The Shield's Final Chapter: Defining their place in WWE History
- Where do the Shield rank in the annals of WWE History?
Ambrose decided not to re-sign with the company in January and the live event turned WWE Network special, The Shield's Final Chapter, will probably be the last time we see The Lunatic Fringe in WWE for a while.
In addition to Ambrose leaving the company, the results of the Superstar Shake-up have separated Rollins and Reigns for the first time since the brand split was revived in 2016 - making The Shield's final appearance truly feel like the end of an era.
The group have had their ups and downs since their debut seven years ago, but the WWE Universe can agree that they were one of the most entertaining and successful factions since the Ruthless Aggression Era.
However, with only The Nexus, The Wyatt Family, and The New Day comparable to The Shield, saying the Hounds of Justice were one of the best factions in recent memory is basically an understatement.
From their debut at the 2012 Survivor Series pay-per-view to their final appearance yesterday, where do The Shield rank in WWE History?
Unlike the nWo and Evolution, The Shield debuted on the main roster as a complete unit with allegiance to Paul Heyman and then-WWE Champion, CM Punk.
Their debut was somewhat reminiscent of The Nexus, but the impact of The Shield's arrival on the main roster couldn't compare to what The Nexus accomplished.
When The Nexus debuted on Raw in 2010, they attacked everyone in sight while focusing their assault on John Cena. The group of rookies were dangerous.
Yet, when it came to the debut of The Shield, all their attack on Ryback did was shift the momentum of the WWE Championship match to Punk, which allowed him to surpass 365 days as champion. A major milestone for Punk, but still an impressive debut for the three NXT Superstars.
The Nexus could not be contained, while The Shield were clearly under someone's control.
As time passed, the members of The Shield claimed that they acted in their own interest by defending Punk, only for it to be revealed that they were hired by Heyman to prevent Punk from losing the WWE Championship.
The message was clear, The Shield were mercenaries, and nothing more.
The Shield continued to wreak havoc by attacking every WWE Superstar, legend, and team in sight, including Cena, The Rock, The Undertaker, Team Hell No, and more.
All three members of the group would hold titles by the summer of 2013, with Rollins and Reigns winning the WWE Tag Team Championships, and Ambrose winning the United States Championship.
However, the difference in the titles The Shield held and the titles other factions held at the height of their runs is as clear as day.
When the nWo dominated WCW, they were at the top of the company with Hulk Hogan as the WCW World Heavyweight Champion and Kevin Nash & Scott Hall as the WCW World Tag Team Champions.
The early days of D-Generation X saw Triple H and Shawn Michaels hold the WWE Championship and the European Championships at the same time before Michaels lost to Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 14.
Evolution would also dominate Monday Night Raw during the early days of the brand split, with every member of their faction holding the major titles on the flagship show.
The Shield never held world titles during their first big run and it wouldn't be until their reunion in 2018 when Reigns would hold the Universal Championship, while Rollins held the Intercontinental Championship.
Rollins is the current Universal Champion, but none of the matches involving The Shield have focused on the newly-won world title.
The only area where The Shield has a clear advantage over other factions in WWE history is their wrestling.
Asking The Shield to have great tag team matches was like asking the ocean to give you water. The group could always be relied upon to improve the quality of the show and give fans something worthwhile to look forward to.
Their tag team matches continued to get better as time went on and eventually lead The Hounds of Justice into amazing feuds with The Rhodes Brothers, The Wyatt Family, and Evolution.
When it came to wrestling ability, The Shield was untouchable.
After defeating Triple H, Batista, and Randy Orton at the 2014 Payback pay-per-view, Rollins would leave The Shield for The Authority after brutally betraying the group.
The Shield was no more and its members went their separate ways for the better part of three years.
Reigns would have the most success as a singles competitor with four world championships and four WrestleMania main events, while Ambrose fell into the mid-card with only a few months to call himself a world champion.
The Shield would reunite a few times over the years and won more championships, but it was never as interesting as their first run due to the lack of interest in their opponents.
During The Shield's first run, they faced factions that were just as popular like The Wyatt Family and Evolution, and their matches were more chaotic and different than the rest of the show.
Their 2017 reunion was a response to the alliance between Braun Strowman, The Miz, Kane, and The Bar - wrestlers The Shield already faced multiple times as individuals.
The year 2018 wasn't much better for them as Strowman formed a new alliance with Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre that resulted in a six-man tag match at Super Show-Down, shenanigans at Hell in a Cell, and a triple threat match that never happened due to Reigns having leukemia.
The Shield's reunion in 2018 is made even worse after Ambrose betrayed The Shield on the night Reigns left WWE to deal with his ailment and was followed up by Ambrose basically calling Reigns' illness - revenge from God.
The company never addressed that bit of controversy and steamrolled straight to the reunion of The Shield once the news broke that Ambrose would leave WWE in April.
Their place in WWE history
Three men from NXT debuted on the main roster and were instantly noticed for their gimmicks and their athletic abilities.
The Shield's success as a mid-card act paved the way for their singles careers and allowed Rollins and Reigns to become two of WWE's biggest stars, while Ambrose became an upper echelon player and nothing more.
The Hounds of Justice eventually became the focus of WWE television while working as a unit during their runs in 2017 and 2018, but their opponents didn't even compare by the time they reached their status as a top faction.
So when comparing The Shield to other factions in WWE History, they have more accomplishments than a lot of the factions that have come before them, but they still don't hold a candle to the biggest groups in WWE History, let alone outside of the company.
They were a mid-card faction at the height of their popularity, and that's basically where they peaked.