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The backstage story of The Shield's beginning in WWE

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Megan Elice Meadows at Wikimedia Commons

The Shield may have broken up back in June but interest in the group hasn't waned. Even if it had, the origin story would fascinate nonetheless. To that end, this past week has given us a treasure trove of information on how Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose came together to become the future of WWE.

That's because CM Punk claimed the crew was his idea on Colt Cabana's podcast while Rollins told the story from his perspective on Chris Jericho's podcast.

First, here's what Punk had to say:

"So, and this, I don't know, this will probably blow some people's minds and then some people will be like 'oh, you're full of shit' but I don't fucking care either way: The Shield was my idea. What happened was, at the time the head writer was Eric Pankowski. He called me up one day and he was like 'okay, uh, nobody knows you're going to turn heel but we want to stick a stable with you. We want to give you Big Show as your heater.' I immediately groaned. I love Big Show to death but that's not a good idea. They wanted to put Daniel Bryan with me. I groaned. I said 'Daniel should be kept as far away from me as possible because, if anything, me and him should be like Bret (Hart) and Shawn (Michaels). We can be far apart and then we can come together when you guys need a fucking program for two or three PPVs, and we can always do it, and it will always be quality. There idea was a stable with me, Big Show, Daniel Bryan, and the only name they ever mentioned was Seth Rollins but they kept saying 'a guy from FCW.' So I went to Pankowski and I was like 'I don't like the idea. I'm willing to do the heel stable thing but why don't we pick three guys from FCW that are ready instead of using two guys, you know what I mean? They would just be treading water. Who cares? How many times are these guys going to turn?

"So I took the idea to Hunter, I took it to Vince, they agreed. Vince was immediately like 'who do you have in mind?' And I said '(Dean) Ambrose, Rollins, Chris Hero, or Kassius Ohno.' Hunter shot down Hero. They wanted Roman Reigns. They came to me and they were like 'what about Leakee?' I didn't... it wasn't my hill to die on. I said 'sure' because it made sense to me. Oh, they want their guy in, he's the pretty guy, but that's good because this guy can learn from working under me. The idea was they were supposed to be my group. Things fucking change. They like to take other people's ideas, make it their own idea, and then tout how awesome they are. So it then became Hunter's idea and up until the PPV they were like 'oh, we were told we might not be with you.' And I was like 'this whole entire time you're supposed to be with me' because the idea was they're with me, they're with me, they're with me, I go on to fight Undertaker, and then I have these three guys to work with after WrestleMania. ... I pitched all that, they loved it, things got changed, I didn't really care. Those three guys got called up, they're all fucking doing fantastic right now, mazel tov to them."

Now Rollins:

"The Shield idea never really got pitched to us. It was like just... One day I did... when I was NXT champion, I did... they booked me for... they did a tour of Egypt, which was just Cairo for three days, and there were like some rumblings when I got back from the tour that they were going to do something with me, or there was going to be three of us, or four of us, they were talking about calling up at the same time. And then like the next, either that week of TV or the next, I remember they had brought... it was Big E, Roman, myself, and Dean all up at that same time. So we were like... we thought it was going to be a foursome at first. Can you imagine Big E in a big, black tactical vest? As much as he sweats just like in life he would not be able to survive in something like that.

"So we thought it was going to be like a foursome. Then we talked to the guys up here and they were like 'no, no, it's not. We've got something in mind for the three of you. Big E is like a seperate deal.' And so we were, I think, originally scheduled to do Hell in a Cell. We were going to debut at Hell in a Cell, which was, I think, the night that Brad Maddox was the shoddy referee, he was the shoddy referee at that point and he gave Ryback the low blow or something like that. Yeah, we were going to do that but that got pushed back and we ended up... It was one of those things where like 'here, we have this idea for you. We're not quite sure what it is. We're not going to tell you but you're here, maybe we'll do something.' And I remember being at the building all day just kind of like waiting for someone to come tell us what we were going to do, and then no one did and it never happened. Then we were like 'oh, maybe it will happen tomorrow on Raw or something.' Then they talked to us and were like 'no, we're going to push it back until Survivor Series.' So we're talking four weeks of like 'oh, no. Oh, no, no, no, don't do this to me.' Of course you assume the worst, like 'oh, they kiboshed the whole thing. Maybe somebody's not sold on it.' Who knows what it is. So we were just literally like purgatory for four weeks. We're all thinking like 'man, we can't go back down there, we can't go back down there now that we're here. You can't make me.'

