Looking Back at the Shield

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By Nicholas Lentini

The Shield were one of the most dominate stables in WWE History, and that’s hard to believe considering how young these three men were. They went by the names of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, and their group was called The Shield, The Hounds of Justice.


Protecting the Best in the World

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They made their debut at the 2012 Survivor Series, making their mark by interfering in the triple threat match for the WWE Championship which was

contested by CM Punk, John Cena and Ryback.
Ryback went to perform his finishing move the ‘shell shock’ to John Cena, which he executed, as he went for the cover and the likely win, three men pulled Ryback away preventing his win. They started attacking him like a pack of wild dogs; they then headed to the announcers table, setting it up to put Ryback through it. Fans wondered who these three men were, until Michael Cole said: “these three men are from NXT developmental, known as Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns”. Ambrose and Rollins then lifted up Ryback to Reigns and they performed their signature ‘triple power bomb’, sending Ryback crashing through the table, lying helpless; Punk then covered a downed Cena for the pin.

Fans knew that this wouldn’t be the last time they’d see these three men, but what was their true objective?

On the November 26th episode of Monday Night Raw, the group finally identified themselves as the Shield, they vowed to rally against injustice. Over the next few weeks on both Raw and Smackdown they would always emerge from the crowd to attack CM Punks rivals; including Ryback, the Miz and the WWE tag team champions team Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane), they also attacked Randy Orton.

After numerous attacks from the Hounds of Justice, they finally got their debut match at TLC; they would be up against the team of Ryback and Hell No in a TLC match. This would prove to be a test for the young competitors, proving if they could back up their in ring skills when the contest wasn’t an ambush attack. Shocking many, they ended up dominating the later parts of the match to emerge Victorious.

On the January 7th episode of Raw, the Shield would emerge again to CM Punks aid, triple power bombing Ryback onto the steel steps of the ring to allow Punk to grab the WWE Championship title and retain it in a TLC match. And again, on the January 21st episode of Raw 2013, the last Raw before the 2013 Royal Rumble, the Shield attacked the Rock, CM Punks opponent for the Royal Rumble whom he would be defending the title against.

A fed up Vince McMahon then announced that if the Shield interfered in the title match CM Punk would be stripped of the WWE Championship title. At the event, as the Rock had the upper hand against Punk, the lights went out and, if you were watching the 2013 Royal Rumble, you could hear a beat down and that familiar sound of someone going through an announcers table. When the lights turned back on the Rock was laid out. However, Vince McMahon decided to re-start the match, the Rock went on to victory and become an eight time WWE Champion. The following night on Raw it was revealed by Vince McMahon through footage of Paul Hayman (CM Punks manager) backstage with the Shield, that Paul was paying the trio all along to protect CM Punk and allow him to retain to WWE Championship title at all costs.

The Undefeated Hounds of Justice/Becoming Champions

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The Shield were out to prove that they would stand up to anyone that stood in the way of what they believed in, so they then turned their attention to “The man that runs the place John Cena” – they also took out Sheamus and Ryback, who tried to help John Cena when this beat down took place on the January 28th episode of Raw.

The next week on Raw, the Shield would take out Brad Maddox, as he was the one who had given the footage to Vince McMahon; showing that they were working for Paul Hayman. But the Shield retreated due to Cena, Sheamus and Ryback entering the ring. Fans wondered why the Shield were attacking Cena, and that was answered the following week; they justified their attacks due to “a decade of injustice, caused by Cena”, they explained that “Cena has created an environment where any wrestler wouldn’t face consequences for his actions and whose mentality has spread to other wrestlers like Ryback and Sheamus”. The Shield would face John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view on February 17th.

No one gave a chance to the Hounds of Justice, they were going up against the WWE all-star team, but just like they proved at TLC; they would rise up to the challenge, and they defeated another impressive team. And the wins didn’t stop there, the next night on Raw they took on a challenge from Chris Jericho and defeated the team of Y2J (Sheamus and Ryback). They were proving that they couldn’t only dominate at beat downs, but were also a powerful presence in the ring.

