The Shield (professional wrestling)

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The Shield
The Shield (from left to right): Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose, displaying their signature pose.
Statistics
Members Dean Ambrose
Seth Rollins
Roman Reigns
Combined
weight
707 lb (321 kg)
Debut November 18, 2012
Disbanded June 20, 2014
Years active 2012–2014
Promotions WWE
NXT

The Shield was a professional wrestling stable in WWE, which consisted of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns. The group debuted on November 18, 2012, at the Survivor Series pay-per-view. The Shield was a dominant force in six-man tag matches, at one point having an undefeated streak from December 2012 to May 2013, during which they scored a victory at WrestleMania 29 and defeated teams containing the likes of The Undertaker, Kane, Daniel Bryan, Ryback, Big Show, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Chris Jericho, and John Cena.

In May 2013, all three members of The Shield won championship gold at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view, with Ambrose winning the WWE United States Championship while Rollins and Reigns captured the WWE Tag Team Championship. Rollins and Reigns were tag champions until October 2013 and Ambrose was United States Champion until May 2014, which was a record reign for the WWE version of the championship. As a Shield member, Reigns gained prominence by setting or equaling records at the 2013 Survivor Series and the 2014 Royal Rumble event.

In 2014, the Shield registered victories over the Wyatt Family and Evolution in six-man tag matches, as well as a win at WrestleMania XXX. At different points in their history, the Shield worked for CM Punk and the Authority while later going on to face their former employers in separate feuds. They wrestled in the main event of numerous Raw and SmackDown television shows and headlined one pay-per-view, the 2014 Payback event, which was their final match as a trio.

Rollins left the group on June 2, 2014, when he attacked Ambrose and Reigns with a steel chair and sided with the Authority. Ambrose and Reigns went on their own ways as singles wrestlers on June 20, 2014, marking the end of the Shield.

Concept[edit]

From the beginning of their existence, the Shield stated that their intention was to fight what they perceived as "injustice" in WWE.[1] They were known for their black ring attire (including protective vests),[2][3] their tendency to approach the ring through the live audience,[4] and their trademark promos, which were recorded from a first-person perspective using a handheld camcorder.[5] They were described as "a group which possessed excellent teamwork and a willingness to sacrifice themselves as an individual for the good of the team",[6][7] and often achieved victories by overwhelming opponents with superior numbers after incapacitating their teammates.[8] Nicknamed the "Hounds of Justice",[2] the Shield often referred to WWE as their "yard" during speeches.[9][10]

As well as the team aesthetic, all three members had unique characters and roles within the group:

  • Dean Ambrose was described as the "de facto mouthpiece" of the Shield during their speeches.[11] WWE also described Ambrose's character as "slightly off" and "wild", with the implication of him being a 'brawler'.[12]
  • Seth Rollins was described as having a "chaotic" in-ring style.[12] In mid-2013, Rollins' character was described as an "outspoken hot-head who will do crazy things" for the Shield's cause.[13] In 2014, Rollins gained the labels of the "aerialist" and "architect" of the Shield, and was presented as the group's strategist.[14][15][16]
  • Roman Reigns was established by WWE as the "powerhouse" and "heavy hitter" of the Shield.[12] He was the least talkative of the Shield members.[17] In mid-2013, Reigns' character was tweaked to become extremely confident and a source of leadership with "quiet strength".[13]

History[edit]

Mercenaries for CM Punk[edit]

The Shield made their entrance by the arena steps.

The group debuted on November 18, 2012 at the Survivor Series pay-per-view, when the debuting Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns, interfered in the main event, a triple threat match between CM Punk, John Cena and Ryback for the WWE Championship. They powerbombed Ryback through the announcers' table, allowing Punk to pin Cena to win the match and retain his title.[18] On the November 26 Raw, the group identified themselves as "the Shield", and vowed to rally against injustice. Despite claiming that they were not working for either CM Punk or Paul Heyman, over the next few weeks, on both Raw and SmackDown, they would routinely emerge from the crowd to attack Punk's adversaries such as Ryback, The Miz and WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan).[19][1] They also attacked Randy Orton after he defeated Brad Maddox; Maddox was the referee who helped Punk defeat Ryback during their Hell in a Cell match for the WWE Championship.[20] This led to the Shield's debut match at the TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view, where they faced Ryback and Team Hell No in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match and emerged victorious.[21][22]

