Friday, June 2, 2017

A Date That Will Live in Infamy

The ultimate betrayal
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Three years ago on this very day, Seth Rollins took a steel chair to Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, dissolving the best and most protected stable in WWE history. The Shield, which had just got done taking out Evolution the night before at Payback for the second straight pay-per-view event, vanished into the aether. Within two weeks, Rollins and Ambrose had changed their aesthetic, leaving only Reigns to keep the SWAT gear and theme song. While feuds and temporary dual partnerships have sprung up around the members, the only time an actual three-man reunion was ever teased was during Tribute to the Troops this past year, when they were all in the same place at the same time during a showdown between The (Bullet) Club and New Day.

The decision to end the group was controversial at the time, but rumblings suggested it could have come sooner. Plans for a mythical Shield three-way match at WrestleMania were slated for as early as XXX over the United States Championship, then held by Ambrose. Instead, they got a quick showcase win in a trios match against Kane and the New Age Outlaws. Weird. The three-way didn't happen in earnest until Battleground 2016, when it headlined the final event before brand extension began again. Either way, the group wasn't long for the world, no matter how many fans ached for them to stay together. I wonder how much of that ache would've been dulled had Ambrose or Reigns were the one to turn instead of Rollins, whose droning nasal delivery and high-flying, hard-bumping in-ring style better suited him to be an underdog hero instead of a corporate goon. Whatever the alternative, it's all lost to history now.

Even if WWE's mishandling of the group's singles runs has blunted the excitement, a full-fledged Shield reunion remains a trump card that the company can pull out sometime in the future. Until then, today is a day that exists as a crater in the collective hearts of WWE fans all across the globe. I still believe in The Shield, even if WWE doesn't.