After weeks of hints and teases of a reunion, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose finally aligned after three years apart on the October 9th episode of Monday Night Raw, taking out The Miz, Cesaro, Sheamus, and then later Braun Strowman. Fans went crazy after seeing the signature fist bump once again. It was solidified: The Shield were back.
The match was signed, the newly formed Shield would take on The Miz, Cesaro, Sheamus and Strowman in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match at TLC. The following week, Kane made a shocking return, emerging from beneath the ring to help Strowman defeat Reigns in a Steel Cage Match, thus adding himself to the match to make it a 3-on-5 handicap match.
Excitement and eagerness for the match was palpable, however just a few days before the event, Reigns feel victim to the apparent virus that has plagued the locker room, forcing him to miss out on the match. Fans were stunned when it was announced that none other than the Olympic Gold Medallist, WWE Hall of Famer, and Raw General Manager Kurt Angle would step in to replace Reigns by partnering Rollins and Ambrose.
As amazing as it was to see Angle compete in a WWE ring again for the first time in 11 years, it’s still a kick in the teeth that the highly anticipated Shield reunion was put on hold. It was essentially what the entirety of TLC was based around. We will see the Hounds of Justice team up again soon, however. The Shield are advertised for upcoming Raw episodes and live events for the rest of the year with the apparent plan being to keep them together heading into the build up to WrestleMania season.
So, the question must be raised, why has the WWE decided now is the time to reunite The Shield? Here are a few of the potential reasons this decision has been made.
Effort to boost ticket sales
It’s no secret that WWE are struggling to sell tickets these days. It’s not a drastic problem, but it has been very apparent looking at the online pictures of the crowds at recent episodes of Raw and SmackDown, and live events. This has also been the case with their pay-per-view specials. No Mercy failed to sell out, despite the huge double main event of Reigns v John Cena and Brock Lesnar v Strowman. Due to the network era, pay-per-view numbers are out-dated. Before the WWE Network, if a pay-per-view had a poor buy rate, an effort would be made to change things and put out better stories and content to get the audience hooked back in again. This seems to no longer be the case and if the product is stagnant and of little intrigue, then the urge to purchase a ticket just won’t be there for some fans.
The last few pay-per-views have been okay, but they haven’t exactly knocked it out of the park. Based on this it may be understandable that there would be little real buzz for the next big event. With no Lesnar and his Universal Championship, and no Cena, TLC needed a massive shot in the arm if they wanted to get audience members through the gates. Step forward The Shield. One of the most over acts in the company, The Shield are a proven draw from their first run as a tandem. They are perhaps the most successful stable WWE has had, and all three members have gone on to have successful singles careers. Not only was the reformation necessary to generate as much interest as possible for TLC, The Shield is Raw’s best shot at getting bums on seats for the coming months as we approach a pivotal period in the wrestling calendar.
To get Roman over
Like it or not, Reigns will face and dethrone Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 34 next year. You just have to take that pill and swallow it as bitter as it may be to you. It has always been the plan; they wanted to do it at WrestleMania 31 but backpedaled due to fear of the negative response it was inevitability going to receive. Seemingly, the company no longer cares if he is booed or cheered. He is the guy. He’s been one of the top merchandise sellers and has been presented as a top star by management and creative ever since he became a singles star in 2014.
They’ve done everything up this point to get him over. Retiring The Undertaker at WrestleMania 33, going over John Cena at No Mercy, and that’s all just in the last six months. Now he has been put back with the rest of The Shield, one of the most beloved stables in WWE history. This smells like a final last-ditch effort to get the fans all aboard the Roman Reigns train. The Big Dog has never been more popular than during his days as The Shield’s dominant powerhouse. Now, back in the same role, the crowd response towards him has become much less divided, and much more favorable. Despite the acceptance of his polarizing nature by management, it can’t be questioned they would like to keep this wave of positive reactions going so that WrestleMania 34 closes out with The Beast finally being conquered by the heroic Reigns to a thunderous ovation.
The WWE and a huge section of its fan base absolutely love their nostalgia acts. Hall of Famers, retired legends, and former champions never seem to leave the hearts and minds of fans who remember these special performers. That’s why the likes of Mick Foley, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, and others all come back. Mixing these established legacies with the current crop of talent is for the most part exciting, special and memorable. Dream/fantasy matches are proven to deliver successful business. Just look at the Bill Goldberg and Lesnar feud from last year. History can always be turned to in an effort to generate intrigue and attention.
In recent history, there has been no group that has had as big a love affair with the audience than The Shield. This was always an inevitability, no matter how successful Reigns, Rollins, and Ambrose have been and will be, they will always be remembered as members of The Shield. With the old school riot gear, the music, and the entrance through the crowd, we transported back to 2014, the time The Shield were establishing themselves as one of the most cherished factions in the business. We’ve seen The Rock come back plenty of times before. We’ve seen a reformed DX get up to their shenanigans of old several times in the past. But what’s been withheld from us up to this point is The Hounds of Justice on the same page once again. The anticipation has been building ever since they split, and it appears now is the time we are given that taste of nostalgia we have craved for the past three years.
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