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The Shield’s Demise: Ten Years after Plan B

Ten years ago, the most dominant trio in WWE history was split up. Seth Rollins would turn his back on Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose to break up The Shield and change the landscape, of not only WWE but, professional wrestling forever.

From 2012 to 2014, Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose would run roughshod through the WWE roster. Their split came too early in the eyes of some, which made the moment that much better. Nobody expected it because they were one of the hottest commodities in all of wrestling. After eliminating all three members of Evolution in a 3-0 sweep the night before, Triple H convinced Seth Rollins to turn heel on his Shield brethren and thus launch these men into their own individual careers.

When this did happen, everyone knew all three would have success post-Shield. I’m not sure anyone knew exactly how much they would contribute to the business. To the point, nobody could likely argue who has had the most or least amount of impact on the business.


Rollins was immediately given the heel responsibilities after he broke up The Shield. He would be inserted into The Authority and within a year, he wins Money in the Bank and cashes in at WrestleMania 31 to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, the first holder to get his title opportunity at WrestleMania. Without The Shield splitting, we never get “The Heist of the Century.”

Rollins would never lose that championship but relinquished the championship in November 2015 with a torn ACL. But he would go on to become a 5-time world champion, 2-time Intercontinental Champion, 2-time United States Champion, and a 6-time tag team champion.

He went from being “The Architect” to being the “Monday Night Messiah,” “The Visionary” and “The Revolutionary.” He would have legendary feuds against Edge, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, Drew McIntyre, and so many more.

His impact was never more felt than what he did the previous year, as the company brought the World Heavyweight Championship back and Seth Rollins was the inaugural World Heavyweight Champion for 316 days. Rollins, an instrumental part of the WrestleMania 40 program involved in the Night 1 main event, the Night 2 opener, and playing a significant role in the Night 2 main event, he was the unsung hero of the greatest WrestleMania of all-time.

Without Rollins, the entire landscape of WWE looks different.


Notice Dean Ambrose has another moniker. “The Lunatic Fringe” would expand The Shield’s ripple effect to be a foundational piece to a startup of a new wrestling company, All Elite Wrestling.

Before jumping ship, Ambrose had a good run in WWE. For the 4 years after The Shield’s split, Ambrose was also Money in the Bank and ironically became WWE Champion after cashing in on Seth Rollins, right after Rollins beat Roman Reigns. While Ambrose was champion, WWE reintroduced the brand split in 2016 and SmackDown moved to Tuesdays to be LIVE for the first time in show history. Ambrose would be the face of the blue brand for this transition.

After significant feuds against Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, AJ Styles, among others, Ambrose would grow frustrated with the direction of the company and allowed his contract to expire in the early stages of 2019. We didn’t know what Ambrose would do, until a rebranded Jon Moxley marched through the crowd and laid out Kenny Omega at AEW’s inaugural Double or Nothing.

From there, Jon Moxley would be the second world champion in AEW’s history, and the only person to hold the championship 3 times as of this writing. Moxley would assist AEW through its infant years, the pandemic, the CM Punk injury, and the backstage drama. Moxley has grown into a locker room leader and has since become sober since arriving in AEW.

Moxley hasn’t only affected AEW but has the liberties to compete elsewhere like GCW and New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Moxley is the current reigning IWGP World Heavyweight Champion and has introduced the entire globe to good deathmatch wrestling, enough that the running joke is you haven’t seen a Jon Moxley match if he isn’t bleeding.

Back when The Shield was dominating, nobody imagined either of the members departing WWE. For Moxley to do so and have the success he has, it shows you their impact would become global and truly take over the industry.


While Moxley went out to prove himself elsewhere, one man stayed in-house and may be considered the Greatest of All Time now.

Reigns was pushed as the next John Cena after The Shield’s split. After getting booed at Royal Rumble 2015, it was clear the fans weren’t sold on Roman Reigns in his babyface role. Nonetheless, up until the pandemic, Reigns was pushed as this John Cena wannabe and fans weren’t interested. Reigns would still main-event WrestleMania events, have an endless feud with Brock Lesnar, and defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania.

Roman Reigns would take time away from WWE after receiving a real-life diagnosis of leukemia. This is why when the pandemic hit in 2020, Reigns went away and nearly retired due to health issues. However, he came back in August 2020 with a new attitude that changed the entire business.

Roman Reigns would come back to claim the “Head of the Table” and become the “Tribal Chief” as he would become the longest modern-day world champion. Reigns won the WWE Universal Championship and held the title for 1,316 days, up until this year’s WrestleMania. Reigns would put WWE programming on his back with The Bloodline, making main event talent out of his family. Reigns now has the record for the most WrestleMania main events in history.

As I mentioned, fans should have expected The Shield to be big-time players for years to come after their split ten years ago. But I don’t know if anyone expected them to change the entire industry in the way they have. Even fewer would have predicted the long-term storytelling from this past year’s WrestleMania regarding Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns.

After Seth Rollins had tried for years to take down Roman Reigns and his historic reign as champion, Rollins would interfere at WrestleMania 40 in Roman’s match against Cody Rhodes, dressed in his Shield attire. Giving Roman a second chance at revenge, Roman took the revenge and stabbed Seth Rollins in the back with the chair, costing Reigns the championship in the biggest moment of his career.

The Shield, to this day, has its fingerprints… no, its handprints on the business we love today.



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