In 2014, The Shield gained victories over The Wyatt Family and Evolution in six-man tag matches, as well as a win at WrestleMania XXX. The Shield at different points in their history worked for CM Punk and The Authority while later going on to face their former employers in separate feuds. They wrestled in the main event of numerous Raw and SmackDown television shows and headlined one pay-per-view, the 2014 Payback event, which was their final match as a trio. Rollins left the group on June 2, 2014, when he attacked Ambrose and Reigns with a chair and sided with The Authority. Ambrose and Reigns went on their own ways as singles wrestlers later that month, marking the end of The Shield.
Following the group's dissolution, each member of The Shield has gone on to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, with six world championship reigns between them (Reigns with three, Rollins with two, and Ambrose with one), and all three reigned as champion within a three-minute span at the end of the 2016 Money in the Bank event.
The Shield has from the beginning of their existence voiced their intentions to fight what they perceived as "injustice". They were also known for their black ring attire (including protective vests) with each member having their own style, their tendency to approach the ring through the live audience, and their trademark promos, which were recorded from a first-person perspective using a handheld camcorder. They were a group which possessed excellent teamwork and a willingness to sacrifice themselves as an individual for the good of the team, and which achieved victories by overwhelming opponents with superior numbers after incapacitating their teammates. The Shield referred to WWE as their "yard" during their speeches, and were nicknamed as "The Hounds of Justice".
For their individual characters:
Dean Ambrose – played the "mouthpiece" of the group during their speeches. Ambrose's role was described as being "the more vocal leader of the group", and was then tweaked to become more verbally arrogant in mid-2013. WWE also described Ambrose's character as "slightly off" and "wild".
Roman Reigns – was established by WWE as the "powerhouse" and "heavy hitter" of The Shield, as well as an "exceptional athlete". Reigns was noted as the least talkative of The Shield members. In mid-2013, Reigns' character was described as being tweaked to become extremely confident and a source of leadership with "quiet strength".
Seth Rollins – was described as having a "chaotic" in-ring style. In mid-2013, he was described as "the out-spoken, hot-head who will do crazy things" to help The Shield. In 2014, Rollins gained the labels of "The Aerialist" and "The Architect" of The Shield. While out of character, Rollins explained "The Architect" moniker as that he had a "cerebral approach" in coming "up with the blueprints" for their wrestling matches or storylines.
While out of character, the group credited WWE trainer and producer Joey Mercury as a mentor.
On the January 2, 2013 episode of NXT, which was taped on December 6, 2012, The Shield made their first appearance in NXT, though Rollins and Reigns had already wrestled there before and Rollins was the inaugural NXT Champion. Rollins defended his title against Corey Graves and, as Graves was about to win the match, Ambrose and Reigns attacked him to cause a disqualification so that Rollins retained his title; The Shield then fended off the entire NXT locker room, but retreated from Big E Langston. On the January 9 episode of NXT, which was taped on the same date as the previous episode, Rollins faced Langston in a no disqualification title match in which the NXT locker room neutralized the other Shield members and Langston defeated Rollins to win the title.
On the January 7 episode of Raw, The Shield once again aided CM Punk by attacking Ryback during his Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for the WWE Championship, which resulted in Punk retaining his title. On January 21, during the last Raw before the Royal Rumble, The Shield triple-powerbombed The Rock, Punk's WWE Championship contender at the event, resulting in Mr. McMahon declaring that their interference in the title match would result in Punk being stripped of the title. Four days later on SmackDown, Punk denied an alliance with The Shield before calling them out and informing them that he did not want them to interfere in his upcoming title match. However, during Punk's title match at the Royal Rumble, a blackout occurred and The Rock was attacked by The Shield in the darkness; when the lights came back on, The Rock had been put through the announce table leading to Punk pinning The Rock and retaining his title, only for the match to be immediately restarted by McMahon with The Rock winning the WWE Championship. The following night on Raw, it was revealed through footage played by McMahon that Punk's manager Paul Heyman had been paying The Shield and Brad Maddox to work for him all along.