The Shield then turned their attention to Randy Orton, attacking him while he had a match with the Big Show. Sheamus would then form an alliance with Orton, but in the process the Shield accidentally provoked Big Show into attacking them; the Shield not only had a fighting Irishman and a Viper to deal with, but now an angry giant.

The Shield were in unfamiliar territory when they had their first singles match, when Shield member Seth Rollins took on the Big Show. Big Show won the match by disqualification when Ambrose and Reigns interfered and beat him down, as they did to all of their foes. The Shield were loving what they were seeing; although the giant had made the members retreat they loved seeing Big Show turn on Sheamus and Orton twice.

The Shield wanted to prove that they weren’t messing around and challenged Orton and Sheamus to find a partner and face them at Wrestlemania. Big Show offered to be on the team but Orton and Sheamus declined due to their trust issues with the giant. They instead chose Ryback to join their team, but the Shield proved that they weren’t just muscle, they had the smarts too; knowing that Ryback had given them trouble in the past they decided to take him out of the picture, and with a distraction from Mark Henry they did just that. With no one left to choose, the Viper and Irishman eventually accepted Big Shows offer, their reason was that they were taking on a common enemy, despite their mistrust of the giant. The Shield would continue to impress with a victory at Wrestelmania 29; with arguing between Big Show and his partners, Randy Orton and Sheamus, the Shield took advantage and picked up yet another win.

The Shield would then target the biggest dog in the yard; the Undertaker, they would attack him the following night after Wrestelmania on the April 8th episode of Raw. The group attacked the Undertaker but couldn’t finish the job and had to retreat after team Hell No got involved and saved the Dead Man.

A few weeks later the Shield would face their biggest test yet, facing the Brothers of Destruction and Daniel Bryan. No one would think that these three would be able to pull off such a height, but the Shield kept proving everyone wrong and did the unthinkable by defeating the Brothers of Destruction and Bryan. In the same week on Smackdown, Ambrose would be put to the test when he faced the The Undertaker in a singles match (his singles debut), Ambrose submitted giving Undertaker the victory. Straight after the match the Shield promised everyone what they had stated early on in the week; that they would kill off The Undertaker and send him into early retirement. This was something that not many fans believed would happen but it did, with a massive spear from Roman Reigns, repeated steel chairs to The Undertakers back and a massive triple power bomb, the Shield laid waste to The Undertaker – as The Undertaker lay there helpless, the Shield stood strong. Now that the Shield had taken out the most imposing superstar (and not to mention the most successful) there was one question on all fans minds: who would stop the Hounds of Justice?

The Shield continued to pick up impressive six man tag team victories against the teams of WWE champion John Cena and team Hell No , and The United States champion Kofi Kingston and the Usos. Although they were disqualified in their six man elimination tag team match against Cena and team Hell No, the Shield were yet to be pinned or submitted in six man tag matches putting together a six month undefeated streak, this was an impressive feat. It wasn’t like they were versing below average superstars either, they were taking on the biggest and hottest superstars of today; the names of Ryback, Kane, Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Randy Orton, Big Show, Chris Jericho and, the legend himself, The Undertaker.

What did the Shield have left to prove now that they had done everything they said they were going to do? If it was a 3-1 assault on the company’s biggest name to send a message that the Shield wasn’t going to let injustice happen any longer, they also backed everything up in the ring with a repeat of dominant victories against the company’s biggest stars. There was only one thing left for the Hounds of Justice to accomplish and at the time it was setting their eyes on the gold.

However, on May 19th 2013 at Extreme Rules, the Shield capture Gold with Ambrose defeating Kofi Kingston for the United States Championship title. Rollins and Reigns would then defeat the Tag Team Champions, team Hell No, to capture the title and end team Hell No’s impressive eight month reign. However all good things must come to an end, and on the June 14th episode of Smackdown the Shield’s unpinned/unsubmitted six man tag streak came to an end thanks to team Hell No and Randy Orton. After so many close finishes, almost ending the Shield’s undefeated streak, Orton, Kane and Bryan finally accomplished what no other team had been able to do in the past seven months. Daniel Bryan had lit up the arena, and with his fast offence along with the help of a choke slam from Kane and an RKO from Orton, Bryan was able to make Rollins submit.

