The Shield has been one of the WWE’s few unqualified successes over the past year, but the overuse of this group has been to the detriment of the rest of the roster.
In turn, the overall quality of the television program the company produces has suffered.
This should not be mistaken as a comment on the three Superstars’—Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose—ability. All three have maximized the opportunities presented to them, and they should go on to be top names for many years to come.
Nor should this be seen as a criticism of the way The Shield have been built up. Undefeated streaks against top opponents, particularly when those wins are on top pay-per-views, create the aura needed to believe that new wrestlers really can beat established veterans.
The issue instead stems from the WWE’s decision that The Shield needed to show that they were willing to go after anyone.
This outlook was made clear in the mission statements that they pronounced in their vignettes. However, WWE appears to have decided that it needs to show the group attacking everyone as well. This has resulted in The Shield ambushing every major face in the WWE already.
There are two main problems with this strategy. The first is simply a case of this group running out of fresh opponents very soon. This is quite astonishing considering that the group has only had 20 or so matches between them as main roster talent.
Of course, the official match count is not a great representation of how much television exposure the group has had. This figure could be doubled, or even tripled if run-ins were included, but this still does not justify the fact that the group have attacked almost every significant character without having a meaningful feud.
Had WWE’s creative team been more patient, there would have been the opportunity for The Shield to have had two or three major feuds by now.
The closest that the group has been to this was their rivalry with Randy Orton and Sheamus in the run up to WrestleMania. Yet there was as much emphasis on whether these two could trust Big Show as there was about the threat The Shield actually presented.
Now The Shield appear to have turned their attention to The Undertaker, who is being supported by Team Hell No. Daniel Bryan and Kane were attacked by the group several months ago. It is unlikely this will turn into a long-term feud either though, as The Deadman has been mostly-retired for several years and it would be surprising if he comes back for a long run with the WWE.
The Shield need to establish a long-term feud, otherwise any rivalry will feel old even thought it hasn’t really happened.
The second problem originates from the WWE’s reaction to their top faces having to take a loss against The Shield.
To maintain the illusion of strength around these hero characters, WWE’s creative team have made sure these wrestlers dominate every other opponent. This has created a major gulf between the mid-tier heels and the faces who sit on top of the roster.
All have losing records, and only one—Cesaro against The Miz on two separate occasions—has picked up a victory at a pay-per-view. All these men have been tipped as future WWE or World Heavyweight champions, but they are all going to need rehabilitation in the eyes of the fans to be considered true challengers.
Current World Heavyweight champion Dolph Ziggler is not exempt from this backlash, despite his position. He suffered just as badly as the fore-mentioned quartet before cashing in the ‘Money in the Bank’ contract.
CM Punk could also be included on this list of victims, as he was also losing a lot to those defeated by The Shield before engaging in his WrestleMania program with The Undertaker.
This policy has really hurt the WWE, especially with its current injury crisis.
The presence of too many losses has made it impossible to insert any of the initial four into a top program to compensate for the loss of Punk, John Cena and The Rock. Instead, creative’s recycling of Jack Swagger, Alberto Del Rio and Ziggler has been used to fill in the gaps. WWE’s over-compensation to keep its faces looking superhuman has become clear.
There is a strong possibility that The Shield will be thought of as one of the great wrestling gimmicks in the future.
Whether this happens or not will be dependent on the group having memorable feuds against strong opponents who offer different and interesting challenges. The roster has to be strong for this to come true, and the WWE’s lack of depth in this area is obvious to all.
So for The Shield to be best utilized, the WWE needs to stop overusing them.