The Hounds of Justice are back. After weeks of speculation and months of needing to find a way to garner cheers for Roman Reigns, wrestling fans and their favorite three-headed monster have reunited.
If you’re new to the program, meet your players: Dean Ambrose, the Lunatic Fringe; Seth Rollins, the Architect; and Roman Reigns, the Big Dog. They have been here before. While they have all gone on to successful singles careers which include WWE Championship runs, before any of that they were The Shield, vest-wearing vigilantes who entered through the crowd and circled the ring like wild hunting dogs.
Since they’ll be headlining TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs in less than a week, let’s take a look back at some of the moments that have defined the career of The Shield. We could rank them by crowd reaction, or shock value, or match quality, but we’ll leave that to you; we’ll simply supply the trip down memory lane.
The Shield debuts – Part One
It all began with a Triple Powerbomb of Ryback through the announce table. When they first took center stage at Survivor Series 2012, there seemed the chance they would become the henchmen of WWE Champion CM Punk. Thankfully, that idea never materialized. For that night, they were three relative unknowns to most in attendance, who debuted during a PPV main event.
Punk retained his belt that night by pinning John Cena, while all the talk centered around the new group that seemed to have no allegiance.
Shield comes up all gold
Six months after their arrival, The Shield came up gold at Extreme Rules 2013. Ambrose took the United States Title from Kofi Kingston, while Rollins and Reigns knocked off Kane and Daniel Bryan for the Tag Team Titles, all on the same night.
Since six-man tag belts have failed to find their way into the WWE title scene, this was the quickest way to establish that The Shield wasn’t only a hit-and-run bonanza. Ambrose would become the longest-reigning U.S. Champion in history (351 days), as Rollins and Reigns developed a rapport that made them one of the premier tag teams in the sport.
Shield meets the Wyatt Family for the first time
It goes underappreciated in the wrestling pantheon just how high the anticipation was for this showdown at the time. The crowd reaction should give you a hint of the fervor surrounding the possibility of this feud. If you remember, both teams were on a collision course as the alpha males of WWE, eviscerating everything in their path leading to this clash of the titans.
The two had their huge match at Elimination Chamber 2014, which certainly helped that card, but made virtually no sense when The Shield was relegated to a six-man tag match against The New Age Outlaws and Kane at WrestleMania XXX.
Pair of six-man tag matches vs. Evolution at Extreme Rules and Payback 2014
It was their final feud, but in terms of match quality and goose-bump-inducing nostalgia, it may have been their finest.
As a true test of the magnitude of the rivalry, it was able to carry the product for months on end, first beginning with an Extreme Rules Match at Extreme Rules, which seemed like the only encounter the two teams would have after The Shield came out victorious.
But as a means of establishing dominance, the two teams did it all over again at Payback, main eventing the show with an elimination match in which The Shield cleanly swept one of the company’s all-time great stables. They had reached their pinnacle as the top dogs of WWE; it was their yard. It would also be their final moment atop the mountain.
Seth severs ties
It’s an all-time historic wrestling moment, even if it did mark the end of what some believe to be the promotion’s greatest faction.
When Rollins took a steel chair to the back of Reigns, sending him flying into the ropes, followed by nailing Ambrose in the midsection with another shot, he established himself as the Undisputed Future of the company. Triple H alluded to him being his “Plan B,” but it has seemed that ever since that moment, having the three Shield members all carry the company into the future has been the Plan A.
Much as the current common goals cannot last a lifetime, this Shield had accomplished all it had wanted; there was nowhere else to go but down this road.
In their absence, the Wyatts tried to fill the void before ultimately succumbing. The New Day has established a dominant trio that has run the tag division, but not yet branched into the singles or main event realm; the best chance for a usurper to the baseline created by The Shield comes in the current stable of the Undisputed Era down at NXT, with even that being an ambitious undertaking.
A brief reunion
The seeds were planted for the current Shield reunion last November, at the event The Shield first debuted at, Survivor Series. While Rollins and Reigns were on the same side of the fight on Raw during the battle of the brands 5-vs-5 elimination match, former brother-in-arms Dean Ambrose was fighting for the blue brand.
Ambrose took a break from his feud with then-WWE Champion A.J. Styles to take the same side for one night. That partnership wouldn’t last, but Ambrose found a pair of old friends to help him put Styles through the announce table with a familiar looking move.
Shield reunites with destruction of Braun Strowman
While Rollins and Ambrose carried the Raw Tag Team Titles, it was time for Reigns to return to the side of his former brethren. The trio has a beef with The Miz (and the Miztourage), but also Cesaro and Sheamus. Add Braun Strowman to that dynamic, and The Shield reuniting to take down the whole evil army of Raw becomes a near necessity.
For months, Reigns battled Strowman to the jeers of the WWE Universe; suddenly, with one Ambrose and Rollins aiding Spear, the live crowd went nuts. There’s no denying the appeal a reunited Shield has — not only for t-shirt sales, but for crossover and nostalgia appeal. Admit it, you’re more likely to tell your friends about wrestling (or even tune in if you’re a part-time viewer) when the Hounds of Justice have their yard back.