Although that record had been broken, over the coming months Amborse, Reigns and Rollins would continue to defend their titles and retain them, showing no signs of slowing down. First Ambrose would defeat Kofi, then Reigns and Rollins would defeat team Hell No. Although in some of their title defences they would all end up getting involved causing disqualification and count out victories, they were successful with pinfall victories in the rematches that their opponents were granted. The names that they had overcome were impressive, these names were the likes of Kofi Kingston, Daniel Bryan, Kane, Mark Henry, Rob Van Dam, etc…

Triple H and the Hounds of Justice

Rollins and Reigns taking on Cody Rhodes and Goldust

When you are one of the most dominant factions in the company, walking around with championship gold and putting fear into all the superstars, you are bound to get noticed, not only that but you acquire interest from higher authority, and that’s exactly what happened the following night after Summerslam on the August 19th episode of Raw.

The Shield began working for the chief operating officer Triple H. Triple H had all the power and now he also had the three most ruthless and dominant stables in his hands. The Shield proved why Triple H recruited them the night they took out Daniel Bryan, with Reigns delivering a dominant spear. Daniel Bryan, at the time, was the number one contender to Randy Orton’s WWE Championship title, but Orton didn’t have to worry about Bryan as the Shield was always at his side taking out Bryan with their 3 on 1 assault tactics. If that wasn’t bad enough, every time a superstar spoke out about the way Triple H was running things around the company (on Raw and Smackdown), the Shield, at Triple H’s command, would take them out.

While the Shield was working for Triple H, the CEO fired Cody Rhodes for suggesting ideas to him about how to run Raw better., Stephanie McMahon (Triple H’s partner) then told Cody Rhodes and Goldust that if they were able to defeat the WWE Tag Team champions, Shield members Rollins and Reigns, at the pay-per-view WWE Battleground, they would be able to get their jobs back and work for the company once again. Reigns and Rollins were defeated, enabling the Rhodes brothers, Cody and Goldust, to get their jobs back.

Working for the boss was starting to take its toll on the Shield members, and they lost an 11 on 3 handicap elimination match, in which every member was pinned, making this the first time Reigns had been pinned since entering WWE. And if that wasn’t bad enough, on the October 14th episode of Raw, Rollins and Reigns lost their Tag Team Championship to the Rhodes brothers in a no disqualification match after Big Show got involved and started attacking them during the match; giving Reigns a knock-out punch. The duo had lost a rematch at Hell in a Cell in a triple threat match, while Ambrose was still successful in retaining his title in matches against Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston.

The Shield would continue to work for the authority but they had their own agenda within the group that needed to be addressed, a crack within the group perhaps?

Cracks in the Shield/Trust again in the Hounds of Justice

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Many people in the WWE universe wondered why the Shield were so dominant and successful, the key words being: Loyalty, Trust and Unity.

They always had the same goal in mind and worked as a team to get the job done, no one was more important than the other, it was an even playing field. But shortly after Shield members Rollins and Reigns lost their Tag Team Championships, disagreement started to creep in. The sole member of the group still with a championship, Ambrose, would brag about how he was the only remaining member that still had gold around his waist. This would create arguments, especially between him and Reigns. Although Ambrose believed he was doing the best within’ the group, he would start to be pinned in six man tag team matches resulting in many losses.

The Shield would team up with the Real Americans to defeat the team of Rey Mysterio, the Rhodes brothers and Usos, in a traditional survivor series elimination match at Survivor Series 2013. But with Ambrose being the first one eliminated with no elimination pins of his own, and Rollins, although being the second last member, with one elimination, it was all about Roman Reigns who had a strong showing for his team; tying an all-time record of four eliminations, becoming the sole survivor of the team. His wicked spears and endurance to battle such odds gave a lot of recognition to Reigns, not about his improvements but his dominance, something that wouldn’t sit well with Ambrose.

