The Shield provide one of the most entertaining aspects of WWE programming, but something is holding the group back.
It’s not Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins or Dean Ambrose. It’s not anything in particular about any of those three stars. It’s not Vince McMahon, Triple H or any other company official, either.
It’s a weak tag team division.
As just about anyone will tell you, The Shield have taken a considerable step back in recent weeks. Once an incredibly dominant group who handily defeated most of the WWE’s biggest stars, The Shield have been brought back to earth with a few losses and a very evident slide down the card.
At least for the time being, The Shield are clearly a midcard act, and that’s a direct result of a tag team division that, well, isn’t a very good one.
While there appeared to be a resurgence of tag team wrestling in 2012, when a number of teams were being consistently featured on TV, the tag division has gone in the exact opposite direction over the course of 2013.
Team Hell No is no more. The Rey Mysterio/Sin Cara pairing is off. Team Rhodes Scholars can’t stay together for the long haul. The Prime Time Players and Epico and Primo hardly ever get on TV anymore. The Tons of Funk barely generate a reaction from the crowd. 3MB is a joke.
So to give The Shield some semblance of formidable challengers for the WWE Tag Team Championship, the WWE has turned to the Usos—a young, but very talented duo who has never really gotten a fair shot at succeeding.
While it’s good to see Jimmy and Jey finally get their deserved push, it’s also one that’s incredibly hard to buy into. That’s not a knock on the duo. It’s just that they’ve spent so much time jobbing or being left off of TV altogether that it’s going to take much more than a notable win or two (and some great matches like they had at Money in the Bank) for them to be taken seriously as credible threats to The Shield.
Quite simply, The Shield have been booked to be such a dominant group (up until recently, that is) that the WWE can’t just throw anyone in a feud with Rollins and Reigns and expect the fans to buy into it.
After all, if John Cena, Sheamus, Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan couldn’t stop The Shield, then why is anyone going to believe that Jimmy and Jey Uso have a realistic shot at doing so?
Most fans won’t, and this is a direct result of a major problem that the WWE currently has: A tag team division with no credibility.
All of the WWE’s legitimate tag teams—except for The Shield—are, at best, midcard acts and, at worst, hardly ever on TV. On the rare occasion that any of them actually do appear on Raw or SmackDown, it’s usually to put over another tag team or, even worse, a singles performer—like 3MB has done for Dolph Ziggler recently.
In turn, that’s created a tag team division that, outside of The Shield, features virtually no teams that win consistently or get substantial TV time, and thus, are legitimately over with the crowd.
That’s a major issue that is totally killing the effectiveness of The Shield.
Though comprised of great individuals, The Shield are most effective as a group. Thus, they're going to make their biggest impact by feuding with other groups or teams who will try to take them down.
Will improving the tag team division help The Shield regain its momentum?
Unfortunately, the WWE does not have enough possible opponents for The Shield because the creative team has completely overlooked any tag team not named The Shield or Team Hell No in 2013. Now, there’s only one way to fix that issue: strengthen the tag team division.
The WWE has a loaded roster that certainly has no shortage of talented superstars. It’s just a matter of the company either building up the tag teams that it already has or putting two stars together to create a new one.
Why can’t the Prime Time Players get a sizeable push that builds them up as a top tag team? Why can’t two stale babyface midcarders—like The Miz and Kofi Kingston, for example—join forces to strengthen the division?
In order for the WWE to get the most out of The Shield, things like this have to happen. Otherwise, The Shield will be stuck in midcard purgatory, holding useless tag team titles that mean nothing because they have no real opponents to feud with.
The Shield are a bit stagnant right now—not because they’re performing poorly or because they aren’t over, but because they're running out of potential opponents to feud with.
Unless the WWE builds up the tag team division, that isn’t going to change, and The Shield will continue to be an incredibly talented group that the WWE fails to do anything substantial with.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!