Hard to believe it's only been a little more than two weeks since we stopped believing in The Shield.
Even then, as we talked and typed our way through our emotions and thoughts about Seth Rollins' betrayal of his comrades in one of (if not the) most dominant trios in pro wrestling history, many of us assumed that The Hounds of Justice would soldier on, either by adding a new member or members, or simply as an odd couple tag team pairing of Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns.
This week's WWE shows have made it clear, once and for all, that The Shield is no more. (WARNING: minor spoilers for this week's Smackdown follow. Full spoilers are here)
It's probably better this way. Rather than diluting the concept or risk diminshing what they three men accomplished as a unit, they're each blazing their own path as a singles worker - and keeping confusion or debate out of the nostalgia pop that will greet their temporary reunion in 2024.
There are two ways we know they're done.
First, they're obviously involved in their own storylines. Rollins is doing dirt with fellow operative of The Authority THE DEMON KANE while taunting Ambrose. Dean is obssessed with destroying Seth. Reigns will never trust again, but he's dealing with it by hunting legends like Randy Orton and Triple H while trying to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Roman really hasn't directly addressed the Rollins situation since the June 9th Raw. He's too busy stockpiling vomit powder and stalking Vickie Guerrero at Starbucks.
The second and more obvious statement WWE is making with the three is in changing up their appearance and/or entrance music.
The first to debut new music - a rocker driven by a pounding drum beat - it's fairly generic at this point, but also sort of reminiscent of CM Punk's first WWE theme, This Fire Burns. Music often evolves and gets edited or remixed as time goes by. Rollins' new theme needs some work, as it doesn't really have an iconic hook right now, but it could work.
His new ring gear, which he debuted at last night's Smackdown tapings, is more problematic. Seth seems to be partial to skintight clothing - he went through a "Scuba" phase while still a Shield member - but it's more the leather-look that's a problem here. As many have commented, in combination with the silver accents on the boots and at the belt, he looks like he belongs in an X-Men movie. Or the pages of a 90s X-Men comic.
Being all-black does call back to his roots in The Hounds, while still being distinctive. Maybe it will grow on us.
Geno thinks this is a "greaser" look, and maybe it is. As someone who used to watch him on the independent circuit when he wrestled as Jon Moxley, the jeans and wifebeater combo makes perfect sense. He's a buff Jon Moxley. I do wish they'd let him wrestle in the simple black trunks he wore in the indies and on NXT, but again, long pants that aren't tights remind us of when he wore the combat pants, but the fact that they're jeans tells us he's moved on.
Of the three "new" (the quotes will makes sense when we talk about The Big Dog in a moment) themes, I like Ambrose's best. It's also a bit canned, but the chaos in it fits with the "Lunatic Fringe" personality they're pushing for him, and it does have opening notes that should become instantly recognizable.
The man that WWE seems to have the biggest hopes and plans for as a mega-star is getting an assist from the powers-that-be in that regard, as he's been gifted the most obvious continuity to the super-over Shield gimmick.
His look is unchanged. While the other two men now enter via the stage and ramp like the rest of the roster, Reigns came through the crowd on Monday night - just like always. And his music is a remix of Special Op. It's lost the spelling alphabetic announcement of a name, but even a casual fan will recognize the song.
And that's it. Clear cut evidence that the three-man wolfpack we've loved to hate and then just loved for the last year and a half is gone. It's time to form connections with Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins as singles wrestlers.
Are you ready to move on, Cagesiders? Does anything that wardrobe and production have done to change up the look and entrance of each former Shield member help with that?