After TLC, despite continuing to attack Punk's and Maddox's adversaries such as Ric Flair, Brodus Clay and Sheamus, the Shield soon expanded their ambushes to other wrestlers, such as Mick Foley, Tommy Dreamer and Ricardo Rodriguez.[5][23][24][25] The Shield's attacks were also used to write off wrestlers from television via injury angles, such as Randy Orton and Sin Cara, who were already suffering from legitimate injuries.[26][27]

During the January 2, 2013 NXT, which was taped on December 6, 2012,[28] the Shield made their first appearance in NXT, though Rollins and Reigns had already wrestled there before and Rollins was the inaugural NXT Champion. Rollins defended his title against Corey Graves; as Graves was about to win the match, Ambrose and Reigns attacked him to cause a disqualification so that Rollins retained his title. The Shield then fended off the entire NXT locker room, but retreated from Big E Langston.[29] On the January 9 NXT taped on the same date as the previous episode, Rollins faced Langston in a no disqualification title match. The NXT locker room neutralized the other Shield members and Langston defeated Rollins to win the title.[30]

On the January 7, 2013 episode of Raw, the Shield once again aided CM Punk by attacking Ryback during his Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for the WWE Championship, which resulted in Punk retaining his title.[31] On January 21, 2013, during the last Raw before the 2013 Royal Rumble, the Shield triple-powerbombed The Rock, Punk's WWE Championship contender at the event, resulting in Vince McMahon declaring that their interference in the title match would result in Punk being stripped of the title.[32] Four days later on SmackDown, Punk denied an alliance with the Shield before calling them out and informing them that he did not want them to interfere in his upcoming title match.[33] However, during Punk's title match at the Royal Rumble, a blackout occurred and The Rock was attacked by the Shield in the darkness; when the lights came back on, The Rock had been put through the announce table leading to Punk pinning The Rock and retaining his title. The match was then immediately restarted by McMahon with The Rock winning the WWE Championship.[34] The following night on Raw, it was revealed through footage played by Vince McMahon that Punk's manager Paul Heyman had been paying the Shield and Brad Maddox to work for him all along.[35]

Undefeated streak[edit]

The Shield addresses the crowd during Raw in February 2013.

Also on the January 28, 2013 episode of Raw, the Shield attacked John Cena; Sheamus and Ryback were also beaten down when they attempted to save Cena.[35] The next week on Raw, while calling out the Shield, Maddox revealed that he was the one who had given McMahon the footage showing that they were working for Heyman. The Shield then attacked Maddox, but were forced to retreat due to an attack by Cena, Ryback and Sheamus.[36] The Shield justified their attacks due to a "decade of injustice" caused by Cena creating an environment where any wrestler would not face consequences for his actions and whose mentality they felt had spread to other wrestlers like Ryback and Sheamus.[37] This set up a six-man tag team match on February 17 at Elimination Chamber,[38] which the Shield won.[39][40] The Shield had their first Raw match the following night, when they defeated the team of Ryback, Sheamus and Chris Jericho.[41]

Sheamus then formed an alliance with Randy Orton to battle the Shield. On the March 1 episode of SmackDown, while attacking Orton during his match with Big Show, the Shield inadvertently provoked Show into attacking them;[42] the Shield thus started a feud with Show as well. On the March 11 episode of Raw, the Shield's first singles match occurred when Rollins faced Show; Show won via disqualification as Ambrose and Reigns interfered and beat him down.[43] Despite twice helping Orton and Sheamus to fend off the Shield, Show on both occasions turned on the duo immediately afterwards.[44] The Shield then challenged Orton and Sheamus to find a partner and have a match with them at WrestleMania XXIX. Show volunteered, but Orton and Sheamus chose Ryback as their partner. Meanwhile, Mark Henry's distraction of Ryback resulted in the Shield conducting a successful assault on Ryback,[45] resulting in Ryback being inserted into a WrestleMania match against Henry.[46] Without a partner, Orton and Sheamus eventually accepted Show's offer to take on a common enemy despite their mistrust of him.[47] On April 7, 2013, at WrestleMania XXIX, the Shield took advantage of their opponents' inability to work together to win in their WrestleMania debut.[48][49]

