Seth Rollins left WWE fans' jaws agape when he turned on The Shield.
The hatred he inspired with his betrayal, the dramatic shift in his narrative and the new frontier he will traverse on his own will all elevate him. Although WWE's reported main goal with the Evolution vs. The Shield feud was to make Roman Reigns a marquee star, Rollins will also climb a number of rungs.
For Rollins, deserting his partners was a fantastic career move. He now begins his singles run with great momentum, emerging from a stunning moment as a much-talked-about villain.
Roman Reigns stood in the ring with his brothers in arms toward the end of Monday's Raw.
He was set to face Randy Orton in the show's main event. That bout was to follow The Shield's dominant victory over Orton, Batista and Triple H the night before at Payback, but it never happened.
Evolution was short one member after Batista quit to open Raw. As he accompanied Orton to the ring, Triple H didn't seem too disturbed, though. That's because he had a backup plan in place.
For reasons not yet explained, that plan involved Rollins abandoning his partners.
Rollins nailed Reigns from behind with a steel chair. He then floored a stunned a Dean Ambrose before Orton pounced on his fallen enemies.
So ended The Shield.
After becoming one of the most memorable factions in WWE history, compiling a trove of stellar matches along the way, The Shield had fallen apart. Reigns and Ambrose may stick together. They may seek a new third partner, but it won't be the same.
You can't have The Four Horsemen without Arn Anderson, and you can't have The Shield without Rollins.
Regardless of what Ambrose and Reigns do, more of the spotlight is headed Rollins' way. His journey as a singles star is boosted by the heat his backstabbing created.
Fans had grown to love The Shield. While teams like The Prime Time Players, Team Hell No and even Paul Heyman and CM Punk disintegrated, The Hounds of Justice remained a constant from late 2012 on. The trio had become a regular at the end of Raw and in big matches on pay-per-views.
When they showed signs of splintering, it was Rollins who brought them back together. Announcers dubbed him "the architect of The Shield," but he was more accurately the glue of the team.
That's partly why it was so surprising to see him be the one to tear the team down. Ambrose had been the cocky and unstable one. Rollins was so often the voice of reason.
His jump from fan favorite to heel has inspired strong emotional reactions from fans, including someone burning a Rollins action figure.
As one-third of The Shield, he didn't get that kind of individual attention. He's now his own entity, not a part of a whole. Don't count on him simply replacing Batista in Evolution, either. The company has already used a group to make the members of The Shield into stars on their own, so it makes little sense to cram him right back into a stable.
WWE will continue to point the spotlight his way, Triple H's comrade or not.
More singles matches are promised to him. One-on-one feuds are coming as well.
So often Reigns' magnetism and Ambrose's off-kilter behavior overshadowed Rollins' greatness. It was Reigns whom many discussed as a future world champ. Rollins' role with the group was often to provide a match's most thrilling moment.
He's far more than the guy who can deliver the biggest high-risk move, though. We saw that when he took on Daniel Bryan on June 10, 2013.
More opportunities like that one will propel Rollins.
Pit him against Bryan again or have him battle Sheamus or a babyface Cesaro. With a bigger share of the stage and no longer having to share the mic three ways, Rollins will show WWE fans more of what he's capable of. He can better compel an audience the way he did as Ring of Honor champion.
As Miami Herald columnist Scott M. Fishman notes, Rollins took a major step on Monday's Raw.
He will take his next steps as a hated man. He's WWE's Benedict Arnold right now. As he faces his old partners, more cameras will be pointed at him than ever before.
As the close-up frames the newly independent wrestler, expect him to charge toward main event status.
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