One of the WWE’s most underleveraged storytelling devices is the whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” idea. We’ve all been playing a video game, reading a book or even watching a wrestling match when, all of a sudden, a character we hadn’t seen for some story-related reason shows up out of the blue and generates a ton of excitement.
One only needs to look back at the most recent edition of Monday Night Raw for two prime examples. Nia Jax and Samoa Joe both made unexpected surprise returns, and they received big pops in the process. Seriously, when is the last time Jax got a pop like the one Baltimore gave her?
Roman Reigns has been a staple of WWE television since The Shield first debuted at Survivor Series in 2012. So much so that he gets booed by half the live audience every time he walks to the ring because everyone knows he’s Vince McMahon’s handpicked successor to John Cena.
Despite creative going to insane lengths to get Reigns over, he still draws one of the most divisive reactions in sports entertainment. The WWE feels any response is a good one, so they’ve continued to push Reigns and build him up, no matter who they have to use to do so.
One could even argue that The Shield was reformed simply as a device to get Reigns cheered in a way that he would never have been cheered had he stayed solo. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins are two of the most beloved workers in the business, and they generally receive warm responses wherever they go.
Which is diametrically opposed to how Reigns is generally received.
Maybe all that he’s needed this whole time was to take a few weeks off for reasons that aren’t related to getting suspended. The Shield was supposed to make their triumphant return during the recent TLC network special, but those plans were derailed by a real-life viral infection that had hit the locker room days before.
Kurt Angle did his best to fill in, but you know what? It didn’t feel right.
We’ve seen plenty of Ambrose and Rollins working as a tag team, so that wasn’t odd. But this was supposed to be The Shield. Arguably the coolest faction WWE has managed to whip up during the PG Era. And without the muscle — without Roman Reigns — something just felt off.
To wit: watching The Shield go to work without Reigns has given fans an opportunity to miss what he brings to the table on a nightly basis. We’re not having him shoved down our throats in multiple appearances a night. Instead, we’re forced to watch Kane and the Bar beat on Rollins and Ambrose post-match because they don’t have any backup.
Can you imagine the response Reigns would have received had he run to the ring to save his compatriots on Monday night? Word is that he’s still not medically cleared, but it sounds like the WWE is planning on getting Reigns back into the thick of things on Nov. 13. Or the Monday before Survivor Series.
If done right, it could create the most positive reaction Reigns has received in quite some time. You can’t miss someone if they aren’t ever gone, and this is a rare opportunity to take in The Shield sans their Big Dog. Love him or hate him, you have to admit that the group doesn’t feel the same without Reigns walking down through the crowd alongside Rollins and Ambrose.