One year later, The Shield’s WWE debut still resonates in the WWE Universe
The fate of the WWE Championship hung in the balance.
That was the moment when The Shield decided to strike at Survivor Series 2012. The threesome did not issue any cryptic statements teasing their presence at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, or seek out a veteran mentor to direct their path into WWE. They emerged with no fanfare; in fact, it took 16-year WWE announcer Michael Cole several minutes to merely identify the invaders.
Yet that trio — Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns — chose to make their WWE debut when the spotlight shone the brightest: during a highly-anticipated WWE Championship Triple Threat Match at a marquee pay-per-view. They stepped forward just as Ryback, another newcomer, left fellow challenger John Cena feeling Shell Shocked while WWE Champion CM Punk lay prone on the ring apron. A pinfall felt like a formality at that point, as did the announcement of Ryback as the new WWE Champion.
Too bad Ryback didn’t see The Shield coming. In fact, nobody did. Save for their collective FCW and NXT accomplishments and the occasional “Dean Ambrose debut imminent” prediction on squared circle internet forums, no one even had reason to suspect Ambrose, Rollins & Reigns would make waves in WWE before the end of 2012.
They would learn quickly. Everyone did.
The Hounds of Justice swarmed in together from the south end of the ring, racing to ravage the one Superstar still standing. They pummeled Ryback with as many strikes as they could muster, then dragged the freshman brute to the ringside floor.
With no one around to halt their invasion, the ring raiders picked up Ryback and put him through the announce table with a savage triple powerbomb. Cole, along with JBL, Jerry Lawler and the horrified WWE fans in attendance, could do nothing but watch the carnage play out.
More three-man powerbombs followed in the weeks and months to come, as did the rationale for what makes The Hounds of Justice tick. They found other ways to influence the WWE Title picture and later clinched championship gold of their own, all the while justifying their tactics as the only way to purge WWE of its ills.
If any doubters questioned their capabilities, The Hounds of Justice needed only point to the impact they had in Indianapolis on that November night. CM Punk’s WWE Title reign evolved from impressive to historic as it lasted for 434 days, the longest run in the last quarter-century. John Cena missed his chance to return to the top in WWE and had to trudge uphill to WrestleMania 29 to find redemption. Ryback discovered a predatory instinct that mutated him into one of the most destructive forces to ever set foot in a ring.
Did The Shield bring justice during their first year in WWE? Do the ends justify the controversial and often vicious means used by Ambrose, Rollins & Reigns since their first attack? Will The Hounds of Justice restore balance in their sophomore year, or ramp up the destructive efforts against all who question them?
The future of the WWE Universe hangs in the balance.