The following night on the April 8 episode of Raw, the group attempted to attack The Undertaker, but were ultimately forced to retreat by Team Hell No.[50] On the April 22 episode of Raw, the Shield faced and defeated the combination of The Brothers of Destruction and Team Hell No (Undertaker, Kane and Bryan).[51] Four days later on SmackDown, Ambrose made his singles debut against Undertaker, but lost via submission; after the match, the Shield attacked Undertaker and triple-powerbombed him through the announcer's table.[52] Three days later on Raw, the Shield defeated Team Hell No and WWE Champion John Cena in a six-man tag team match with Reigns pinning Cena for the win.[53] Ambrose then started a feud with WWE United States Champion Kofi Kingston after pinning him in a six-man tag team match also involving the Usos.[54][55] On the May 13 episode of Raw, the Shield's undefeated streak in televised six man tag team matches ended in a disqualification loss in an elimination match against Cena, Kane and Bryan. With Kane and Bryan eliminated, Cena pinned Rollins and then Reigns was disqualified. Ambrose was disqualified when Reigns and Rollins attacked Cena.[56]

All champions and Triple H's enforcers[edit]

Rollins and Reigns lost their tag team titles to Cody Rhodes (far right) and Goldust. (right)

On May 19, 2013 at Extreme Rules, Ambrose defeated Kofi Kingston to become the new United States Champion. Later that night, Rollins and Reigns defeated Team Hell No to become the WWE Tag Team Champions.[57] Ambrose faced Kingston on the May 24 episode of SmackDown in a rematch for the title and retained when Rollins and Reigns interfered causing a disqualification.[58] Ambrose defeated Kingston in yet another rematch for the title three days later on Raw. That same night, Rollins and Reigns retained their tag titles in a rematch for the titles against Team Hell No.[59] On the June 14 episode of SmackDown, the Shield's unpinned/unsubmitted streak in televised six-man tag team matches came to an end at the hands of Team Hell No and Randy Orton, when Daniel Bryan submitted Rollins.[60][61] Two days later at WWE Payback, Ambrose defeated Kane via count-out to retain the United States Championship while Rollins and Reigns defeated Bryan and Orton to retain their tag team titles.[62][63] The following night on Raw, Ambrose had a title rematch against Kane, and once again retained after Rollins and Reigns interfered and Ambrose was disqualified.[64]

After the Shield attacked Christian and the Usos became the number one contender to the WWE Tag Team Championships,[65][66] the Shield were defeated by them in a six-man tag match on the June 28, episode of SmackDown.[67] On July 14, 2013, during the Money in the Bank pre-show, Rollins and Reigns defeated the Usos to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship.[68] Later on in the pay-per-view, they interfered in Ambrose's World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank ladder match, but the Usos in turn attacked Reigns and Rollins and Ambrose failed to win the match.[69] The Shield then began a feud with Mark Henry,[70] defeating Henry and the Usos in two six-man tag team matches,[71][72] but losing to the team of Henry, Big Show and Rob Van Dam.[73] Ambrose went on to retain his championship via disqualification against Van Dam at the SummerSlam kickoff show.[74]

The following night on the August 19 episode of Raw, the Shield began working for chief operating officer Triple H. They would aid WWE Champion and "the face of WWE" Randy Orton against his number one contender Daniel Bryan, while also attacking wrestlers like Big Show and Dolph Ziggler for speaking out against Triple H's regime.[75][76] At Night of Champions, the Shield enjoyed successful title defenses when Ambrose defeated Ziggler while Rollins and Reigns defeated the Prime Time Players.[77] At WWE Battleground, a fired Cody Rhodes and Goldust earned their jobs back by beating Rollins and Reigns in a non-title match.[78] On the September 23 episode of Raw, the Shield lost an eleven-on-three handicap elimination match during which every member was pinned, which was Reigns' first; the Usos, Ziggler and Bryan contributed to the pins.[79] On the October 14 episode of Raw, Rollins and Reigns faced the Rhodes brothers again with the tag titles on the line in a no disqualification match; the Shield lost the tag titles to the Rhodes brothers after Big Show attacked them during the match.[80] On the October 16 episode of Main Event, Ambrose successfully retained his title against Ziggler.[81] At Hell in a Cell, Rollins and Reigns lost a three-way tag-team match for the tag titles against the Rhodes brothers and the Usos, while Ambrose retained his championship despite a count-out loss to Big E Langston.[82]

Cracks in the Shield[edit]

Dean Ambrose became the longest reigning United States Champion under the WWE banner at 351 days.

