The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family: Tale of the Tape
It was always going to come down to this. Ever since The Wyatt Family first blacked out the lights and brought the steel steps down on Kane’s head, the question was not if, but when, they would run afoul of WWE’s resident three-man hit squad, The Shield. A few tense encounters in the fall teased some bad blood between the sides, and after The Wyatts cost The Hounds of Justice a chance to challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship — collateral damage in an apparent attempt to target John Cena — The Hounds called them out and got their match.
In other words, WWE Universe, it’s finally going to happen. And with the epic clash only a couple of weeks away, it’s time to start handicapping the two factions involved. Put aside The Hounds’ general tension right now: On an even keel, on their best days, here’s how The Shield and The Wyatt Family match up.
Prepare for war.
We know who the ringleader is for The Wyatts, at least. Though, all things considered, it’s probably an understatement to call the sinister paterfamilias of The Wyatt Family their “leader.” Bray Wyatt isn’t so much a commander for his family as “The Word Itself.” He’s been likened to a king, among other things, and Erick Rowan & Luke Harper quite literally march to the beck and call of The Eater of Worlds.
Ambrose, on the other hand, has been The Shield’s de facto mouthpiece since their debut a year-and-a-half ago, handling the lion’s share of their shadowy, Steadicam addresses to the WWE Universe. He’s also the only member of the trio to still hold a championship, clutching his U.S. Title long after Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns lost their WWE Tag Team Titles to Cody Rhodes & Goldust. It’s Ambrose who has always set the tone for The Hounds of Justice, though the surging visibility of Roman Reigns does throw a bit of question as to how much Ambrose, the self-dubbed “Baddest Man in The Shield,” really calls the shots.
ADVANTAGE: BRAY WYATT
Legend has it that Erick Rowan’s sheep mask represents the calm before he competes; a way to force himself into civility before he unleashes the wolf within. And make no mistake, there’s certainly something inhuman lurking within this jump-suited giant. His moveset is admittedly basic, but if there’s one thing Rowan has shown it’s that he doesn’t need an Indian Deathlock to maximize his efficiency in the ring. He fights like a bear whose lunch you just stole, and unlike anyone else in this match, there’s only one man — Bray himself — who can talk him down.
The legend of Roman Reigns, meanwhile, is growing daily. He’s fast becoming The Shield’s breakout member, racking up a record 12 eliminations in the Royal Rumble Match, more powerbombs than a B-52 and emerging as the Sole Survivor of this past year’s Traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match. The guy looks like royalty and hits like a foot soldier, packing a Superman punch that sends Superstars to sleep and — no disrespect to Kaitlyn — the best spear since Edge hung ‘em up. He truly owns the ring, and everyone else in it.
ADVANTAGE: ROMAN REIGNS
The Shield’s five-tool player is clearly Seth Rollins, who possesses both Ambrose’s ingenuity and Reigns’ fury with the athleticism of 10 men and the self-preservation instincts of none. The former WWE Tag Team Champion — trained in the hardscrabble halls of the independent scene — typically puts his body on the line in a way his fellow Shield-mates don’t, and he reaps great rewards as a result. He also has the tendency to get into his opponents’ heads, mimicking their signature maneuvers and taunts during moments of dominance (check The Shield’s match against The Undertaker & Team Hell No; Rollins mocks The Deadman’s throat-cut gesture and the former WWE Champion nearly blows a gasket on the apron).
As for Harper, the guy is crazy like a fox. Bray will convulse and yell in between atom-bomb maneuvers and Rowan will blindly pulverize anything he’s pointed at, but Harper thinks while he competes. You can see the creaky wheels turning in what might otherwise be an empty head, and the result is unsettling. His wild “YeahYeahYeahYeah” lolling suggests pure lunacy, but the heartless efficiency with which he executes the discus clothesline shows that Harper’s the member of The Wyatts who’s most likely to counter a coordinated attack by someone like Rollins, and the most likely to do something truly, terribly unexpected himself.
ADVANTAGE: LUKE HARPER