The Shield are the most important trio of performers of the current generation of wrestlers. Since they debuted in 2012, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns have led the rise of the current generation, they’ve had some of the most important matches of the decade and while they haven’t escaped the troubled creative direction that has plagued every wrestler in the WWE over the time, they have collectively receive the most sustained support or ‘push’ from the back office.
Purely statistical they hold a number of milestones for this generation, Seth Rollins was the first ever NXT Heavyweight Champion, in 2014 at Hell in a Cell, Seth and Dean were the first main event made up of performers that debuted this decade, in 2015 Roman Reigns was the first Royal Rumble winner of the ‘NXT Generation’ and Seth was the first WWE Champion. For better or worse Roman Reigns is one of only two performers to headline four consecutive Wrestlemanias, and not to be out done, when he won the WWE Championship in 2016, Dean Ambrose became the first Grand Slam Champion of the current generation.
Furthermore the collective story of their rise to the top, breakups and makeups have made up a core part of the narrative of the WWE weekly tv show. From their initial debut and rise from late 2012 to their breakup in mid 2014, to Seth and Dean’s year on year story that has defined both performers singles careers, to the omnipresent meta-story that has constantly surrounded Roman Reigns singles push. There is just no escaping the importance of these three men to the current WWE product.
And yet at Wrestlemania 35, with the possible departure of Dean Ambrose from the WWE, at least for the time being it looks like a curtain will be drawn on their association. While it will be sad to see this monumentally important group dissolve, the WWE has a chance to tell one last great story with these three men and create a lasting Wrestlemania memory that is 100% about the current generation of talent.
What I would like to see from the WWE is a focus on the redemption of all three members of The Shield. In recent months and years all three characters have had to struggle through different internal or external battles that can climax at this year’s Wrestlemania. Most obviously over the last five months Roman Reigns had to grapple with cancer, a sickness that touches so many in this world and a sickness that threatened more than just his ability to wrestle in the ring. Yet, as he shared on Monday, he was able to rise above his own fear and doubt to overcome this killer.
Reigns’ return and redemption from the clutches of cancer can not only be an uplifting moment for everyone who has ever been touched by the disease but can also be the storyline catalyst for Dean Ambrose redemption. Since the night Reigns left the WWE to focus on his health, Dean has lost himself in a dark pit that at it worst saw him burning a vest that once meant everything to him and blaming Roman for the cancer that was eating away at his brother’s body. Roman and Dean have always had a tight bond and having them triumphantly fight alongside each other at the biggest show of the year would be a reminder of the successful years they have both had together, a statement that the hurt both felt over the past five months is behind them.
This all of course coincides with the final chapter in Seth Rollins own redemption from his worst tendencies when he was last a World Champion in 2015. Back then Seth’s addiction to success and glory saw him betray everything he once held dear; winning back the company’s top championship after turning his life around will truly show he has buried those dark years behind him. Seth’s own turn around can act as a path for Dean to follow back to the light, back to his brother’s sides, a final curtain call with all three members embracing after Rollins wins the Universal Title would be a fitting way to close down this chapter for all of their character arcs.
We got a glimpse of what the WWE may actually have cooking, on Raw last week, as the returning Roman Reigns joined Seth Rollins on the way to the ring, saving Dean from yet another beatdown. Crucially they didn’t spend time in the ring with him, instead it seemed to be more a show of force for the returning Reigns, a preemptive strike against the likes of McIntryre and Elias who were a constant thorn in the side of Reigns and Rollins last summer. It showed all is not forgiven or forgotten for Ambrose but for a guy that has so often been defined by loyalty, a brief glimpse that all his bridges haven’t been burnt may be enough for him to reconsider where he stands.
An interesting aspect to all of this, especially for someone like me who has really enjoyed watching how Dean and Seth’s character arcs have evolved, is that this is the first time Ambrose hasn’t held the moral high ground in their relationship. Because Rollins was the one that first planted the chair in Dean’s back, Dean has been able to internally consider himself superior to his brother, he has been able to call himself a man of higher values and standards. However for the first time, this historically headstrong and self-righteous character, will have to humble himself to rejoin the brotherhood he once valued so highly and was at least last week, openly reminiscing about.
There are lots of ways this story involving Dean could go and all of this has been muddied by the new reports this week saying Dean is now potentially staying with the WWE. Speaking on Twitter with some readers I have heard a desire to see a loser leaves town between Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose at Wrestlemania or a tag match with Reigns and Ambrose. On his LOP Radio podcast Sport’s Entertainment is Dead, Samuel ‘Plan suggested the most compelling story the WWE could tell, is a tragic ending for this version of Dean Ambrose; a man who may want to return to his brother’s sides but cannot overcome his own pride.
However as interesting as all of those options would be, if Dean Ambrose is indeed leaving the WWE I believe that for all they have symbolised both within the WWE and to the fans that follow the trio, The Shield deserves a happy ending. One final moment of triumph before a curtain comes down on their association, one final moment showing all men at the peak of their powers, united and celebrating together.
Thanks for reading LOP. How do you think The Shield’s Wrestlemania story should go? Let me know in the comments below, on Twitter @Sir_Samuel or you can even write about it yourself on the LOP Columns Forum. It is where every columnist on this site started and will make you both a better writer and a more engaged wrestling fan. You can sign up here.