There are a few moments in history that have made wrestling fans openly weep. Roman Reigns' relinquishing of the Universal Championship due to the relapse of his Leukemia and sharing a hug with his Shield Brothers was one of them. If it wasn’t the look on his face as he said goodbye, the look on Seth Rollins' probably did you in. It was so real and raw that it snuffed out any doubt that the three truly do love each other. Despite the rocky road to reforming The Shield, it reminded us why we love them so much. The Shield isn’t just one of the most beloved stables, it was the most effective stable in WWE’s history. That title isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and we have 10 reasons to prove it.
10. Brief But Glorious
If we asked you how long The Shield had been together before Rollins' infamous betrayal, you might be tempted to overshoot it. A couple of years at least, right? Between debuting and breaking up, it was a mere 18 months. What an impact to have made in such a short period of time!
They accomplished everything they wanted to, and then they ended it. Just like that.
While some groups, like The New Day, have managed to keep things going without getting stale for years and years — most of the time fans get bored and stop caring. Not with the Shield, though. They made sure we would be left wanting more. We don’t talk a lot about efficiency in wrestling, but this is a masterclass in how to use the time you have well.
9. The Art Of Misdirection
Betrayal is a part of the lifeblood of wrestling. Everyone knew eventually that The Shield would break apart, if for no other reason than to create massive stars (more on that in a minute). If you had asked most people all the way back in 2015, Dean Ambrose was the leader and it would be Ambrose to turn on his brothers. After all, Ambrose was the frontman and at that point the best promo in the group. He was also working with that “Lunatic Fringe” gimmick and seemed to be the least predictable.
In hindsight, it is baffling to think Ambrose was ever the leader of The Shield when Rollins was so obviously pulling the strings. The Architect, as he later became known as, was in the perfect position to cut the dead weight and ascend to a cushier gig in the Authority. None of us ever saw it coming.
8. The Chair Shot Heard Round The World
If you asked most wrestling fans where they were when Seth Rollins turned on The Shield, they’d be able to tell you. Ask them how it made them feel in that moment, they’ll tell you. There was something so visceral about that chair shot... Maybe it’s because it came out of nowhere, both visually and emotionally. Or maybe it’s because after the dust had settled, it made all the sense in the world.
The clip, including just truly excellent selling by Reigns and Ambrose, has become a part of wrestling history. It was a moment of magic in the ring because of how real it felt. It was easily one of the best betrayals in WWE history.
7. Three Stars
WWE treats tag teams and stables as a vehicle to create single stars. That is just a fact at this point. Most of the time, one member gets the main event and the other gets to wrestle on Main Event. That's not so with The Shield.
All three have gotten the spotlight, and while it’s been to varying degrees, they were all World Champions within two years of breaking up. That is no small feat. Ironically, fans mostly expected Rollins to get lost in the mid-card as the flippy guy. Instead, he had the greatest cash-in of Money in the Bank possibly ever and carried the company for the better part of a year.
Ambrose was the youngest Grand Slam Champion in history and Reigns? Well, he was The Guy.
6. Never Letting Us Forget
The Shield has been over for years, but it’s never actually been done. Most of all, Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns have never been done with each other. Their incredible chemistry keeps bringing them back and it is one example where WWE doesn’t have a short-term memory.
Fans might groan when Reigns continued to use The Shield motifs, but we didn’t really want to let go either, did we? Every time Reigns, Rollins, and Ambrose were in the ring together, we all were instantly engaged. The three were really committed to not forgetting their history together and reminded us of it each and every time they had the chance. That’s part of the legacy they created, one where the story continues no matter what they’re currently doing.
5. Intertwined Stories
These three just can’t seem to get away or stay away from each other.
Each of them won their first world title by pinning one of their Shield brothers. First was Rollins, who of course won by cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania and pining Reigns. In turn, Reigns won the title after Rollins vacated by defeating Ambrose in the finals of a tournament. Ambrose completed the trilogy when he cashed in his own Money in the Bank briefcase on both Rollins and Reigns to win a championship of his own. It gives their story arcs a sense of intertwined destiny.
4. Feud Of The Year: Ambrose vs. Rollins
Hatred runs deep in wrestling, and few feuds have been as emotionally charged as Ambrose and Rollins. In real life, it’s clear the two are very close and have an enormous amount of respect for each other. In the ring, however, they want to tear each other apart.
Rollins once described Ambrose as his wrestling soulmate. It’s more than pure chemistry that makes their matches so good, though. Ambrose was the front man — he was considered the leader, and he probably considered himself to be calling the shots. Ambrose has done a stellar job in conveying how it felt to find out that he was a puppet all along. Make no mistake, Rollins didn’t just betray Ambrose, he made a fool out of him. That’s the driving force behind every match they’ve had, and it still lingers... even now.
3. The Reunion
Reigns, ever the peacemaker, may not have liked Rollins for what he did but seemed to be unfalteringly loyal regardless. “You’ll always be my little brother,” he once said to Rollins in the ring. Ambrose, not so much. His relationship with Rollins has been fraught with tension, which is why their reunion was so impactful.
They stretched the emotional arc of their reunion over the course of weeks. Rollins offered the fist bump just to be rejected by Ambrose, then Ambrose offered it and was rejected by Rollins. When they both finally accepted it, the pop in the crowd was massive. We were all so invested in their relationships because of the amount of time and effort WWE gave to the story. With the addition of Reigns, the Shield Reunion was off and running.
2. Three Grand Slam Champions
Beyond their World Championship accomplishments, Reigns, Rollins, and Ambrose have all had successful careers outside of the main event. All three are Grand Slam Champions.
Each have won a Tag Team title, the US Championship, the Intercontinental Championship, and a World Championship. That speaks to the depth of their work, that each are able to fit into whatever spot the WWE needs. Rollins, in particular, is currently doing some of his most impactful work as the Intercontinental Champion. His feud with The Miz and Finn Bálor was one of the best of 2018 and a major high point of WrestleMania 34. With the Universal Championship on a part-time schedule, that mid-card scene is carrying the show.
1. Main Event Conversation
Roman Reigns was forced to relinquish the Universal Title due to illness at the beginning of the month. It changed the main event of Crown Jewel to a one-on-one match between Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman. That also marked the first time since its introduction (with the exception of Bill Goldberg’s 28-day reign) that the Raw Main Event picture did not include one or more members of the Shield. Prior to the brand's split, they were also involved in the main event for the WWE Championship. These three men have largely dominated the main event of nearly every single pay-per-view. With how hot the feud between Rollins and Ambrose is currently, it seems likely one or both will jump back up to the main event scene soon.