Sierra. Hotel. India. Echo. Lima. Delta. Hey, that spells SHIELD in phonetic alphabet. Who’d have thunk?
From the moment they made their debut at Survivor Series 2012, The Shield were clearly earmarked for great things in WWE. Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns have become one of the most successful factions in WWE history, with a total of 12 championships between two, countless main event matches and moments that will serve as some of this generations’ greatest. While they may not get along in kayfabe, the three former members of the group are probably still best buds behind the scenes and, as you know, friends in wrestling can get pretty competitive, especially among three alphas like Seth, Roman and Dean. God, that sounded a bit like that creepy fan fiction. Never again.
Anyway, my point is, the three guys are going to want try and out do the rest with their achievements in WWE. Whilst there are some things members of The Shield did together – they all main evented their first PPV together and Dean and Seth were the first to enter Hell in a Cell – most of The Shield’s accolades came on an individual level, so that means someone had to do it first. I smell a list!
So, to help the boys in black decide just who’s the most macho, here are five things that each Shield member did before the other two. Please don’t stop reading when you get to the Roman Reigns bit. If not for Roman, then for me.
15 SETH ROLLINS
5. WIN THE WWE TITLE
We’ll start with the obvious one, shall we?
Not many factions can claim to have begun with three developmentals and ended with three world champions, but The Shield most certainly can. Roman holds the record for most world title reigns with three and Dean is the only one still in the WWE Championship picture on account of him being on Smackdown, but it was Seth who kicked things off when he became the first ex-member of the group to be world champ.
Most of you will know the story, but for those of you who don’t, I thoroughly recommend hoping on the WWE Network and checking out WrestleMania 31. Go and do it, I’ll wait... ok, I’ve waited long enough. Seth made history when he cashed in Money in the Bank in the middle of the main event between Brock Lesnar and ex-Shield buddy, Roman Reigns, turning their singles bout in a triple threat and pinning Roman to become WWE Champion for the very first time. His reign would last 220, the longest of any Shield member and would only end with an injury to Seth’s knee, which of course gave us the award-winng Roman Reigns/Sheamus feud of late 2015. So many bad memories.
14 Win Money In The Bank
If you didn’t pick this up from the previous paragraph, I’d stop reading now. Might get too tricky for you.
After The Shield broke up in June 2014, The Authority made Seth their golden boy and were dead set on him winning the Money in the Bank ladder match, which would pretty much guarantee him a reign as WWE Champion. This not only established Seth as a strong upper midcard talent (the usual entrants in the match), but also allowed for a great feud with Dean Ambrose, who also joined the match shortly after Seth. Oh, the Seth and Dean feud. Now there are some good memories.
Rollins, with more than a little help from Kane (story of Seth in The Authority, right there), bested Ambrose, Kofi kingston, Dolph Ziggler, Rob Van Dam and Jack Swagger to win the briefcase in one of the best booking decisions in Money in the Bank history. 273 days and Rollins made history at Mania. Shame the rest of his title reign was a but bleugh, but we can’t have everything. We are wrestling fans, after all.
13 Main Event A Big Four PPV
Right, time for some more obscure facts now, because I’m pretty sure even my nan knew those first two and she hates wrestling. (Please don’t flame my nan in the comments, she’s lovely really.)
The Shield have a pretty good record at the Big Four WWE Pay-Per-Views. They debuted at Survivor Series, let us remember, and have all been in the Royal Rumble, which technically counts as the main event, I guess. Both Roman and Seth have main-evented WrestleMania and its only SummerSlam that’s never had a Shield member in the main event, but you can thank Brock Lesnar for that. But who was the first man to main event one of WWE biggest shows? That would be none other than your boy, Seth. Which is good, because if it wasn’t, this’d be in the wrong bit of the list.
Rollins did this as a part of the main event of Survivor Series 2014, when his Team Authority battled Team Cena in what might be the best traditional Survivor Series match in history. Rollins partnered Luke Harper, Kane, Rusev and Mark Henry to take on Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, The Big Show and Erick Rowan and even managed to eliminate big Johnny Cena after The Big Show turned heel and took him out, because of course he did. It is The Big Show after all. Rollins made it to the final one-on-one showdown with Dolph Ziggler, before a debuting Sting assisted the faces and ousted The Authority. Well, for about five weeks. Like I said, can’t have everything.