The Shield members tried to move on from all their arguing; when they did a job for Triple H taking out CM Punk (Punk had made comments about how bad Triple H was running Raw). Rollins believed that a 3 on 1 handicap match with Punk would reinstate not only their dominance but also their impressive team work, but this wasn’t the case as CM Punk tasted revenge; defeating the shield at TLC 2013. The reason Punk won was because of the Shields lack of co-ordination, after Reigns accidentally hit Ambrose with a spear.

As if the Shield didn’t have enough problems already, CM Punk increased his taunts, causing more tension between the group. All three members made their statement about how as an individual they could defeat Punk, but Ambrose and Rollins were unsuccessful in their attempts to defeat him, only Reigns was successful in defeating Punk with another devastating spear.

In the same month they would all compete in the 2014 Royal Rumble match, the plan was to all work together, but in the weeks leading up to the rumble the Shield members would again claim that they would be the one to win the rumble; Reigns showing the most confidence out of the three. In the Rumble match Ambrose tried to eliminate Reigns, it was odd to see this as they had been working really well for most of the match, but Reigns retaliated by eliminating both Ambrose and Rollins. Ambrose and Rollins scored three eliminations each, Rollins spending the second longest amount of time in the match, but it was Reigns who was the most impressive; not only did he become runner up to the eventual winner, Batista, but he broke a thirteen year long record set by Kane in 2001 with the most eliminations (eleven being the original record and Reigns scoring twelve). Although Reigns had impressive showings at Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble, it was apparent that there were still a lot of cracks in the Shield that needed to be fixed.

The Shield would lose an opportunity on the January 27th episode of Raw, losing to the team of Sheamus, Cena and Bryan by disqualification when the Wyatt family attacked the Shields opponents – the lost opportunity was a match inside the Elimination Chamber for the WWE World Heavyweight title. The Shield vowed revenge and a match was set up between the two at Elimination Chamber. They had a common goal again and tried to engage in a confrontation with the Wyatt family on the February 10th episode of Raw, but it was unsuccessful as the Wyatt family backed away.

On the same night, Ambrose, out to prove how good he was, set up an open challenge and put his title on the line. Mark Henry answered the challenge and Ambrose lost by disqualification when Rollins and Reigns interfered. Reigns would then prove he didn’t need any help defeating Henry, causing more tension between Ambrose and Reigns.

At the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view the Shield lost another important match (they had hoped that their team work and unity would come back) to the Wyatt Family, during the match Ambrose and Bray Wyatt brawled into the crowd, while Reigns and Rollins took on harper and Rowan, Bray returned with no signs of Ambrose (did Ambrose leave in retreat? This caused more issues and headaches for the Shield). This caused Rollins and Reigns to be outnumbered and overwhelmed, eventually losing to the Wyatt family.

On the March 3rd episode of Raw, the Shield lost a rematch against the Wyatt Family when their poor teamwork led to Rollins walking out during the match; Rollins claimed that he had had enough of being the glue holding the group together. Reigns also told Ambrose that in a year and a half he had only been pinned twice, but now he had been pinned in back-to-back nights, blaming Ambrose for his lack of teamwork, this caused more problems within the group. Would this be the end of the Shield.

On the March 7th 2014 episode of SmackDown, the members of the Shield met in the ring to clear their disagreements that had been persisting for many months. Rollins said that his actions as of late (walking out on the team during a match with the Wyatt Family on Raw, etc…) showed that he had achieved his purpose of making Reigns and Ambrose finally see eye to eye, and what’s important is working as a dominant team with no ego and everyone on the same page again, going for and completing the goal set upon them as a well-oiled team. This reconnection happened after Ambrose and Rollins had hit each other. The trio restored their close friendship and looked ready to move forward as one yet again – “Believe in the Shield!”

Now that the Shield were back on the same page again, their next feud would be against Kane who was the director of operations for the authority. Kane had instructed the Shield to attack Raw commentator Jerry ‘the king’ Lawler on the March 17th episode of Raw. However, as it looked like the Shield would carry out their attack on Jerry, they instead turned their attention to Kane and started attacking him instead – the Shield would now turn face (meaning they’d become the good guys).