The first seeds of dissension were sown in the Shield (especially between Ambrose and Reigns) with Ambrose's boasting of being the only member left with a championship,[83] but from then on Ambrose was frequently pinned during the Shield's matches.[84][85] At Survivor Series, the Shield teamed with The Real Americans (Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro) to beat the team of Rey Mysterio, the Rhodes Brothers and the Usos; Ambrose was the first man eliminated, Rollins (with one elimination) was the fourth man eliminated for his team and Reigns was the sole survivor after eliminating four opponents.[86]

Next, CM Punk's criticism of Triple H earned him an attack by the Shield,[87] but Punk tasted revenge at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs when he overcame the Shield in a handicap match, capitalizing on the Shield's lack of co-ordination after Ambrose received a Reigns spear aimed for Punk.[88] Punk documented in an out-of-character interview a year later on how he was constantly reminded to make Reigns look "really, really strong" in the match at TLC to the point that Punk requested to lose the match, which was rejected.[89]

Going into 2014, Punk's taunts increased tension between the Shield members,[90] and Reigns emerged as the only Shield member to defeat Punk in a singles match, albeit with Ambrose's interference.[91] All three members of the Shield competed in the 2014 Royal Rumble match. Late in the match, Ambrose tried to eliminate Reigns, who retaliated by eliminating both Ambrose and Rollins. Reigns eventually finished as runner-up in the match while setting a new record for most eliminations in a single Rumble with 12; Ambrose and Rollins scored three eliminations each, and Rollins spent the second longest amount of time in the match.[92][93]

On the following Raw on January 27, 2014, the Shield faced the team of Daniel Bryan, Sheamus and John Cena in a 6-man tag-team match in which the winning team would enter the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The Shield were denied that opportunity when The Wyatt Family attacked their opponents, causing the Shield to lose via disqualification.[94] The Shield vowed revenge, so a match was set up between the Shield and the Wyatt Family at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.[95]

With both the Shield and the Wyatt Family being heel (villainous) teams, WWE positioned the Shield as the team the audience should root for on the February 10 episode of Raw, when the Shield was willing to engage in a confrontation while the Wyatt Family backed down.[96][97] Meanwhile, also on the February 10 episode of Raw, Ambrose's open challenge for his title was answered by Mark Henry, with Ambrose retaining via disqualification due to the Shield's interference,[98] and Reigns continued his tension with Ambrose by defeating Henry without interference.[99]

At the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, the Shield lost to the Wyatt Family; during the match, Ambrose and Bray Wyatt brawled into the crowd and Wyatt later returned to the ring with no sign of Ambrose, which caused Rollins and Reigns to be outnumbered and overwhelmed.[100] On the March 3 episode of Raw, the Shield lost a rematch against the Wyatt Family when the Shield's poor teamwork led to Rollins walking out during the match; Rollins claimed that he had enough of being the glue holding the group together.[101]

Rebellion against authority[edit]

The Shield wore half-masks during an entrance in April 2014.

On the March 7, 2014 episode of SmackDown, the members of the Shield met in the ring to clear the air on their disharmony. Rollins said that his actions achieved his purpose of getting Ambrose and Reigns to finally see eye-to-eye. After Ambrose and Rollins hit each other, the trio reconciled.[102]

The Shield's next feud was against Kane, who was now acting as the Director of Operations for the Authority. Kane had ordered The Shield to attack commentator Jerry Lawler on the March 17 episode of Raw, but the Shield attacked Kane instead, thus turning all of them into faces (heroic characters).[103][104] In retaliation, Kane and the New Age Outlaws attacked the Shield on the March 21 episode of SmackDown while the group was already being double-teamed by Rybaxel (Ryback and Curtis Axel) and the Real Americans after an inconclusive fatal-four-way match meant to determine the contenders for the WWE Tag Team Championship.[105] This set up a match pitting the Shield against Kane and the Outlaws at WrestleMania XXX,[106] which the Shield won quickly and decisively.[107]

The next night, on the post-WrestleMania Raw, Kane inadvertently revealed that Triple H had masterminded the attack on the Shield on the previous month's SmackDown. As a result, when Triple H faced the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan in a title match after Bryan had already been attacked by Kane, Randy Orton and Batista, the Shield interrupted the match to turn on Triple H, chasing the other wrestlers away to protect Bryan.[108] The Shield finally defeated The Wyatt Family in a six-man tag match on the April 8 episode of Main Event.[109] On the April 14 episode of Raw, Triple H forced the Shield to wrestle an 11-on-3 handicap match, which ended in a no contest and left the Shield outnumbered and beaten down. The Shield were then further attacked by Triple H, Orton and Batista, who reformed the group Evolution.[110] Due to wrestle another 11-on-3 main event on the April 25 episode of SmackDown, the Shield attacked and took out six of their opponents throughout SmackDown and defeated the remaining five in the handicap match.[111] On the next SmackDown, Ambrose retained his United States Championship in a fatal-four-way match against Alberto Del Rio, Curtis Axel and Ryback.[112]

At the Extreme Rules pay-per-view, the Shield defeated Evolution.[113] The next night on Raw, Ambrose was forced to defend his title in a 20-man battle royal with Rollins and Reigns not part of the match. Ambrose survived until the final two but lost to Sheamus, ending Ambrose's record reign with the WWE United States Championship at 351 days.[114][115] A rematch between the Shield and Evolution was arranged for Payback, with a stipulation of being No Holds Barred and an elimination match; the Shield prevailed again over Evolution with no Shield member being eliminated.[116]

Rollins' betrayal and separation[edit]

Following his split from the Shield, Seth Rollins (left) is confronted by his former teammates.

On the post-Payback Raw on June 2, 2014, Triple H announced his intention to continue Evolution's feud with the Shield, but Batista quit WWE for a second time. Later that night, with the Shield in the ring, Triple H's "Plan B" for destroying the Shield turned out to be Rollins suddenly attacking Ambrose and Reigns with a steel chair, signalling Rollins' official departure from the group and re-alignment with the Authority.[117] On the June 9 episode of Raw, Rollins described his heel turn as severing a business relationship and that he had destroyed "his own creation" to further his own interests,[118] while Ambrose and Reigns (still labelled as the Shield) teamed up with John Cena to defeat the Wyatt Family.[119]

While Ambrose and Reigns did not fall out with each other, they did begin to take separate paths, as Ambrose declared his intentions to take revenge on Rollins while Reigns set his sights on the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.[119] On the June 20 episode of SmackDown, Ambrose debuted new theme music while no longer wearing the Shield's attire.[120][121]

By this time, Rollins had also changed his ring attire and theme music, while Reigns retained the Shield's ring attire and gained a slightly remixed version of the Shield's theme music. This indicated that Ambrose and Reigns were working on their own and that the Shield had quietly disbanded.[122][123] On the June 24 episode of Main Event, Reigns confirmed that he was on his own and no longer with the Shield, cementing the group's dissolution, although Reigns and Ambrose continued to support each other publicly and were infrequently placed together in tag-team matches while pursuing their individual goals in singles competition.[124]

At the end of 2014, Pro Wrestling Torch writer Shawn Valentino labelled the Shield as a "three-headed dragon" and the seventh top WWE story of the year. He wrote that the Shield "was one of the coolest acts in wrestling in recent years, and most fans believed they were broken up prematurely [...] That being said, each member of the Shield has made their mark, and they all look like they will be big stars in the future".[125] Shawn Wilken of Last Word On Sports noted that "The Shield is the greatest faction wrestling fans had the pleasure of watching in the modern day era. Perhaps even in the last three decades".[126]

Aftermath[edit]

Rollins would be the one to finally win the Money in the Bank contract in 2014, and his rivalry with Ambrose continued for several months, including matches at SummerSlam and Hell in a Cell. Reigns meanwhile continued his rivalry with Orton through to SummerSlam, and was then sidelined with injury. Following his return, Reigns won the 2015 Royal Rumble match, earning the right to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 31. During the match Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract, turning the match into a triple threat. Rollins then pinned Reigns to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, making him the first of the three former Shield members to become World Champion.

In wrestling[edit]

The Shield have a 3-on-1 advantage in their attack on Kane.
The Shield set to deliver their signature team maneuver — a triple powerbomb.
The Shield performing a triple powerbomb to both Road Dogg and Billy Gunn of The New Age Outlaws at WrestleMania XXX.

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

References[edit]

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