The Shield addresses the crowd during Raw in February 2013
On the January 28 episode of Raw, The Shield also attacked John Cena; Sheamus and Ryback were also beaten down when they attempted to save Cena. The next week on Raw, while calling out The Shield, Maddox revealed that he was the one who had given McMahon the footage showing that they were working for Heyman, thus prompting The Shield to attack Maddox, but they were forced to retreat due to an attack by Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus. The Shield justified their attacks due to a "decade of injustice" caused by Cena creating an environment where any wrestler would not face consequences for his actions and whose mentality they felt had spread to other wrestlers like Ryback and Sheamus. This set up a six-man tag team match on February 17 at Elimination Chamber, which The Shield won. The Shield had their first Raw match the following night, when they defeated the team of Ryback, Sheamus, and Chris Jericho.
Sheamus then formed an alliance with Randy Orton to battle The Shield and, on the March 1 episode of SmackDown, while attacking Orton during his match with Big Show, The Shield inadvertently provoked Show into attacking them; The Shield thus started a feud with Show as well, and on the March 11 episode of Raw, The Shield's first singles match occurred when Rollins faced Show, who won via disqualification as Ambrose and Reigns interfered and beat him down. Despite twice helping Orton and Sheamus to fend off The Shield, Show on both occasions turned on the duo immediately afterwards. The Shield then challenged Orton and Sheamus to find a partner and have a match with them at WrestleMania 29; Show volunteered, but Orton and Sheamus chose Ryback as their partner. Meanwhile, Mark Henry's distraction of Ryback resulted in The Shield conducting a successful assault on Ryback, resulting in Ryback being inserted into a WrestleMania match against Henry. Without a partner, Orton and Sheamus eventually accepted Show's offer to take on a common enemy despite their mistrust of him. On April 7 at WrestleMania 29, The Shield took advantage of their opponents' inability to work together to win in their WrestleMania debut.
The following night on the April 8 episode of Raw, The Shield attempted to attack The Undertaker, but were ultimately forced to retreat by Team Hell No. This led The Shield to face the combination of The Brothers of Destruction and Team Hell No (Undertaker, Kane and Bryan), which The Shield defeated on the April 22 episode of Raw,. On the April 26 episode of SmackDown, Ambrose made his singles debut against The Undertaker, but lost via submission; after the match, The Shield attacked Undertaker and triple-powerbombed him through the announce table. On the April 29 episode of Raw, The Shield defeated Team Hell No and WWE Champion John Cena in a six-man tag team match with Reigns pinning Cena for the win. Ambrose then started a feud with United States ChampionKofi Kingston after pinning him in a six-man tag team match also involving The Usos. On the May 13 episode of Raw, The Shield's undefeated streak in televised six-man tag team matches ended in a disqualification loss in an elimination match against Cena, Kane, and Bryan; with Kane and Bryan eliminated, Cena pinned Rollins and then Reigns was disqualified, with Ambrose also being disqualified when Reigns and Rollins attacked Cena.
On May 19, 2013 at Extreme Rules, Ambrose defeated Kofi Kingston to win the United States Championship, and later that same night, Rollins and Reigns defeated Team Hell No to also win the WWE Tag Team Championship. Ambrose faced Kingston on the May 24 episode of SmackDown in a rematch for the title and retained when Rollins and Reigns interfered, thus causing a disqualification. Ambrose defeated Kingston in another rematch for the title on the May 27 episode of Raw and Rollins and Reigns retained the WWE Tag Team Championship in a rematch against Team Hell No. On the June 14 episode of SmackDown, The Shield's unpinned/unsubmitted streak in televised six-man tag team matches came to an end at the hands of Team Hell No and Randy Orton, when Daniel Bryan submitted Rollins. On June 16 at Payback, Ambrose defeated Kane via countout to retain the United States Championship while Rollins and Reigns successful defended their WWE Tag Team Championship by defeating Bryan and Orton. The following night on Raw, Ambrose had a title rematch against Kane, and once again retained after Rollins and Reigns interfered and Ambrose was disqualified.
