The Shield will go down as one of the greatest factions in WWE history, simply because of the impact they had in less than two full years as a collective faction. And although they’d all been there before, Sunday night at Money in the Bank showcased Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose as legitimate main-eventers as singles stars for a long time to come. In a subtle sign of symbolism, Reigns, Rollins, and Ambrose were all WWE World Heavyweight Champions at one point during the pay-per-view in Las Vegas.
Reigns entered the main event as the champion, having successfully defended the title at the two pay-per-views since WrestleMania when he won the belt from Triple H. It was technically Reigns’ third stint as WWE World Heavyweight Champion, since Sheamus cashed in his Money in the Bank contract after Reigns beat Ambrose at last year’s Survivor Series. He then beat the Celtic Warrior on an episode of RAW, and his second reign ended at the Royal Rumble, further setting the stage for his showdown with The Game.
On the surface, it appeared as if WWE was moving forward with Reigns as the new face of the company and potential successor to John Cena. But in a twist of fate (Ambrose cashing in his newly won Money in the Bank briefcase), the Roman Empire was conquered less than three months into its reign. Sandwiched in between was Seth Rollins beating Reigns and recapturing the title he never lost in the first place. For a brief moment, it looked as if the WWE were going back to Rollins in his first official match since returning from injury. This all looks to be heading towards the match fans have been demanding for more than two years: A main event triple threat match between all three members of The Shield.
That match, and likely rematch, will still keep Roman Reigns in the main event, but his run as champ appears to be over, at least for now. Wrestling Inc. is reporting that the biggest reason for the title switch is because of the poor draw Reigns has become on the company’s live events tour. In May alone, the company suffered a 30 percent decline in live attendance from year-to-year. A big reason for the drop was injuries, most notably to John Cena. A decline was expected in his absence, but perhaps not that substantial, especially when the superstar they are/were grooming to take over for Cena (Reigns) is consistently headlining those shows.
As many are aware, WWE runs two different house show tours. During Cena’s injury hiatus, Reigns led one show, while Dean Ambrose was the top babyface of the other. The attendance numbers were virtually the same, but WWE considered the Reigns’ tour as the “A” show, while Ambrose headlined the “B” show. If a lesser show draws just as well as the show considered more superior, then it stands to reason to give the other guy a chance. Although it wasn’t specifically mentioned, there is certainly a correlation between Reigns not getting over as the top babyface of the company and poor attendance numbers. There’s a chance that they could have continued with Reigns even if he was getting booed every night if they were still selling out arenas.
What’s interesting in all this will be the potential fall-out. When the brand split is executed next month, it had been reported that John Cena would be the top babyface of one brand (most likely SmackDown) and Reigns of the other (most likely RAW). But by pulling the plug on Reigns’ championship run, it may be an indication that Dean Ambrose will be the top face of RAW moving forward. Or at the very least, it won’t be Reigns. That may give them the opportunity to turn Roman heel in an effort to eventually turn him back and attempt another massive push down the line.
[Image via WWE]