"So, finally we got to Survivor Series and the whole concept was sort of explained to us and stuff like that. It was just... Literally, I think initially the idea, and I don't know exactly how it got pitched, but I believe the idea was that initially we were supposed to be a security force for Punk. Yeah, like when he was working with Ryback, he was continuously -- this is during something like his 400 some odd day reign -- (and Ryback was super over as a babyface), super hot, and Punk was avoiding him at all costs and I think they just needed... I feel like, looking back on it, we might have just been the guys to feed to Ryback so that Punk could go do other stuff just so they weren't having matches every single week. So we were supposed to be like a security force. I remember when we got to the building, they had... 'Have you seen your costumes?' 'Well, no.' 'Okay, go to wardrobe.' Well, we go to wardrobe, we got these pants, we've got these awful turtlenecks, like, I don't know why we had turtlenecks. They were literally straight turtlenecks, like what your uncle would wear to a terrible Christmas party or something like that. And then we had these shields, like big plastic riot shields. You know, like plastic. Like if you were to stop a riot after the Canadians lost game 7 or something like that, when they were tipping cars over and you had tear gas, that's the shield. It said 'SHIELD' on it and we had the sticks, the clubs, too.

"I distinctly remember we were walking through the path that we were going to run and we had these shields and these clubs, and we're walking down the thing and Vince is by the ring. He looks over and he says 'oh, what you can't kick his ass by yourself?' And we're sitting here just looking like doofus's with these shields and clubs and we're like 'yeah, we can' and we just throw the stuff down. Luckily, that was all gone. We still had the rotten turtlenecks but, yeah, it was just like boom, Survivor Series, you're off and running. And then I don't know what the plan was from then until the TLC pay-per-view but in between there Punk got hurt. He got injured in like a... I think they did like a ladder match, some sort of match on Raw with Ryback where he took like a crazy bump on the ladder that was like all awkward and stuff like that. And he ended up not being able to do the TLC pay-per-view so they stuck us in there with Hell No, which was (Daniel) Bryan and Kane at the time, and Ryback. And this was our first match. Like, none of the WWE audience has seen us do anything but run in and beat the crap out of guys. It was in Barclay's in Brooklyn which was the first time we had done that building. You know, we had all the toys to play with and kind of this crazy ambiance of a new building, three guys they had never seen wrestle on television before. So we had like a... it was a crazy energy. And a lot of a... Ambrose and I had a little bit of that fan base in that Northeast kind of area, and Bryan as well, so we just had... there was just a crazy energy about that match. I remember like five minutes into it, it was one of those where you're just like 'oh, this is going to be really good, man.'

(Jericho: "I love how they had you come to the ring with shields.)

"Literally with shields that said 'shield'. It was so... There had to be a group that discussed this and then someone okay'd it like 'yeah, that's a great idea.' And those people have jobs and get paid. It's insane, right? I don't know how that happens but whatever."

Sometimes, things work out better than anyone could have hoped for.

And sometimes they don't.

Despite the bumpy start behind-the-scenes, The Shield immediately shot to the top of the card upon their debut and none of the three have ever looked back. Even now, Ambrose is a key main event level player hanging around the upper mid-card, Rollins is the top heel in the company who also holds the Money in the Bank briefcase, and Roman Reigns, while out injured for the time being, is rumored to be winning the WWE world heavyweight championship from Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31 to become the next star to carry the promotion.

Three out of three ain't bad.