Seth Rollins has shined during the most recent period of a seemingly endless surge for the Shield. One month ago, wrestling pundits were already making reservations for Roman Reigns in the main event of WrestleMania XXXI:
Wrestlemania 31's main event: Roman Reigns vs. Antonio Cesaro for the unified trisected quadrupled @WWE championship belts and stuff!— Zany Toboggan (@zanytoboggan) March 18, 2014
Wrestlemania 31 should feature IC Champ Bray Wyatt vs WWE Champ Roman Reigns, Undertaker vs Sting, & Ziggler vs Caesaro vs Bryan. #WWE— Travis Akers™ (@travisakers) March 15, 2014
The Rock should face Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 31, put him over, retire and then get inducted into the @WWE HOF. That sounds good to me.— #TeamLesnar. (@SupportingBrock) February 20, 2014
Jim Ross Says Roman Reigns Could Be WWE World Champion By WrestleMania 31: Plus his thoughts on Cena vs. Cesar... http://t.co/lRNDYfum8c— 411 Wrestling (@411wrestling) February 19, 2014
Reigns was the golden boy of this year's Survivor Series and Royal Rumble. After a pair of strong matches against the Wyatts, however, the focus is now on Rollins. Suddenly, WWE may need to make room for yet another counterculture phenom.
Rollins dazzled fans first at Elimination Chamber and then during the March 3 edition of Raw.
He pulled off career-threatening high spots with no hesitation. His risky feats of athleticism told a story of a proud group willing to go to desperate lengths to prove it is WWE’s top tribe.
He didn’t need to dive off a single rope in order to tell a deeper story during the aforementioned Shield-Wyatt rematch on Raw. Rollins’ dormancy during the finish spoke to the Shield’s turmoil.
Over the past month, Rollins has single-handedly changed the conversation of who the most valuable member of the Shield is.
Such is the brilliance of the Shield, which is the first stable in recent memory—and maybe ever—with three equals.
The New World Order, in all its rebel glory, was led by Hulk Hogan. Each derivative faction of the NWO also featured leaders ranging from Kevin Nash to Eddie Guerrero, who led the forgettable Latino World Order.
D-Generation-X, the WWE counterpart to the NWO, had Shawn Michaels as its unquestioned front man. Triple H later took over the rebranded DX Army upon Michaels’ semi-retirement.
The genre of vigilante stables drowns in its own irony once a hierarchy is established. What kind of outlaws willingly defer to a leader?
Not the Shield.
Through certain points in its successful run, each member has been able to make a strong case that he is the head man.
Upon the Shield’s debut, it was Dean Ambrose who did the heavy lifting on the microphone, making him the assumed leader.
It was eventually Reigns’ turn to shine. Not only did he do so on big stages, his key wins were juxtaposed against inferior (kayfabe) efforts by Ambrose. Now Reigns, not Ambrose, appeared to be the alpha male dressed in all-black.
On the February 24 edition of Raw, it was Reigns who led the charge in a tease of a biblical showdown between the Shield and rival stable the Wyatt Family.
But during a pivotal—and likely short-lived—Shield babyface turn Monday on Raw, Rollins did the honors on the mic.
During his brief promo, Rollins demonstrated a CM Punk-level of confidence. You know? The type that borders on arrogance. His message was enhanced by on-point facial expressions and highlighted by a very fitting, mischievous smirk.
Just like that, Rollins is the most interesting member of the Shield.
Analysts and fans gush over Reigns’ traditional top-star qualities. “Reigns is a future star” has been a popular narrative (from Jrsbarbq.com via Prowrestling.net) pertaining to the well-built Samoan, most notably by WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross. Rollins, on the other hand, is undersized. He boasts not one, but two different hair colors. However, that's the niche appeal that can be just as successful among today's snarky WWE fans.
Daniel Bryan can attest to that.
WWE is currently in the stretch run of its most important time of the year. Ahead of a WrestleMania that will likely be headlined by Bryan, Rollins has emerged as the leader of a group that has no authority.
In true Shield fashion, don’t expect this to last.