As of last week's editions of Raw and SmackDown, it looks like The Shield is history. Obviously Seth Rollins turned heel on Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose a few weeks ago, but at first it looked like Reigns and Ambrose were sticking together. Now, with new entrance music for both (albeit a Shield remix for Reigns) and a new look for Ambrose, it looks like the end of The Shield as any kind of regular team.
Before it happened, the conventional wisdom about the split was generally something like this:
- Reigns would be fine, as the proverbial rocket would be strapped to him as a rising superstar babyface.
- Ambrose would also be fine, as a uniquely talented heel who was really good at putting a match together.
- Rollins would be risking the most because WWE doesn't always know how to book high-flying babyfaces. There's also a perception of him being "the small one" even if it's not necessarily true since he's pretty tall and only somewhat skinny by WWE standards.
While there was no way that Reigns was going anywhere other than a big babyface push, WWE flipped the script from what was expected. Rollins is the breakout heel, while Ambrose is the talented babyface who could get lost in the shuffle.
What's next for Reigns all depends on how patient the creative team is right now. By all rights, they should continue to take their time with him. He's still fairly limited in singles matches, with the results ranging wildly depending on the opponent. It first became clear that he still needed a lot of work a few months ago when he main evented Raw against Bray Wyatt. The match dragged badly and, strictly on in-ring merits, neither guy seemed close to ready for a main event spot.
A few months later, I'm not sure how much has changed. Reigns has great physical timing and all of the other positives that come with being part of a wrestling family, but when you put him in a long singles match against someone other than a Daniel Bryan type who can help carry a great match, the results are iffy, to say the least. He's constantly improving both in the ring and as a personality on promos, but at the very least, his ascension to superstar status should wait until at least WrestleMania season.
Ambrose is, generally speaking, the opposite of Reigns. As a performer, he's a more experienced, polished worker who can hold his own as a singles main eventer as a heel or a babyface. On interviews, he's the weird, possibly (well, probably) unbalanced counter to Reigns' calm, collected tough guy.
Nobody expected it would translate to a babyface persona nearly as well as it did, but he's done an amazing job tweaking his promos and in-ring style to fit being a good guy.
By all rights, Ambrose should be able to break out as a singles star, maybe even as world champion. He's different from everyone else in good ways and is already over at a high level. For now, though, he won't get that kind of push. Really, it will be hard to tell where this is going until after his feud with Rollins is over. I'm cautiously optimistic, with an emphasis on "cautiously" because he's clearly not the focus right now.
What do you think is in store for them? Let us know in the comments.