I know I’m not alone. The Shield has unified us as fans, and it feels fantastic to love wrestling because our instincts – and not Vince McMahon - have told us to. Thomas Briggs and Matty J. Douglas have written excellent columns on The Shield already. John Canton and Andrew Johnson have given eloquent praise to The Shield in their RAW and SmackDown recaps. Why would I so brazenly take on The Shield in yet another column?
I just can’t get them off my mind. With titles in hand, this is a pivotal time for The Shield: will they move away from sneak attacks and handheld video cameras? Will they forget about doling out justice and (god forbid) start entering down the ramp? Will they evolve, or just change? We’ve all been holding our collective breath, waiting for the WWE to ruin The Shield for us. But what if they don’t? What if the Wyatt Family comes in, and they’re great too? After sticking it out through the fart gags, what if we are rewarded with a new era of wrestling?
21 Things I Love About The Shield
1. SIERRA HOTEL INDIA ECHO LIMA DELTA. John Cena may wear dog tags and salute before he hits the ring, but this is the best thing borrowed from the military since said position. The call signs, spoken by The Shield before their music hits, are super cool.
2. Yes, I am easily taken in by a good ring entrance. I picture Richie Steamboat watching The Shield’s entrance, and thinking, “My legacy will be riding on a pony in an Elvis onesie.” Meanwhile, his former NXT colleagues are coming in through the crowd looking totally badass. I am especially enamoured with Rollins’ roll over the barricade, and the way he loosens his ponytail for action. No, I do not have a ponytail fetish. This is a testimony to The Shield’s awesomeness, because they can make ponytail loosening appealing.
3. I was literally on the edge of my seat during The Shield’s match at TLC. Prior to that, I had refused to invest much interest in them, given the WWE’s track record with rebel factions. They earned a “This is awesome” chant after Reigns speared Kane into the timekeeper’s lap, but that was merely an appetizer. I think I gasped aloud when Ryback tossed Rollins off a ladder through two stacked tables. In the end, his teammates gathered up his body in a sick, victorious tableau.
4. They are so good at being heels that we cheer them. This has happened with heels like Steve Austin (whose antics were too entertaining to be booed) and Dolph Ziggler (whose ridiculous bumps won us over). On Monday night, I found myself in the delightful position of being torn over the outcome of a match. I wanted Daniel Bryan to succeed, yet I would have been sad if he did. May The Shield never, ever want us to cheer for them.
5. They have been oh-so consistent. They say they are going to do something, and they do it. They have been unstoppable. And you know what? It feels earned, and so we do not begrudge them their success.
6. Their consistency is such that they could be called predictable, but no one does! Everyone called for their title wins at Extreme Rules, and I was afraid that Vince McMahon would swerve us. He did not, and the Shield won. I don’t think anyone minded that we predicted it, right after a Wrestlemania that we complained was too predictable. When executed correctly, a predictable ending can feel very satisfying.
7. The Shield obviously went into Extreme Rules knowing the outcome, but that didn’t take away from their joyous celebration. Their huge smiles and hugs were genuine, and so endearing. I have always loved the way The Shield interacts. During matches, they trash talk their opponents and the ref, but also encourage and advise each other. After delivering a triple powerbomb, they’ll congratulate each other with a hair tousle or a pat on the back. It’s the brotherhood of sports entertainment that I have always found so fascinating.
8. Since their debut, there has been only one loose thread in the story of The Shield. Paul Heyman was paying them off in exchange for attacking his foes, but they immediately dropped this story, in classic WWE fashion. Otherwise, there have been no secret members, no betrayals, no questions. Miraculous.
9. Three is a winning combination. You need more than two to create a “faction”, but not so many that the diversity of its members dilutes the feeling of the whole. Having a team of 3 has resulted in some superb 6-man tag matches that afford wrestlers the chance to compose a story with thrilling combinations. Double thumbs up for giving them the time to do it!
10. They work as a unit. They have complimentary qualities in the ring (the Scrappy One, the Nimble One, and the Powerhouse). Everyone’s mic time has been throttled according to skill, so everyone comes off strong. Even though they are now separated in theory by their titles, The Shield continues to work in solidarity at every opportunity.
11. The freakin’ helicopter.
12. At face value, Dean Ambrose isn’t very intimidating. But when he wrestles, Ambrose becomes the terrifying nephew of an Irish mobster. Cold. Precise. It proves that talent plays a very large role in how someone’s physical appearance is perceived. Rollins and Reigns have also proven themselves, the latter exceeding fans’ expectations. They can move, they can pound, they can take bumps. Their youth and experience are at a sweet spot right now. Reigns is strong and athletic, with a Samoan pedigree. Rollins has tons of indy credibility and is clearly fearless.
13. The trio has been anointed by The Undertaker, who wrestled Dean Ambrose in his only singles match (outside of WrestleMania) in 3 years. Ambrose lost, but The Shield came out on top after attacking ‘Taker after the bell. Thank you, The Undertaker, for giving your time to elevate these guys. Thank you, The Shield, for not squandering it.
14. These guys possess the natural ability to do everything with cool confidence.When Team Hell No enters the ring, The Shield exits in a perfunctory manner. It’s what everyone does, but they manage to do so without looking scared or weak.
15. They wrestle better than Fandango, wearing more clothing than Fandango has ever worn in his life. Thank goodness The Shield upgraded from the almost-turtleneck situation at Survivor Series. That was a close call, because turtlenecks be trippin’. The flak vests became immediately Heather Approved once the Big Boss Man references died down, and The Shield proved themselves in the ring.
16. No kitschy merchandise – yet, at least. I am glad that there are no flak-vest-looking t-shirts or Seth Rollins wigs. If you believe in The Shield, then you can buy a black shirt that says “Justice Isn’t Free”, or (the obvious choice) a muscle shirt version thereof.
17. The Shield isn’t the most inventive name, but it too has totally grown on me. Just like I never thought I could like anyone going by “Dolph Ziggler”, these guys have proven that the men make the name. Could they have won me over in turtlenecks? Don’t make me answer that question. I just don’t know.
18. Wrestlers raise their game when The Shield is in the ring. I have never liked Kofi Kingston or Randy Orton (or confession time: Kane) as much as I have these last few weeks against The Shield. The members of The Shield all work with believable impact, and can work quickly, because with a team of three they can take breaks. Kofi usually works so lightly, Orton so ploddingly, and Kane so predictably. All three have been fun to watch lately, and I credit The Shield.
19. Last week, I criticized the commentators’ exaggerated language to hype Fandango. But when Michael Cole calls The Shield “The greatest team in the history of the WWE”, it’s not as offensive to me. It’s probably not true, but it’s true enough. The Shield is great because they can stand up to the hyperbole.
20. Their unique approach to promos has served them well. They filmed their own at first, which was in keeping with their guerilla mentality, and they sat down to a special interview with Michael Cole. This was a brilliant way to differentiate them at the beginning, and control their message. Ambrose stood out as the most competent speaker, and they minimized Rollins’ and Reigns’ mic time - far better than giving everyone equal time and seeing two of them flounder. I will forgive almost anything (turtlenecks) if you can do your talking in the ring.
21. Now that they have titles, we may see less sneak attacks, but more wrestling. And because of items 1-20, you know that I’m okay with that.
I would love to read your opinions in the comments below. And if the WWE does screw things up, be sure to send me your entry for Most Meme-able Fan Expression When The Shield Went To Shit! I’m on twitter @kickyhick or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!