12 Get Drafted
Because who wouldn’t wanna pick the man first?
In the inaugural draft of the new Brand Split era on the first ever live episode of Smackdown, Seth Rollins became the first man to be drafted in five years, as well as the first overall draft pick of the new brand split. Rollins joined men like The Rock, John Cena and, of course, The Great Khali in being drafted first and it was clear that the Raw brand had high hopes for The Architect.
Rollins’ being drafted first made sense; he was Stephanie McMahon’s pet project and was facing Dean Ambrose for the title later that night, so he could have brought the title to Raw, but why Stephanie didn’t just draft Dean, you know, the world champion, first is a little confusing to some, especially when, in kayface, Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan probably wouldn’t have wanted to draft Seth anyway. But, thems the breaks and Seth will forever be the first Shield member to get drafted, with Ambrose coming in at a close second. Reigns was a lowly sixth, by the way. Pathetic.
11 Turn Heel
Ah, where it all began.
Seth Rollins is the one we have to thank for the main event runs of all three former Shield members, as it was he who broke the group up when he shockingly turned heel in June 2014. The night after the trio defeated Evolution at Payback, Triple H and Randy Orton made their way to the ring to confront Seth, Roman and Dean and then Triple H uttered the now-infamous line “there’s always a Plan B.” With that, Rollins cracked Reigns over the back with a chair and laid into a shocked looking Dean Ambrose. Seth had gone bad and was now a member of The Authority. God, this was good.
It was one of the best swerves in WWE history, one of the best Raw endings and one of the best heel turns. And yes, I know that The Shield broke into WWE as heels, but this was the first time one of its members had turned heel, as The Shield were massive babyfaces prior to this shocking twist. It was the move that launched the careers of these three men and we can all thank Crossfit-Jesus for that. Although, does that technically make him responsible for that “sufferin’ succotash” line? If so, then Seth, you should be ashamed of yourself.
10 ROMAN REIGNS
5. MAIN EVENT WRESTLEMANIA
Oh dear, I can feel the boos already.
You can lump winning the Royal Rumble into this paragraph too, because one led to the other. Reigns’ journey to WrestleMania main event-dom (I guess that’s what it’s called) began on 25th January 2015, when he won the Royal Rumble match to huge cheers from his adori-pfft!, no, sorry, I just couldn’t keep a straight face. Obviously they booed him out of the building and all the way to Mania.
Reigns was nowhere near ready enough to win the Rumble (especially when Daniel Bryan was in it) and the boos for him at WrestleMania 31 were horrendous and really tarnished what was a great match between him a Brock Lesnar. Luckily, the awful ending of Reigns winning clean was avoided when Seth Rollins cashed in Money in the Bank. If only he could have done that the year after...
9 Challenge For The WWE Championship On PPV
More boos, I can tell there are going to be more boos.
You could say that Roman Reigns was shot to the top of the card with breakneck speed following the dissolution of The Shield, and then you can say that again because it’s absolutely true. Want proof? Reigns was placed in a world title match on the two Pay-Per-Views following the Shield’s break up, whilst Seth and Dean had to contend with matches lower down the card. Wow. Talk about rushed.
Reigns's appearance in the ladder match for the WWE title at Money in the Bank 2014 mades him the first ex-Shield member to challenge for the world title on Pay-Per-View. Seth wouldn’t get his chance until Royal Rumble 2015, whereas Dean had to wait almost an entire year until Payback 2015, in a match also involving Reigns and Rollins. Reigns also became the first man to challenge for the title one on one during his WrestleMania match with Brock Lesnar, although that did end up as a triple threat. Damn, all these technicalities. Just go back to booing Roman. That at least makes sense.
8 Fight Brock Lesnar One-On-One
The Beast vs The Least, you could say.