The following night on the August 19 episode of Raw, The Shield began working for chief operating officerTriple H, and they would aid WWE Champion and "the face of WWE" Randy Orton against his number one contender Daniel Bryan, while also attacking wrestlers like Big Show and Dolph Ziggler for speaking out against Triple H's regime. At Night of Champions, The Shield enjoyed successful title defenses when Ambrose defeated Ziggler while Rollins and Reigns defeated The Prime Time Players. At Battleground, after being kayfabe fired, Cody RhodesandGoldust earned their jobs back by beating Rollins and Reigns in a non-title match. On the September 23 episode of Raw, The Shield lost an eleven-on-three handicapelimination match during which every member was pinned, this being Reigns' first; The Usos, Ziggler, and Bryan contributed to the pins. On the October 14 episode of Raw, Rollins and Reigns faced the Rhodes brothers again in a no disqualification match; The Shield lost the WWE Tag Team Championship to Rhodes and Goldust after Big Show attacked them during the match. On the October 16 episode of Main Event, Ambrose successfully retained his title against Ziggler. At Hell in a Cell, Rollins and Reigns lost a triple threattag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship against the Rhodes Brothers and The Usos, while Ambrose retained his championship despite a countout loss to Big E Langston.
The first seeds of dissension were sown in The Shield (especially between Ambrose and Reigns) with Ambrose's boasting of being the only member left with a championship, but from then on, Ambrose was frequently pinned during The Shield's matches. At Survivor Series, The Shield teamed with The Real Americans (Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro) to defeat the team of Rey Mysterio, the Rhodes Brothers, and The Usos in a Survivor Series elimination tag team match; Ambrose was the first man eliminated, Rollins (with one elimination) was the fourth man eliminated for his team, and Reigns was the sole survivor after eliminating four opponents.
In late November, CM Punk's criticism of Triple H earned him an attack by The Shield, but Punk tasted revenge at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs when he overcame The Shield in a handicap match, capitalizing on The Shield's lack of co-ordination after Ambrose received a spear from Reigns aimed for Punk, thus making him the only person to beat The Shield in a handicap match. Punk documented in an out-of-character interview a year later on how he was constantly reminded to make Reigns look "really, really strong" in the match at TLC to the point that Punk requested to lose the match, which was rejected.
On the December 30 episode of Raw, Rollins faced Punk in a losing effort. Going into 2014, Punk's taunts increased tension between The Shield members, and Reigns emerged as the only Shield member to defeat Punk in a singles match, albeit with Ambrose's interference. All three members of The Shield competed in the 2014 Royal Rumble match; late in the match, Ambrose tried to eliminate Reigns, who retaliated by eliminating both Ambrose and Rollins. Reigns eventually finished as runner-up in the match while setting a new record for most eliminations in a single Royal Rumble match with 12; Ambrose and Rollins scored three eliminations each, and Rollins spent the second longest amount of time in the match.
On the January 27 episode of Raw, The Shield faced the team of Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, and John Cena in a six-man tag-team match in which the winning team would enter the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but The Shield were denied that opportunity when The Wyatt Family attacked their opponents, causing The Shield to lose via disqualification. The Shield vowed revenge, so a match was set up between The Shield and The Wyatt Family at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. With both The Shield and The Wyatt Family being heel (villainous) teams, WWE positioned The Shield as the team the audience should root for on the February 10 episode of Raw, when The Shield was willing to engage in a confrontation while The Wyatt Family backed down. Meanwhile, also on the February 10 episode of Raw, Ambrose's open challenge for his title was answered by Mark Henry, with Ambrose retaining via disqualification due to The Shield's interference, and Reigns continued his tension with Ambrose by defeating Henry without interference. At the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, The Shield lost to The Wyatt Family, and during the match, Ambrose and Bray Wyatt brawled into the crowd and Wyatt later returned to the ring with no sign of Ambrose, which caused Rollins and Reigns to be outnumbered and overwhelmed. On the March 3 episode of Raw, The Shield lost a rematch against The Wyatt Family when The Shield's poor teamwork led to Rollins walking out during the match; Rollins claimed that he had enough of being the glue holding the group together.
