7 Years After Debut, Which Former Shield Star Has Brightest Future?

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2019

The Shield currently have a whopping nine world championships between them.
The Shield currently have a whopping nine world championships between them.Credit: WWE.com

Seven years removed from The Shield's unforgettable debut at Survivor Series 2012, it's incredible to see the level of success Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and the now-former Dean Ambrose have all achieved in WWE and beyond.

No one knew for certain when they arrived on the scene that they would go on to become big stars (both together and individually), but the trio got off to a strong start by shockingly attacking Ryback to help CM Punk retain his WWE Championship.

Following in the footsteps of those who made their premiere appearances at Survivor Series, such as The Rock and Kurt Angle, The Shield made a major impact in their first night on the main roster and never looked back.

From there, they managed to maintain that momentum and were booked better than any other NXT call-up that proceeded them.

It would have been easy for WWE to let The Shield lose steam following their hot debut, but to the company's credit, they ensured Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose stayed strong as a unit by keeping them undefeated in six-man tag team action for the next seven months.

The unstoppable unit also held the WWE Tag Team and United States Championships hostage for the latter half of 2013 and annihilated everyone who stepped up to challenge them. Additionally, their stellar string of matches with The Wyatt Family and Evolution are widely regarded as some of the best of 2014.

Although it can be argued that their stint as The Shield should have lasted longer than it did, there is no denying that each of them were ready for singles superstardom when they went their separate ways that summer.

Rollins was expected to be overlooked coming out of The Shield's split due to Reigns and Ambrose being bigger focal points at the time, but that didn't end up being the case whatsoever. In fact, he was initially more successful than either of them thanks to his time spent as Mr. Money in the Bank and WWE World Heavyweight champion.

The Architect was positioned as WWE's top heel for most of 2015 while Reigns struggled to adapt as the top babyface. The backlash he received from fans was a direct result of his Royal Rumble victory that year, though that didn't stop him from winning the world title multiple times and headlining four consecutive WrestleMania events.

The only one of the three who failed to fulfill his full potential in WWE was Ambrose. He enjoyed extended runs in the midcard and tag team divisions but was never able to break through that proverbial glass ceiling aside from a brief period in mid-2016.

Ambrose finally clinching the WWE Championship made for a special moment that the audience ate up, but the followup was lackluster. He was cooled off considerably within a matter of months and eventually dropped the strap to AJ Styles, never to regain it.

Ambrose was always immensely over with the WWE Universe, but he was never pushed consistently at the level he should have been. Once his heel turn flopped late last year, it was evident his days in the promotion were numbered, and in April, he officially exited WWE.

Since then, he's been doing terrific work in All Elite Wrestling under his original moniker of Jon Moxley, but it's far too early to determine how well he'll do there. He hasn't held as many major titles or wrestled in as many main events as Reigns and Rollins have, but considering he won't be as creatively stifled going forward, he may well have the brightest future of the bunch.

That isn't to say Reigns and Rollins are limited in terms of far they can go and how much they can achieve in WWE, but it will be more difficult for them to grow from where they are.

Despite that, WWE seems to be adamant about making Rollins and Reigns the undisputed faces of Raw and SmackDown respectively, regardless of the reactions they receive. Without any potential prospects on the horizon, expect them to continue battling the best the business has to offer and serving as the flag bearers of the company. 

Out of the three, however, Moxley has the most to gain and will be especially fun to follow in the years to come. No matter where they wind up, The Shield has already proved themselves to be one of the all-time great factions for everything they've accomplished.

   

Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.

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