enough to maintain a regular schedule, unfortunately; The Usos are relegated to performing mostly on Superstars; Brodus Clay and Tensai are best known for dancing without threatening the championship whatsoever; and 3MB are viewed as nothing but a joke, losing matches and looking pathetically inept in the process.
It seems that just as fast as the burgeoning tag team division came back, it has disappeared again.
These recent developments do not bold well for The Shield as a formidable team in WWE. If there are no other teams to take on, The Shield will eventually be left to carry on as a unit only in name. The trio can only attack random Superstars for so long before the shtick gets old. Tag Teams are necessary for The Shield to carry on into the future successfully beyond random attacks.
Going for Championships or Not (What Is the Point?)
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With tag teams seemingly going by the wayside, it only seems appropriate that The Shield should not even bother with the championship. Perhaps they will carry the belts with little opposition for an extended period of time at some point. Otherwise, in the current state of the tag team division, it is quite erroneous to believe that the championship will add any credibility to the group.
Where does this leave the other championships?
The Shield’s mission is to bring justice to WWE. What better way to accomplish this task than to win championships? By having all the gold, The Shield’s power can only increase. But the price for going after championships is that it would split the group and broaden its focus with individual feuds. This has to happen at some point without a strong tag team division to feed The Shield.
Championship reigns are one of the ways that The Shield can maintain itself as a force in WWE. Without achievable goals for The Shield to accomplish, its mission will end very quickly without much effect.
To Add Members or Not Add Members
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The Shield has remained strong thus far because of a resistance to add members to the group.
Unlike WCW’s original incarnation of the New World Order, WWE is in no hurry to add members to The Shield. By not adding members, it makes the group look stronger and gains them notoriety without watering down the core message. The problem with this is where The Shield goes in moving forward.
If it adds members, it will definitely come as a surprise initially. Will other NXT superstars like Kassius Ohno, Leo Kruger or Richie Steamboat join the group? Or will current WWE Superstars tired of their position on the roster join? The New World Order thrived on the concept of who would join next and The Shield could do this as well.
Surprise is an element of success for factions in pro wrestling, and a few defections to The Shield by current WWE Superstars could give the group an extended lifespan. However, in going this route, WWE does risk overexposure and watering down the core members, much like what happened to the original incarnation of the New World Order.
Something has got to give with The Shield in regard to membership. If nothing occurs, the hottest faction around could become yesterday’s news very quickly.
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Paul Heyman’s relationship with The Shield is one of those mysterious questions that never really had any sort of resolution. It was revealed after the Royal Rumble that Heyman paid The Shield and Brad Maddox to work for him. Suffice to say, that explanation of The Shield’s relationship with Heyman is all the explanation that is being given for helping CM Punk.
Of course, WWE can revisit the Heyman relationship with The Shield at any time if the general feeling occurs that the group is becoming stale.
Some speculation, even on WWE.com, suggested a new Dangerous Alliance with Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar, CM Punk and The Shield. A huge alliance of heels could definitely work in WWE’s current “good guy/bad guy” world, much like The Heenan Family in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Unresolved circumstances are not terrible whatsoever. These plot holes in story leave the door open for unexpected twists in narrative. The Shield’s past could work for its continued success in the future.
Going Their Separate Ways
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If all else fails in the coming months, The Shield can disintegrate and the individuals go their separate ways.
Roman Reigns is the monster of the group and will most likely be receiving a main event push in the near future. His athleticism and look will take him extremely far. Before he arrived in WWE, he was being pushed very quickly to the top of the NXT roster.
Seth Rollins is the technician of the group who can do just about anything in the squared circle. He is much like CM Punk in his abilities and should do well. WWE must see something in him as well, because he was the first NXT champion.
Dean Ambrose is the new loose cannon. He reminds me of Brian Pillman and Rowdy Roddy Piper rolled into one. No one sells a move like Ambrose, and he is positively venomous on a microphone.
If these three feud with each other, money will be made. In only a few televised WWE matches, they have proven their worth to the company.
What Do You Think?
The Shield promises that in 2013 it will continue its battle against "injustice."
The Shield is the hottest faction in WWE since Evolution. The impossible was truly accomplished with this faction. All the members were virtual nobodies to fans in WWE when they debuted.
For long-term success, many factors need to be thought out and considered. Where do you think The Shield should go from here?