Kane wouldn’t let that beating go down without any pay back, and that’s just what he did on the March 21st episode of Smackdown. The Shield members, Amborse and Rollins, were competing in a fatal four way number one contender match for the WWE Tag Team titles. Dominating the match and looking to have won, after Reigns speared the distraction from a 3MB member, with a curb stop from Rollins and an attempted pin that was stopped. That’s when the betting came down, from Ryback, Axel, the Real Americans Swagger and Cesaro. Roman was holding his own until Kane came into the mix, Ambrose and Rollins would suffer finishing moves from Cesaro and Ryback, as Reigns tried to fight off Kane – the New Age Outlaws joined and began attacking Reigns as well. With multiple choke slams from Kane all of the Shield members were laid out on the mat, looking less like a dominating force and more like humans for the first time in a long time.

The two teams (the Shield and the New Age Outlaws with Kane by their side) would face off against each other at Wrestlemania 30 in six man tag team action. The Shield would dominate the match in quick fashion, with a spear to Kane from Reigns, and a double spear to the New Age Outlaws. A double tag was made and all the Shield members were in the ring, they then set up for what we had never seen before; a double triple power bomb. Rollins then got the cover for the win, the Shield won in under five minutes, a dominant display from one of the youngest factions in WWE history. One part of the authority was taken care of, now they set their sight on the man in charge.

The next night on the post Wrestlemania episode of Raw, it was accidentally revealed by the director of wrestling operations, Kane, that it was actually Triple H who was the mastermind behind the Shields attack that occurred on Smackdown last month. Once the Shield found out, later in the evening, in the main event, they entered the ring and stared down Triple H. Triple H was set to face Daniel Bryan for the WWE World Heavyweight championship, and an attack from Kane, Orton and Batista gave him the advantage he needed, but the Hounds of Justice where having none of it; they stared Triple H, Orton and Batista down. Triple H screamed: “No, not tonight, we are not doing this”, and after he told this to Orton, Batista, and Kane he turned around to receive a spear from Roman Reigns, The Shield would then drive out the rest of Triple H’s enforces, protecting Daniel Bryan.

On the April 14th episode of Raw, Triple H would force the Shield to wrestle in an 11 on 3 handicap match. Although the Shield tried their best and were doing well, the match would end in a no contest after all eleven men took down the Shield, with multiple finishing moves being applied. To make thing worse, Evolution came out, once one of the most dominant factions in WWE history, as they walked down to the ring they looked at the Shield members who will still down and out, that’s when the assault began. Roman Reigns tried to fight back, but an RKO from Randy Orton and a Batista bomb took out the power house. Rollins suffered the same fate; as he too received an RKO and a Batista bomb. What’s worse than a Batista bomb and an RKO? Amborse could tell you as he received it as a double finisher; Batista would start to deliver it and as Ambrose was coming down  Orton struck with a devastating RKO. The three men of Evolution then surrounded Roman Reigns, Triple H took the mic and said: “Believe in Evolution”, he then delivered a devastating pedigree. Evolution stood tall over the Shield, now the Hounds of Justice would face the biggest test of their careers; facing a team that is described by many as one of the greatest stables of all time.

A match was set up between the two powerful stables at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view, and the Shield were going in with a lot of confidence behind them. On the April 25th episode of Smackdown, the Shield would impress again and turn the tables on Triple H; he believed that if he put the Shield in another 11 on 3 handicap match it would weaken them before the big match up at Extreme Rules. But the Shield showed him why they’re the top dogs in the yard of the WWE; they outsmarted Triple H by taking out six of their opponents throughout the night –with the most deadly attack coming to Fandango; where they gave him a triple power bomb off the stage into two tables. They dominated the handicap match, with the remaining five superstars receiving high flying assaults by Rollins and Ambrose, and superman punches and spears from Reigns. It was a spear that won them the match. They then continued the assault on Ryback; Reigns with a spear, then a triple power bomb by the trio – Proving that they were ready for Extreme Rules.

