Many fans of WWE will remember when The Shield made their debut: Survivor Series 2012. We remember because are always reminded of the origins of the group.
This was before the WWE Network was launched, so you had to have either seen it live by ordering the pay-per-view or browsing through social media while the event took place. Or maybe it was the following night on Monday Night Raw where you caught the recap of the previous night’s actions. They were new faces to most of the WWE crowd as NXT had not yet become the phenomenon it is today.
It seemed like a lifetime has passed by with the group’s journey of successes, injuries, betrayals and battles between Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. But in only seven short years, their final chapter came to a triumphant end in their swan song as a group.
The story of The Shield is a hard one to truly dissect in terms of lasting impact and legacy. After all, the group had disbanded and reunited on multiple occasions during that time. But while together, they had some tremendous moments, including their feuds with The Wyatt Family and Evolution as well as winning the Tag Team and United States titles. It was as a unit, they re-popularized the crowd entrances. Their signature black combat attire was simple yet it brought upon an aura that was undeniable. The triple powerbomb and union of fists have left an indelible image in the minds of fans across the world. As a unit, it would be hard to argue that they were not one of the greatest trios this business has ever seen.
However, that narrative takes a detour because the group didn’t stay together throughout the duration of these last seven years. Instead, we saw these three individuals succeed tremendously as singles competitors since their first breakup in 2014. Rollins turned on The Shield and saw his career skyrocket (with the help of The Authority) to a successful cash-in on his Money in the Bank contract at WrestleMania 31, pinning Reigns for the WWE Championship. Reigns would win that championship a year later and would also become Universal Champion. Meanwhile, Ambrose would cash in his Money in the Bank contract in 2016 after winning the ladder match earlier in the night. In a span of three minutes that night, all three men had held the WWE Championship. Can you name a trio whose individuals have blossomed to that high-rate of individual success?
Despite how great the three were as a unit, they were even better as individuals. Their reunions since their initial breakup have been short lived, making their final run to Sunday’s match seemingly a grasp at a memory we refuse to let go into the abyss. But it was a triumphant swan song. It was everything we wanted to see from the group. The outfit was just like we remembered. The entrance was as if nothing had changed. The chaos was an embodiment of what made this group special. And of course, the Shield bomb through the table and to end the match was what we all wanted to see one last time. We got it. The perfect tribute to the group’s roots.
It is still difficult to let Sunday’s final appearance sink in. After all, it’s hard to even process the idea that Ambrose will be gone later this spring after his contract runs out. Rollins has his sights set on Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania and Reigns, back from his leukemia, has a renewed purpose in WWE. These three were never destined to have remained together forever. That we knew. Their time had passed them and the two reunions prior to Sunday were clear indicators that they had outshined and outgrown their own brilliance. Sunday was their chance to relive their glory one last time. For us and for themselves.
And that will remain their legacy. Together they were unstoppable. As individuals, they were equally dynamic. They taught us six letters of the NATO phonetic alphabet. They gave us great memories as a unit and as individual Superstars.