It was nearly a year ago (November 18, 2012 to be exact) that The Shield first appeared on WWE television. In the time since they first appeared, they have taken the WWE and the WWE Universe by storm. They have for a large portion of the year been the most interesting thing going in the WWE, putting on great matches, infusing logic and true motivation into every action they took, and by being an all around awesome glimpse into the future of the WWE!

But as we all know, things can’t stay perfect forever. Nearing their one-year anniversary, The Shield is losing steam. One might say there are cracks in The Shield. Some people may say that those of us that feel this way are overreacting to an inordinate amount of losses The Shield have been taking of late, but my issue runs much deeper than something as superficial (in the WWE of course) as wins and losses. They have lost their original identity, their original drive, which is a huge part of what made The Shield such bad asses. I for one want The Shield to be as impressive and imposing as possible, but their current role as The Authority’s henchmen is far from ideal.

This week I am going to revisit the collective known as The Shield and analyze their current run as the footmen for The Authority and their slump. I’m going to look at why they worked so well in the past, what is different now, and try to figure out a way to bring the magic back to The Shield. Let’s Do This!

Why They Worked

There were several factors that contributed to the trio known as The Shield being something special, but I’m going to look at the three most important factors, at least as far as I’m concerned. Firstly, The Hounds Of Justice were like nothing we had been seeing in November of 2012. From their entrance through the crowd, to their ring attire, The Shield and its personnel were unique. There was nobody doing what they were doing, the way they were doing it, and that helped them to make an immediate impact on the main roster, and quickly become a special attraction and selling point for the WWE.

The second factor in the rise of The Shield that I feel is important to look at is the fact that they felt like a well-oiled machine; a force that was meticulous, smart, and determined. Everything that they did felt thoroughly thought through. Every situation that they found themselves in, they found a smart, logical, and often-inventive way to come out on top. The way they worked their numbers even when they didn’t have a numbers advantage. These guys game planned, and they worked as a unit in a way that factions simply haven’t in the WWE. It was truly a pleasure to watch and a big contributor to making The Shield special.

Finally, and in many respects most importantly, the third factor that heavily contributed to the impact that The Shield made in the WWE was their mission. They came in and had a clearly defined role they were playing and a goal they were striving toward. They were in the WWE to dispose of injustice. This mission statement framed everything that they did. Every time they attacked, targeted, or disposed of another superstar, they explained why the action was necessary and fit their personal code of conduct. Sure they were liberal with their definition of injustice, and yes they often had ulterior and more personal motives for their actions, but the fact that they made even the slightest attempt to give any context to the moves they made put them ahead of the curve in the WWE. They had a purpose and most importantly, reasoning behind what they did.

What’s Going Wrong?

If you ask me (and you must be if you’re reading this), the recent Shield slump (as it pertains to their current narrative and my perception of their place on the roster) is in large part due to the fact that they’ve lost a few of the things that made them special early in their run since joining forces with Triple H and The Authority. They’ve definitely lost their status as a well-oiled machine. The fact is that since joining forces with The Authority, they take orders, from Triple H, from Randy Orton, from Stephanie, and they don’t act of their own accord. Gone are the days of The Shield always having a game plan. Gone are the days of isolating and dismembering their opponents. Gone are the days of working as a solid unit, logically and methodically approaching every obstacle put in their way. They’ve become lackeys, hired goons, and appear to be no better than low-rent rent-a-cops. It’s a truly disappointing turn of events.

Another aspect of their rise that has been absent as of late is their mission. They don’t patrol the WWE as warped purveyors of Justice anymore. They are no longer judge, jury and executioner. They’ve lost their mission, their purpose, and only do things because they are told to do them. This change (or loss) of mission statement is problematic on two fronts. Firstly, because they just take orders from The Authority now, they don’t need to explain their actions anymore, which means we’ve had less Shield promo time, which is disappointing because Rollins and Reigns were improving with every opportunity they got to speak, and selfishly I just want more Ambrose promo time. Secondly, their new mission has them bumbling around, letting others get a huge leg up on them. To beat The Shield before was a feat, because it was hard to overcome their preparation and strength. Now beating The Shield is pretty customary because they are just hired goons that are pushed into conflict with absolutely no game plan.

I wish that The Shield’s affiliation with The Authority was more like their affiliation with CM Punk and Paul Heyman during Punk’s historic WWE Championship run. Punk and Heyman paid for a service from The Shield, and The Shield fulfilled their end of the bargain by whatever means they saw fit. They weren’t Heyman’s goons, they weren’t Punks lackeys; they were mercenaries. You supplied a job and they crafted their plans independently. I think that kind of relationship would have been better than Triple H telling them what to do, and when you think about it, it would have fit his passive aggressive evil boss character. He can always say that he didn’t tell The Shield what to do, he just told them what he needed done. Their actions are on them, not on Hunter. Alas, things just didn’t shake out like that, and The Shield are presently the thuggish flunkeys of The Authority.

Getting The Magic Back!

The unfortunate history of factions in the WWE is that once they’ve lost their magic, it’s nearly impossible to get it back. To do so would defy conventional wisdom. That being said there is a way that I could see The Shield reclaiming their mission, their effectiveness, and for all intents and purposes, their badass-edness. How? By having them go on like they have been, being inept rent-a-cops. These formerly proud and principled mercenaries, who’ve lost their way since being hired by Hunter just can’t seem to catch a break and eventually Hunter will chew them out and dismiss them. That’s when Paul Heyman will approach and offer the services of his Paul Heyman guys to be the new official gestapo of the WWE (this may or may not include the occasional services of Brock Lesnar).

Keep The Shield away for a few weeks, but one Raw when The Authority is attacking Daniel Bryan or CM Punk (or both): Sierra Hotel India Echo Lima Delta, SHIELD. Their music will play and through the crowd they will enter the arena, this time to make a stand against The Authority on behalf of justice. This could be a great way to have them regain their principles of justice, their steady preparation for their opponents, and their brilliant quick thinking. It would also start a new chapter in The Shield faction that could keep them going a little longer. Finally, it puts Rollins and Reigns in a position that I believe is more suitable for them once The Shield run is over, and will allow Dean Ambrose to become a mega-evil heel when you decide to pull the trigger and have him be the one to put an end to the trio’s partnership (possibly be being the devil that turns Rollins and Reigns on each other… But I’ll save the potential demise of The Shield for another day).

The Shield’s Authority Run FINAL GRADE: C-

I hate to give anything The Shield does less than an A grade, because that’s the grade I’d give each of the members talent level. All three will be major stars, and all three have proven that they can bring something special to the table, and while they still have shown the ability to go out there and have great matches despite the outcome, this grade is more derivative of the fact that they’ve lost the principles, discipline, and game-planning that made The Shield such a memorable and impactful faction to begin with.

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There you have it but as always I want to know what you think! Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Do you think The Shield is losing steam? What would you say is the cause of this cooling off? Do you think they’ve lost the magic forever? Or could you get behind a babyface iteration of The Shield?

Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas saying go see 12 Years A Slave… Powerful film. Also, get excited for the imminent NBA Season Hoop Heads! Have a great weekend everybody!