On the March 21 episode of SmackDown, The Shield was on a receiving end of a brutal, 10-on-one beatdown at the hands of Kane, the New Age Outlaws, 3MB, RybAxel and the Real Americans. The Hounds of Justice would gain a measure of revenge at WrestleMania by defeating Kane and the Outlaws in under two minutes.
It was 24 hours later that Kane revealed, during an emotional rant, that The Authority had perpetrated the beatdown of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. Ordered to join Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton in an assault of new WWE World Heavyweight champion, the Shield had different plans.
They hit the ring and stared down the heels before Reigns exploded with a spear to Triple H. Their display of defiance heightened their popularity and set them on a collision course with three of the top stars of the last decade.
A week later, they would find out just how dangerous those three could be. After being beaten down by 11 midcard heels, The Shield was brutalized and beaten down by a reunited Evolution. After a decade apart, Triple H, Batista and Orton reformed their revolutionary faction and worked as one to leave the Hounds of Justice lying in a heap.
The Shield, facing another 11-on-3 Handicap match on the April 25 episode of SmackDown, set out to send a message to Evolution and the entire WWE Universe as they calculatingly took out their opponents in an awesome display.
They dispatched of Jack Swagger, 3MB, Fandango and Curtis Axel before the scheduled main event started, then defeated Alberto Del Rio, Ryback, Damien Sandow, Bad News Barrett and Titus O'Neil later in the night. The entire episode served as the breakout performance of the Shield and proved that they were a legitimate threat to Evolution.
On the final Raw before Extreme Rules, The Shield and Evolution engaged in a heated brawl to close out the show, just moments after Ric Flair made his return to Raw and shockingly endorsed Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose.
The Shield, proving their resilience, withstood an early onslaught from Batista, Orton and Triple H and stood tall.
On SmackDown, Ambrose successfully defended his United States Championship, overcoming another numbers game to defeat Ryback, Del Rio and Axel in a Fatal 4-Way match. The Shield once again stood dominantly and united in the center of the ring to end the broadcast.
The most difficult match to predict on the Extreme Rules card, thanks largely to the heat and momentum surrounding The Shield heading into the event.
The Hounds of Justice are as over as any act in WWE right now and have the potential to become something truly special for the company. They have the cool factor, the presentation is phenomenal and the vigilante nature of the characters appeals to a large portion of the fan base.
With that said, Evolution only reunited three weeks ago. Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista have not teamed together in a decade and despite The Shield's attempts to hint at eventual dissension within the faction, it does not feel like the company would waste the reunion on a three-week storyline and a pay-per-view loss.
There is so much more that could be done with the group, not to mention so much more story to be told between them and The Shield, that they almost have to win to further the program.
Orton should regain some heat following his lackluster WWE World Heavyweight title reign by catching either Ambrose or Rollins with the RKO and winning the match for his faction.