Some of you may be wondering what's happened to The Shield of late. Despite continuing to put forth excellent performances night in and night out, they've clearly been downplayed in WWE storylines over the last couple of months. Gone is their undefeated streak and rubbing shoulders with all the company's top babyfaces. Now they're stuck in the midcard feuding with the motley bunch of Christian, The Usos and Mark Henry.
Usually when acts get deemphasised for no discernible onscreen reason it's because they have backstage heat with top wrestlers or company management. This is indeed one of those cases, as Bryan Alvarez reported in this week's subscriber only Figure Four Weekly newsletter:
"There was heat on the Shield in recent weeks. It was said that Rollins and Reigns were the two the office was upset with."
In Rollins' case the details are sketchy with the belief being it was some petty issue with The Big Show over "improper conduct", like maybe forgetting to shake his hand. With Reigns the infraction was more blatant, getting into a locker room argument with Randy Orton for everyone to see:
"Another WWE source said the issue with Reigns was that there was a house show tag match which Reigns and Randy Orton were in, and they botched up a spot and got into a shouting match about it backstage. A guy in Reigns' spot arguing with a guy in Randy Orton's spot is a great way to get massive heat on you. "
Alvarez is of course correct, even in the unlikely case that Orton was 100% in the wrong and was the person wholly responsible for making the mistake, for someone lower down the totem pole and much more inexperienced to complain about it afterwards is only going to cause you more trouble than it's worth.
Still, burying a trio that you've invested so much time and energy in marketing over the last nine months and are so talented due to some seemingly minor disagreements with other talent would be like cutting your own nose off to spite your face. Thankfully, Triple H, one of the key proponents of The Shield's almost unheard of mega-push straight out of WWE developmental, recognised that and talked his father-in-law Vince McMahon out of punishing them too harshly with his booking pencil and causing them to lose too much momentum:
"Regardless of what happened, we were told that there was a power struggle of sorts in that Vince McMahon wanted people punished and Triple H didn't want them punished, so he was fighting to keep them strong on TV."
It's still a precarious position anytime the WWE owner is upset with you or has any lingering resentment, but it sounds like this is just a bump in the road for Rollins & Reigns, who apparently got back into Vince's good books by the quality of their match with the Usos on the Money In The Bank pre-show:
"I don't know if things have changed, but another good source in WWE claimed that while there was heat, the pre-show match with Shield vs. Usos was so good that pretty much all the heat dissipated afterwards."
You've got to feel a bit sorry for Dean Ambrose who also paid for his partners' sins due to guilt by association and maybe that's why Damien Sandow ended up with the Smackdown MitB briefcase, despite Ambrose being the stronger candidate for the role. Hopefully, now that that injustice is over with, we can go back to fully believing in The Shield and that they will be rewarded for their in ring merits rather than unduly hindered over some silly behind the scenes sleight.