During a TLC preview, I said it would be the wrong call for CM Punk to go over The Shield at this point since the move would rush their inevitable split. The execution of Punk's victory, however, was done in a way that perfectly set the stage for it.
Roman Reigns' inadvertent spear of Dean Ambrose at TLC has set the stage for a breakup that could spawn three strong singles careers.
Each member of The Shield is now established as a singular star following a successful run as a stable—therefore, the time is right for the unit's demise.
Last month at Survivor Series, Reigns was responsible for the demise of a team of established babyfaces including Cody Rhodes, Goldust and Rey Mysterio. Reigns' four eliminations were the most of any Shield member, with Seth Rollins' one elimination a distant second.
Reigns was spotlighted as the sole survivor, standing alone as the winner of the best match on the card.
The following night on Raw, Michael Cole made it a point to proclaim his Survivor Series win as "one of the greatest performances in Survivor Series history."
With the Royal Rumble on deck, expect a similarly dominant run from Reigns prior to being eliminated.
Which member of The Shield has the best chance of succeeding as a singles star?
Ambrose may not be as dominant in the ring, but he hardly needed to stockpile wins in order to get over. His rare combination of pure wrestling and promo ability makes him akin to Punk.
Ambrose's time spent in the Dragon Gate USA promotion prior to being signed by WWE allowed him to hone his craft and develop an innovative offense. Throughout its run, Ambrose has been presented as the leader of The Shield. He always speaks first in promos and signs off with the "believe in The Shield" catchphrase.
While Reigns may be hot property as a singles star at the moment, it would be no surprise to see Ambrose take a more organic route to superstardom.
Popular demand has vaulted fan favorites with an independent wrestling background such as Daniel Bryan and the aforementioned Punk to the top of the WWE. This was most recently on display on Raw this past Monday. Bryan received overwhelming cheers and chants during a segment designed to feature John Cena and Randy Orton.
If Ambrose continues to receive opportunities to shine on the microphone, while being showcased as a wrestling machine, he could be next.
Rollins may be the least likely of the trio to become a breakout star given his limitations in charisma and mic skills. But like Ambrose, his strong wrestling skills have been featured several times on WWE television.
Rollins' string of strong matches against Bryan quickly established him as a wrestling sensation to the mainstream WWE fanbase following a successful stint in Ring of Honor. At the conclusion of a particular contest on the June 10 edition of Raw, Jason Powell of Prowrestling.net submitted the following praise:
A very good match. I wasn't a big fan of the early call, though, as Cole couldn't wait to tell us how great it was even when it was just getting started. The crowd was into the match, but we've heard hotter crowds for Bryan's matches lately. Still, though, it was very entertaining and I'm sure we'll be seeing that matchup many more times over the years.
Rollins will have to do his talking in the ring while developing as a complete WWE Superstar, but his potential should not be lost on anybody.
Reigns' accidental spearing of Ambrose will be the first of many payoffs stemming from weeks of tension. Monday on Raw, Rollins and Reigns walked out on Ambrose following his match against Punk.
The group is a lock to disband in the near future. Their individual brands, however, will continue to flourish.