Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns have been around since their surprise debut in the main event of Survivor Series when they attacked Ryback during his WWE Title Match against CM Punk. Claiming to serve justice in the WWE, the black-clad trio has been unstoppable since its arrival, yet WrestleMania may still be a make-or-break moment for The Shield.
It was a shock when they showed up and attacked Ryback. There were no rumors anyone from NXT would be making a debut. All three were working completely different programs in the developmental system with completely different characters. Rollins and Reigns were the two-top faces in NXT and Ambrose had actually recently completed a vicious feud against Rollins.
In the current WWE landscape, it's easy to be pessimistic about potential new stars. Ambrose was an IWC darling and a favorite of Jim Ross, who likened him to Roddy Piper and Brian Pillman. Seth Rollins was the latest to earn King of the Indies for his run in Ring of Honor. Roman Reign—a member of the legendary Anoaʻi wrestling family—is relatively green in the ring, but has the look and charisma the WWE likes in their main eventers.
It seems like they are all "can't miss" prospects. But in a day and age when it took six years for someone like CM Punk to become the WWE champion and part-time stars of yesteryear dominate the major storylines at the biggest shows, it's easy for even surefire talent to fall by the wayside.
That's why WrestleMania is a big moment for The Shield.
Their first match was at TLC in December when the stable faced off against the super team of Ryback and tag team champions Daniel Bryan and Kane. In a well-booked match that stole the show with a series of brutal spots, The Shield escaped without Ryback losing face.
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At the Elimination Chamber, they faced the even more star-studded team of Ryback, John Cena and Sheamus. It wouldn't have shocked anyone if WWE booked this squad of top faces to beat The Shield as they all moved onto WrestleMania feuds while The Shield was left off the big card entirely. But that wasn't the case at all. The Shield won with a clean victory and remains a persistent threat.
Now, heading into WrestleMania, three guys that weren't even members of the full-time main roster until the end of November will face three of the top names in the company in Randy Orton, Big Show and Sheamus.
Once again, it wouldn't surprise anyone if The Shield were vanquished next Sunday and left directionless heading into the summer. Orton, Big Show and Sheamus are all major stars that could feasibly beat them without anyone thinking twice. However, if the WWE believes in The Shield, they need to book them to win in New Jersey.
There have been rumors for months that Orton wants to turn heel. Sheamus and Big Show have been at each other's throats since early fall in a nasty, personal feud. While all three are big names in the industry, they are united in storyline through shared enemies, not mutual respect. Were I booking the match at Wrestlemania, I'd see that Sheamus eats the pinfall, which would result in a frustrated Orton hitting an RKO on the Celtic Warrior after the match. Big Show chooses not to get involved and walks away while The Shield celebrates.
With another notch in their belts, it'll be time for The Shield to set their sights on some gold, or something bigger. I'd like to see them win the tag titles in some combination and/or go after either John Cena or Triple H.
In another post I wrote recently discussing WrestleMania, I suggested Triple H lose his match against Brock Lesnar and The Shield interrupt his big retirement tribute on Raw. The rationale being that The Shield is out to end injustice and Triple H, the COO and son-in-law of Vince McMahon, is the ultimate case of injustice. He's the source of all corruption in the WWE and they are here to end it.
This could ultimately lead to the New Age Outlaws and X-Pac coming to the aid of their old friend and running mate Triple H in a mid-summer six-man tag where The Shield decimates the old and broken-down remnants of D-X. Finally, they coax Triple H out of retirement for a singles match against Ambrose.
Fantasy booking post-Mania aside, Sunday is a huge moment for Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns. If you believe in The Shield, you know they need to win that match and capture a WrestleMania moment to keep up momentum heading into the summer.