Fighting Brock Lesnar is something of a big deal in modern day WWE. His status as a part-timer (emphasis on the word part) means that it’s a big deal when he shows up, even more so when he actually wrestles. Since his return in 2012, men like John Cena, Triple H, Goldberg, Randy Orton and, yes, The Big Show, have all gone one on one with The Beast, but, of WWE’s next generation of stars, Roman was the first to do battle with Lesnar.
Technically, Seth was the first to fight Lesnar, but that was in a triple threat with John Cena at Royal Rumble 2015 and this segment does say “one on one”, idiots! You’re going on the list! Reigns’ meeting with Brock at Mania 31 made it the first time an ex-member of The Shield clashed with Brock in a singles match and it’s something that all three can now claim to have done. Rollins fought Lesnar at Battleground 2015, only to be saved by The Undertaker, and Dean Ambrose and Lesnar put on a thoroughly unimpressive match at this year’s show of shows. Did any of them manage to beat the Beast? Umm... no, no they didn’t. But hey, if Goldberg can do it, then there’s hope yet.
7 Kick Out Of Daniel Bryan’s Running Knee
This one is a little specific.
Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns; with the push of one and the popularity of the other, the WWE could have made millions. Bryan and Reigns’ history goes back pretty far. They faced off in Reigns’ debut match in WWE, when Team Hell No and Ryback battled The Shield at TLC 2012. Bryan handed The Shield their first ever loss when he forced Seth Rollins to tap out on Smackdown (of all places) and The Shield were the ones to end Team Hell No’s tag team title run at Extreme Rules 2013. So, when the two faced off at Fastlane 2015 for a chance to main event WrestleMania, there was quite a fair bit of history behind it.
In a match that I actually rather liked, both Reigns and Bryan pulled out all the stops to get to the main event of WrestleMania. Fans thought Bryan had beaten Reigns when he connected with his finsiher, the Running Knee, a move no one had ever kicked out of before. However, to the fans shock (and probable disappointment), Reigns lifted the shoulder at two, making him the first (and I believe only) man to beat this move. It’s a bit of a niche record, but considering the popularity of Bryan and that no one else has ever kicked out of the move, I thought it was worth mentioning.
6 Get Suspended
Ah, yes, I can feel the smarks rejoicing as I type.
Reigns seemed to be on top of the world in mid-2016. He was WWE Champion, had the full force of the company’s creative behind him and had just vanquished AJ Styles in a brilliant match at Extreme Rules. Reigns was going into his next match – against Seth Rollins at Money in the Bank – with the fanbase fully expecting him to retain the gold. But then he didn’t. In a shocking twist, Reigns was beaten clean as a whistle by Rollins, before Rollins himself was beaten by Ambrose’s Money in the Bank cash in. It was an incredible night. Shame the catalyst for it was probably drugs.
As was revealed two nights after this, Reigns had been suspended by WWE for violating its Wellness Policy. Now, say what you will about the controversial policy, but Reigns was out of action for 30 days, missing much of the build to his Battleground match with Rollins and Ambrose before being beaten numerous times on TV as a sort of punishment. Reigns might have been riding high before the suspension, but, in a way, it might actually have been good for him. His current place on the card is exactly as it should be (upper-midcard) and he’s still been featured in some pretty prominent feuds. So, all’s well that ends well, I guess. People still hate him, though. Sorry, Big Dog.
5 DEAN AMBROSE
5. WIN THE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Last and by no means least (unless you’re a WWE writer), it’s Dean Ambrose.
Ambrose has actually been a pretty successful performer all things considered. He was the go-to singles performer when The Shield were still together and you could say he’s the only ex-member still in a main event spot today, considering Raw has been pretty much dominated by Brock Lesnar and Goldberg recently. One indicator of his success is the fact that he was the first member of The Shield to win a singles title (which we’ll get to later) and he’s the only member to have won the coveted Intercontinental Championship (which we’ll get to now, obviously.
Dean Ambrose defeated Kevin Owens for his Intercontinental Championship at TLC 2015, reigning for 64 days before dropping the belt back to Owens on Raw. Ambrose’s reign with title might have been short and sweet, but it does make him the only ex-Shield member to win that title, as well as the only to challenge for it on PPV (Rollins challenged for it on Raw once). For such a prestigious title to have only been held by one member of The Shield is odd and it looks like this is how things are going to stay considering how each man is positioned at the moment. So, way to go Ambrose. Good lunatic.