Rebellion against The Authority
The Shield wore half-masks during an entrance in April 2014
On the March 7 episode of SmackDown, the members of The Shield met in the ring to clear the air on their disharmony, and Rollins said that his actions achieved his purpose of getting Ambrose and Reigns to finally see eye-to-eye; after Ambrose and Rollins hit each other, the trio reconciled.
The Shield's next feud was against Kane, who was now acting as the Director of Operations for The Authority and had ordered The Shield to attack commentator Jerry Lawler on the March 17 episode of Raw, but The Shield attacked Kane instead, thus turning all of them into faces (heroic characters). In retaliation, Kane and The New Age Outlaws attacked The Shield on the March 21 episode of SmackDown while the group was already being double-teamed by Rybaxel (Ryback and Curtis Axel) and The Real Americans after an inconclusive fatal four-way tag team match match meant to determine the contenders for the WWE Tag Team Championship. The Shield got their revenge when they cost Rybaxel their match the following Raw and attacked them before defeating The Real Americans on the same night. Afterwards, Kane and the New Age Outlaws challenged them to a match at WrestleMania XXX, which The Shield won quickly and decisively.
The following night on the post-WrestleMania episode of Raw, Kane inadvertently revealed that Triple H had masterminded the attack on The Shield on the previous month's SmackDown, and as a result, when Triple H faced the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan in a title match after Bryan had already been attacked by Kane, Randy Orton, and Batista, The Shield interrupted the match to turn on Triple H, chasing the other wrestlers away to protect Bryan. The Shield finally defeated The Wyatt Family in a six-man tag match on the April 8 episode of Main Event. On the April 14 episode of Raw, Triple H forced The Shield to wrestle an 11-on-3 handicap match, which ended in a no contest and left The Shield outnumbered and beaten down, before being further attacked by Triple H, Orton, and Batista, who reformed the group Evolution. Due to wrestle another 11-on-3 handicap match on the April 25 episode of SmackDown, The Shield attacked and took out six of their opponents throughout SmackDown and defeated the remaining five in the handicap match. On the May 2 episode of SmackDown, Ambrose retained his United States Championship in a fatal four-way match against Alberto Del Rio, Curtis Axel, and Ryback.
At the Extreme Rules pay-per-view, The Shield defeated Evolution. The next night on Raw, Ambrose was forced to defend his title in a 20-man battle royal with Rollins and Reigns not part of the match (they were outside the ring all through the match but were not allowed to interfere); Ambrose survived until the final two, but lost to Sheamus, ending Ambrose's record reign (under the WWE banner) with the United States Championship at 351 days. A rematch between The Shield and Evolution was arranged for Payback, with a stipulation of being No Holds Barred and an elimination match, in which The Shield prevailed again over Evolution with no Shield member being eliminated.
Rollins' betrayal and separation
Following his split from The Shield, Seth Rollins (left) is confronted by his former teammates
On the June 2 episode of Raw following Payback, Triple H announced his intention to continue Evolution's feud with The Shield, but Batista quit WWE for a second time, officially ending Evolution's feud with The Shield. Later that night, with The Shield in the ring, Triple H's "plan B" for destroying The Shield turned out to be Rollins suddenly attacking Ambrose and Reigns with a steel chair, signalling Rollins' official departure from the group and re-alignment with The Authority while also turning heel in the process. On the June 9 episode of Raw, Rollins described his betrayal as severing a business relationship and that he had destroyed "his own creation" to further his own interests, while Ambrose and Reigns (still labelled as The Shield) addressed Rollins' betrayal, with the former describing Rollins as a "cancer" in The Shield, while the latter said Rollins "committed the most unforgivable sin". Later that night, Ambrose and Reigns had what would be their final match as The Shield, teaming up with John Cena to defeat The Wyatt Family.
