JC’s Top Rope Report: Is The Shield One Of The Greatest Wrestling Factions Ever?
First let me start off by saying that I’m sorry I didn’t have a post up last week. I had almost no free time. But it was also helpful to take some time off and recharge the batteries.
I was trying to think of something to write about this week. WWE TV has kind of felt like a re-run for the last few weeks. It looks like Payback will have the same top three matches that Extreme Rules had. So nothing looks like it will change much in the coming weeks.
So this week I decided to take a look at The Shield. If you are to believe recent reports from the dirt sheets, The Shield is not breaking up any time soon. And that’s quite surprising when you consider that they were rumored to be breaking up heading into this year’s Wrestlemania. But for once, the WWE realizes that they have a good thing going with The Shield and they don’t want to screw it up. The face run that The Shield has been on has gotten over better than what the WWE expected. All three men have taken to their roles as faces well. And that includes Dean Ambrose, someone who is much better as a heel and whose entire character and mannerisms are best suited for a heel. But he’s adopted his character well to being a face.
With The Shield sticking together for the foreseeable future, I decided to look at The Shield’s place in wrestling history as one of the greatest factions of all time. By staying together for as long as they have (now at 18 months) they deserve to be a part of the conversation. Great factions stick together and remain relevant for a long time. And there is no denying that The Shield has done that. There may have been a time in the late summer/early fall where they lost a little bit of steam. But obviously that hasn’t effected how they are doing today.
Another factor in The Shield’s success has been their ability to put on constantly good to great matches with anyone put in the ring with them. It started with all of the six men tags that the group had. You can go back to their first PPV Match: A six man TLC match against Ryback, Daniel Bryan and Kane. Watching that match you knew that this group had the potential to be something special. Every six man tag after that has been entertaining. They were the highlight of RAW for the longest time (and you could argue they still are). While having six man tags, The Shield also went on to win WWE titles. Dean Ambrose won the US Title, while Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns went on to win the Tag Titles. While Ambrose didn’t have that great of a reign as Champ, Rollins and Reigns definitely helped elevate the Tag Titles. They had a great match with The Usos on the pre-show at Money in the Bank. I would argue it was the best match of the night. They then went on to have a good set of matches with the Rhodes Brothers. And now you can add recent six man tags against The Wyatt Family and Evolution to the mix. There aren’t a lot of misses when it comes to Shield matches.
Another great feature of The Shield is that just like other great factions in wrestling history, each member brings their own unique presence to the group. Roman Reigns is the powerhouse, and his move set shows that. But Reigns doesn’t have a slowed down move set for a big man. He is much more athletic. His moves still deliver an impact. My personal favorite is the ring apron dropkick. I also think he delivers the spear rather well. Seth Rollins is the high flyer of the group. He wows the crowd with all of his moves. I’m sure by now everyone has seen his insane dive from the stands at Extreme Rules. Rollins is Jeff Hardy but an upgraded, better version without the personal problems. Dean Ambrose is the mat wrestler of the group who has an edge to him. As I said above, the guy is tailor made to be a heel but has adopted well to being a face.
So, after going through all of these positives that The Shield has, you start to wonder where they are listed among the greatest stables ever. They don’t touch the top group on my list, the Four Horsemen. The Horsemen almost single-handily kept Jim Crocket promotions going when they were up against the WWF. They had INCREDIBLE heat during the eighties. Not only that but their matches were just as good as The Shield’s. And the Horsemen had the top guy in the promotion, Ric Flair, as a member. It always helps a faction when the top dog in the company is with them.
Next on the list would be the nWo. And really, the nWo is number 2 because they had such a huge impact on the wrestling buisness in the mid-90s. Without the nWo, the Monday Night Wars might have never gotten as big as they did. The nWo launched a whole new era of professional wrestling. They didn’t have the same quality matches as The Shield, but their impact and recognition in the history of pro wrestling puts them at number two on the list. The one thing that keeps the nWo from the top of the list is that they 1. Got way too big as far as members go and 2. They stuck around for way too long. The group should have started to disband after Starrcade 97. But of course, WCW as a whole started to go down hill after 1997. But the lasting impact the nWo had on the wrestling business puts them at number 2.
Around here I might start listening to arguments about The Shield, but they don’t go ahead of my number 3 group which is the Fabulous Freebirds. Even though the Von Erichs were a hot act in Texas and World Class Championship Wrestling, the Freebirds gave them a new rivalry that helped launch everyone involved into stardom. Most people look at the Freebirds as one of the originators when it comes to factions in pro wrestling. They helped introduce rock and roll to wrestling and were one of the first to have entrance themes. Anyone who knew about WCCW knew that the heat the Freebirds got from some of those crowds makes anything that happens today look like nothing. The Freebirds did a great job of keeping the crowds hating them throughout their WCCW run. They take the number 3 spot on my list.
Number 4 on my list ends up being D-X. But I will be honest with you and say that I was tempted to put The Shield here. As big of a D-X fan as I was, I still tend to think their importance is a little bit over-rated when it comes to the Attitude Era. After Shawn Michaels left and the “new” D-X was formed, they really weren’t main event players during that time period. And by Wrestlemania 15 they were dis-banded. D-X gets number four on my list because I think you could argue that they started the Attitude Era with Shawn Michaels and Triple H. But everything that came after Wrestlemania 14 is kind of overrated in my eyes. Were they still popular? Yes. But looking back on everything I think they sometimes get more praised than warranted.
And as we get to number 5 on my list, this is where I would put The Shield. When you compare them to other groups that would come up on list, I just think their match quality out-rates everyone else. Not only that, but no other group on any list would have as much historical impact as the top four. And we still don’t know what the future holds for The Shield after their break-up. One thing is for certain is that being in this faction has helped ensure the future of all three men involved. Had they debuted separately, they may not have had the same success in the future. But being in The Shield has helped all three men develop their characters and grow as performers even more. The longevity that the group has maintained also helps put them at this spot. And the best thing is that you know there is a lot more to come for The Shield as a group. I could be over-rating them right now, but I truly believe that even if others don’t agree, they will find their way up here when we look back on The Shield in a few years. Especially if they all become huge singles stars.
So that’s where The Shield ranks on my all time factions list. I think it will be really tough for them to get any higher, but I wouldn’t rule anything out. What would the rest of my list look like if you were wondering?
6. The Corporation/Corporate Ministry
7. The Dangerous Alliance
9. The Hart Foundation
10. The Heenan Family
So what does your list look like? And where do you think The Shield ranks in terms of the greatest factions of all time?
Until Next Time,
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka