November 18, 2018 will mark the exact six-year anniversary of The Shield, a WWE faction that appeared like a supernova and ended up creating three top-flight main event talents. Fittingly, there will be a WWE pay-per-view on this anniversary — Survivor Series, the same annual event where the Shield first appeared. It’s kind of hard to believe that the WWE Universe at large has only been familiar with these three men for six years, but a year in pro wrestling isn’t like any other in sports … or in real life.
There has been a lot of triumph, tragedy, heartbreak, history, and expectations spread out over those six years. On Sunday, only one of the three members of the Shield will officially be in a match, although a second will almost certainly appear. And the third … well, we’ll get to that.
At Survivor Series 2012, three men in all-black tactical attire ran into the ring from the crowd and attacked Ryback, who seemed about to pin John Cena in a Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship. The three men triple-powerbombed Ryback through an announcer’s table, allowing CM Punk to pin Cena and retain his world title. The three men were identified as being from WWE’s developmental brand, NXT. Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns had officially arrived on the main roster.
There’s some dispute over the specifics of the behind-the-scenes formation of the Shield. Punk claims that he came up with the concept of three mercenaries who would help him keep his title, and according to him, he hand-selected Ambrose, Rollins, and Kassius Ohno, who had a long history with Punk on the independent scene under the name Chris Hero. Also according to Punk, Triple H nixed Ohno being in the group and made the call to include Reigns as the muscle of the stable instead. (The Shield themselves haven’t really commented on Punk’s version of events, but they do credit longtime WWE producer Joey Mercury with coming up with a lot of the nuts and bolts of what made the unit successful in the ring and on camera. There are also stories about the Shield originally being conceived to carry actual, literal riot shields, and the universe is all the richer for that not happening, but also for us knowing that was on the table.)