The match at Extreme Rules didn’t disappoint, with everyone from both teams proving their stables worth. With spine busters, clotheslines and fast paced action, the match was even, Reigns was heating up; delivering his jumping clotheslines to Orton and Batista. A drop kick to Batista by Reigns, followed by a triple power bomb from the Shield, looked to have the match won, but Triple H and Orton dragged Reigns off the cover, performing a pedigree and then an RKO. Batista went for the pin and thought he had the match won, but Reigns kicked out. Ambrose, Rollins, Orton and Triple H then took the fight to the crowd. With Triple H and Orton getting the upper hand on Ambrose, a brave Rollins jumped from the top of the crowd rail to help. Batista looked to have the match set with a massive spine buster, but Reigns countered the Batista bomb, delivering a Superman punch followed by a spear to pick up a win for the Shield. The Hounds of Justice proved themselves yet again, defeating one of the greatest teams in history; Evolution.

Triple H wouldn’t have it, and another match was set up for the Payback pay-per-view, however this time it wouldn’t be as easy as the Extreme Rules match, this time it would be a no holds barred, elimination tag match. Triple H would stack up the deck against Ambrose the same night, forcing him to defend his United States Championship in a twenty man battle royal, Reigns and Rollins were banned from ringside. Although Ambrose put up a good fight, surviving until the last two wrestlers, he lost his title to Sheamus.

At Payback, Evolution dominated the match; destroying the Shield members, with Evolution delivering a triple power bomb to Ambrose through the Spanish announcers table. Roman Reigns then received a spine buster from Batista and numerous hits with kendo sticks from Orton, Triple H and Batista. Rollins managed to turn the match around though when he jumped from the top of the entrance ramp on to Evolution. Back in the ring, Reigns delivered a spear to Batista just moments before Batista speared Rollins. Rollins then covered Batista for the first elimination, it was now 3 on 2. Orton hit Rollins with an RKO, trying to pull things back into Evolutions favour, but Ambrose then hit dirty deeds on Orton on a steal chair for the cover, the second elimination of the match. Now their was only one wrestler remaining, the leader of Evolution, Triple H. Triple H relied on his trustworthy sledge hammer, which he hit Ambrose with, but a superman punch and high knee from Rollins from the top of the ropes, and a spear sealed the victory for the Shield, with Reigns covering Triple H. The Shield had defeated Evolution for the second time, no one was hotter right now then the Hounds of Justice – “and you can believe that”.

The Shield did what no one thought was possible; they defeated Evolution at back to back pay-per-views, but Triple H said, on the June 2nd episode of Raw, that this feud with the Shield would continue. Batista wasn’t happy, saying that he was done with the Shield and wanted his one on one match for the WWE World Heavyweight title that he was never granted after winning the Royal Rumble. Triple H told Batista that this must be taken care of first before they both got what they wanted. Batista then quit the WWE for the second time, leaving Evolution to two members.

The Shield would arrive in the main event of the show, claiming that the reason they won against Evolution is because they are a team; a “team of brothers, while Evolution were just a bunch of individuals”.

As Triple H and Orton came out for the Vipers match with Reigns, Triple H said: “Last night was Plan A, tonight is Plan B, there is always a Plan B”. Triple H had his sledge hammer, which prompted Rollins to grab a few steel chairs, with one in hand the Shield stared down Orton and Triple H. As Reigns and Ambrose moved forward Rollins waited behind, and then he did the unthinkable; he hit his brothers in the back with a chair, Reigns first as Ambrose looked on in disbelief before he was then also assaulted by Rollins. Finally delivering a curb stomp on to the chair, Rollins then handed it to Orton who then assaulted Reigns with more chair shots before finally finishing him off with an RKO. Triple H then stood arm in arm with Orton and Rollins and said: “I won”, he then placed his sledge hammer onto Reigns, thus ending the Shield.

Although now they are on their own separate paths, there’s no doubt that the Shield will be remembered as one of the most dominating and successful stables of all time. But don’t take my word for it, like the Shield once said:  “Believe in the Shield”.

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