Monday 3 December 2012
What The Shield Need To Succeed – by Paul Renwick
With John Cena and CM Punk lying on the canvass, the crowd rose in anticipation for what seemed to be the inevitability of Ryback shocking the world and becoming the new WWE champion. Though, through the sea of excited faces emerged three assailants from the crowd dressed in black intent on making an impact on the biggest stage possible. Before anyone could react the three men had turned their attention to Ryback, savagely putting him through the announcers table and decisively ending his championship dream.
In the replays that followed it was revealed that the three mystery attackers were in fact NXT roster members, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns accompanied by maverick Dean Ambrose. At that moment a new faction was born.
During a sit down interview with Michael Cole two weeks later on Raw, the men would explain that they had come together to fight injustice and decided to name their alliance, The Shield.
Interestingly, during the interview they were quick to point out that they were unique and should not be compared to previous factions like the nWo and Nexus. However, despite their protests comparisons will inevitably be made. So, what will The Shield have to do to be considered a success in WWE and avoid the pitfalls of previous groups and factions.
The Shield has an immediate advantage in that like many successful factions it has three strong and unique members. Seth Rollins is a man with a huge reputation on the independent circuit after his successful Ring of Honour championship run under the name Tyler Black. This success continued in the WWE development territory, NXT where before his emergence as a member of Shield he was the brand’s champion.
Dean Ambrose is widely recognised as one of the most dynamic communicators in wrestling. His edgy promo style led to him becoming embroiled in a fascinating twitter war with Mick Foley earlier this year. While little is known about Roman Reigns, he has the advantage of an enormous physical presence, which will allow him to be an effective enforcer for the group.
It is clear that as individuals the group has a number of strengths. Though, in order to succeed as a faction they need to be booked as a credible threat.
Back in 2010, a similar group of NXT rookies would come together and make a sensational impact. Nexus led by Wade Barrett was seen as a faction that could shake up the wrestling world and bring a new twist to the increasingly stale WWE product.
After a captivating few months, this powerful heel stable would face a hastily assembled Team WWE containing John Cena, Edge, Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan and Bret Hart at Summerslam. While it seemed inevitable that the red hot Nexus would pick up the victory at that event in Los Angeles, this would not be the case as after withstanding a beating, the dysfunctional Team WWE would emerge victorious.
The effect of this defeat would be devastating on Nexus as they would be unable to rediscover the momentum they once had as they were not seen as a credible threat to the WWE and in particular John Cena.
After making a similarly impactful debut, The Shield must avoid the fate that befell Nexus. They must be placed in situations where they are seen as equal to if not superior to their WWE counterparts. Of course, the moment will arrive when The Shield will have to lose a high profile match-up, but that must not happen for several months after a period of sustained dominance for the faction.
As well as being portrayed as a threat to the entire locker room, this can be aided by how the group is presented on television. What made the nWo so successful in WCW was that in the early months their actions seemed incredibly spontaneous and it appeared to the fans that it was not part of the regular storyline. A positive start has been made with the introduction of The Shield from the crowd. This should continue as The Shield should be presented as something unique from the rest of the programme. Even the way they deliver promos should be completely different from the rest of the roster.
The final element to ensure that The Shield succeeds is something that is beyond their control, and that is the opponents that they are up against. Whether it was Dusty Rhodes with the Four Horseman, Sting with the nWo or Stone Cold Steve Austin with the Corporation, every heel faction needs a string hero to come up against. The desire of the fans to see their hero overcome the overbearing bullies is what sells out arenas, increases television ratings and brings pay per view buys.
Currently, The Shield is up against the dominating Ryback. While he is undoubtedly backed by the fans, he is young and inexperienced. It is difficult to see how The Shield can gain the upper hand on a superstar who will undoubtedly be protected as he is being positioned as a top star in the company for years to come.
At the moment few potential opponents seem feasible for The Shield. John Cena would not be a suitable option as he already draws a mixed response from the crowd and was heavily involved in the failure of the Nexus storyline. Randy Orton has spent most of 2012 consistently losing on television. An interesting angle could involve The Shield becoming embroiled with Daniel Bryan and Kane as they are both adored by the crowd and have the experience to enhance these new superstars.
After two weeks on television, The Shield has many positives in its favour. They have three strong characters in the group who are capable of having good matches and delivering strong promos. Though, in order for them to succeed it is important that the WWE follows the formula of other successful factions from the past.
They have to be developed as a group that is a serious threat to all the top WWE superstars and the action that they are involved with must be fresh, innovative and daring. Furthermore and most importantly they must be pitted against opponents who the crowds can really get behind and connect with. The Shield needs a strong babyface to make their cowardly and dastardly acts seem important to the programme. Hopefully, The Shield can continue to make a massive impact in the WWE universe as the programme desperately needs a catalyst to spark it back to life.