While Ambrose and Reigns did not fall out with each other, they did begin to take separate paths, as Ambrose declared his intentions to take revenge on Rollins while Reigns set his sights on the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. While the duo were still referred to as The Shield on the June 13 episode of SmackDown, later on the June 16 episode of Raw, Ambrose debuted new theme music while no longer wearing The Shield's attire and entering the ring through the traditional entrance, while Reigns largely retained The Shield's ring attire and theme music, as well as continuing to enter the ring through the live audience; this indicated that Ambrose and Reigns were now working on their own and that The Shield had quietly disbanded. On the June 24 episode of Main Event, Reigns confirmed that he was on his own and no longer with The Shield, thus confirming that The Shield had dissolved.
For the remainder of 2014, Ambrose and Rollins feuded with each other due to Rollins' betrayal and alliance with the Authority, whereas Reigns was quickly inserted into world title contention. Ambrose and Rollins' prolonged feud won Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Feud of the Year award for 2014. At the end of the year, Pro Wrestling Torch writer Shawn Valentino labelled The Shield as a "three-headed dragon" and the seventh top WWE story of the year and he wrote that The Shield "was one of the coolest acts in wrestling in recent years, and most fans believed they were broken up prematurely", adding that "each member of The Shield has made their mark, and they all look like they will be big stars in the future".
All three former Shield members main-evented a WWE pay-per-view event as a singles competitor within four months of the group's dissolution. In addition, Rollins won the 2014 Money in the Bank ladder match and subsequently cashed in his contract to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion during the main event of WrestleMania 31, while Reigns won the 2015 Royal Rumble match and competed for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the same main event of Rollins' cash in.
Of the three, Ambrose has held the most of WWE's four eligible singles competition titles: the WWE World Heavyweight, Intercontinental, and United States titles; Rollins and Reigns have only held the WWE and United States titles
Despite no longer formally operating as a team, Ambrose and Reigns continued to infrequently work together and maintained an on-screen friendship following The Shield's split. On the January 9, 2015 episode of SmackDown, Reigns was about to be put into a handicap match against Rollins and Big Show, until Ambrose came to the aid of Reigns and helped defeat them; the two continuously helped each other against The Authority thereafter. On the May 4 episode of Raw, Ambrose defeated Rollins, and as per pre-stipulation by the Director of Operations Kane, Ambrose gained his first opportunity for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, being added to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Payback and making it a fatal four-way match, also including Reigns and Randy Orton, with the latter being pinned by Rollins. During the match, Ambrose, Reigns and Rollins briefly worked together to perform their signature triple powerbomb on Orton. Ambrose later faced Rollins at Elimination Chamber and, after multiple interference by The Authority on Rollins' behalf, Reigns involved himself to help Ambrose, who won by disqualification after Rollins pushed the referee in Ambrose's way as he tried to catch Rollins with his signature diving elbow drop (on a standing opponent). Despite the win, Ambrose did not gain the championship; however, he still took the championship belt with him and challenged Rollins in a ladder match at Money in the Bank, which he would go on to lose.
Reigns holds the most WWE World Heavyweight Championship reigns amongst the other members at three reigns
After Rollins suffered legit multiple knee injuries (he tore the ACL, MCL, and medial meniscus in his knee while attempting to execute a sunset flip powerbomb) at a live event in Dublin, Ireland on November 4, a tournament was set up to crown a new champion. The tournament began on the November 9 episode of Raw, involving 16 wrestlers, with the final match scheduled for Survivor Series to determine the new champion and, since Reigns was the number one contender after winning a fatal four-way match on the October 26 episode of Raw, Triple H tried to persuade Reigns into joining The Authority and by doing so, Reigns would have automatically been placed in the championship match; he refused, requiring him to compete in the tournament. On the November 16 episode of Raw, Reigns, Ambrose, Kevin Owens and Alberto Del Rio advanced to the semifinals, setting up Reigns vs. Del Rio and Owens vs. Ambrose in the semifinals at the event. At Survivor Series, Reigns and Ambrose won their respective matches and went on to face each other in the main event, in which Reigns defeated Ambrose to win the vacant title, only to lose it five minutes later to Sheamus, who cashed in his Money in the Bank contract.