4 Compete In A TLC Match
Seems appropriate considering TLC is just around the corner.
The Shield have had a god in pretty much all of the WWE’s signature match types. They’ve all been in the Royal Rumble match, Rollins and Ambrose fought each other in a Hell in a Cell match in 2014 and they’ve each been in countless ladders, tables, cage and other fun matches for our morbid entertainment. However, when it comes to Tables, Ladders and Chairs matches, it was your boy Dean that did it first.
At the TLC Pay-Per-View in 2014, Seth Rollins was fighting John Cena in a Tables match, in which a previously-injured Roman Reigns interfered. This left Dean, who had been feuding with Bray Wyatt at the time, to main event the show in the titular match type. It was a pretty good match, albeit with a pretty dumb ending in which a TV blew up in Ambrose’s face. Also, it ended by pinfall, which I don’t think is how TLC matches are meant to end. Alright, well, it was the first TLC match I ever saw, so I liked it. The rest of you, be quiet.
3 Compete For A Championship At WrestleMania
This is actually a pretty huge honour, when you think about it.
Ambrose narrowly takes this one and he did it all the way back at WrestleMania 31, the first WrestleMania following the breakup of The Shield. Roman Reigns would do battle for Brock Lesnar’s WWE Championship in the main event, Seth Rollins was facing Randy Orton and would, of course, go onto become the first ex-Shield member to win a title at Mania by chasing in, and opening the show in a seven man ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship was none other than The Lunatic Fringe himself.
Alongside Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, Stardust, Luke Harper and R-Truth, Ambrose fought for Bad News Barrett’s Intercontinental Championship in what was a pretty decent ladder match. Ambrose is perhaps most remembered for taking a massive running powerbomb through a ladder balanced between the barricade and the apron from Luke Harper in the match’s biggest spot, which effectively took him out for good. Don’t worry Dean, your time as IC champ came. It did end in about two months, but it still came.
2 Break A Title Reign Record
Wow, this seems like a lifetime ago.
I mentioned earlier that Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns won the WWE Tag Team Championships back at Extreme Rules 2013. However, what I didn’t mention was that, at the very same show, Dean Ambrose defeated Kofi Kingston to begin a 351-day reign as United States Champion. This is, of course, the longest reign of any United States Champion since the title became property of the WWE, edging out former holder, MVP, by just eight days. Ouch. That’s gotta sting.
Ambrose had a fairly uneventful reign (and by that I mean he defended the belt about twice) before losing the title to Sheamus in a battle royal on Raw, making him the first man to lose the US title in that sort of match. What doesn’t change however is the fact that Ambrose is the only member of The Shield to break a title reign record and that’s likely going to be the case for some time unless his old buddy Roman keeps his US Championship for a long, long time. You never know with Roman Reigns, you never know.
1 Beat John Cena Clean
Now this one really matters.
The upside of John Cena being more protected than a mother’s son who isn’t very good at football (he’s just not hit his growth-spurt yet, that’s all!) is that, when someone does beat him, it’s a big deal. The invincible Cena of the past decade seems to be slowly disappearing and he has lost more times than people give him credit for, but just look at what beating Cena clean did for Kevin Owens. Say what you will, but that victory put Owens on a lot of fans’ radars. When it comes to former Shield members, only two have actually faced Cena (WWE obviously still see a lot of money in Roman vs John. The crowd would be so confused) and, whilst both have beaten him on TV, only one can say they’ve done it clean.
On the 20th September 2016 edition of Smackdown Live (yeah, we get it's live already; just go back to calling it Smackdown), Cena and Ambrose battled in the main event. After countering the “wacky line” (yes, the rebound clothesline is called that) into the AA, Cena was surprised to see Ambrose wriggle his way into a pin and even more surprised when the ref counted to three. Ambrose had beaten Cena, clean as a whistle. Wow. Rollins needed help from Jon Stewart to do that. Oh Lord. I’d forgotten about that. Now I’m going to have nightmares again. Thanks a lot, guys.