Nearing the end of 2015, Ambrose won the Intercontinental Championship for the first time, after defeating Kevin Owens at the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view on December 13, and Reigns regained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship after defeating Sheamus on Raw the night after. Reigns lost the WWE World Heavyweight Championship to the returning Triple H after being eliminated at the Royal Rumble event on January 24, 2016, while Ambrose also competed in the Royal Rumble match and was the runner-up, being eliminated last by Triple H. At the Fastlane pay-per-view event, Ambrose and Reigns faced each other in a triple threat match also involving Brock Lesnar to face Triple H at WrestleMania 32 for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, when it looked like Ambrose was going to win, Reigns hit a spear and came out victorious. Reigns defeated Triple H at the event to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion for a third time.
After Reigns successfully defended the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against AJ Styles at Extreme Rules, Seth Rollins returned from injury and attacked Reigns, immediately setting his sights on the title he never lost. All three members of The Shield briefly reunited on the June 13 episode of Raw when Ambrose hosted his Ambrose Asylum segment with Rollins and Reigns as guests in a lead up to their respective matches at Money in the Bank; Ambrose in the Money in the Bank ladder match, Reigns and Rollins in the main event for the championship. At the event, Ambrose won the Money in the Bank ladder match and Rollins would go on to regain the title in the main event, only to lose the title to Ambrose after he successfully cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase, thus all of the former Shield members were world champion on the same night. As a result of the 2016 WWE draft on July 19, Ambrose was drafted to SmackDown while Rollins and Reigns were drafted to Raw, thus ending any possibility of a reunion. All three members of The Shield competed in a triple threat match for the renamed WWE Championship at Battleground on July 24, in which Ambrose came out victorious by pinning Reigns in a clean finish.
^Clapp, John. "The Shield def. Randy Orton, Big Show & Sheamus". WWE. Archived from the original on May 24, 2013. Retrieved May 24, 2013. Before the opening bell, The Shield made their trademark entrance through the WWE Universe, carving a path through the packed MetLife Stadium floor and its thousands of passionate WWE Universe members
^Tello, Craig. "The Shield def. John Cena, Ryback & Sheamus". WWE. Archived from the original on May 24, 2013. Retrieved May 24, 2013. The Shield countered with ruthlessness and their signature "divide and conquer" technique to decimate Sheamus (who was speared through the barricade) and then outnumber their opponents. The sum total of their scheme: Ryback took the crushing final hit and losing pinfall
^Clapp, John. "The Shield def. Randy Orton, Big Show & Sheamus". WWE. Archived from the original on May 24, 2013. Retrieved May 24, 2013. Before the opening bell, The Shield made their trademark entrance through the WWE Universe, carving a path through the packed MetLife Stadium floor and its thousands of passionate WWE Universe members. .. ... he ripped off Ambrose’s black protective vest ... ... With the victory, meanwhile, "The Hounds of Justice" not only extended their impressive streak as a unit...
^Asher, Matthew. "Raw: Bryan's road through Hell continues". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved August 31, 2013. It appears as though The Shield is now Triple H's lackeys as they open tonight's Raw as makeshift bodyguards (Jerry Lawler called them "henchmen") for The Game as he makes his way to the ring.
^Johnson, Mike (May 19, 2013). "Complete WWE Extreme Rules PPV Coverage". PWInsider. Retrieved May 21, 2013. Reigns held him in a Torture Rack. Rollins came off with the flying kneedrop and killed Bryan. The Shield scored the win.