The Shield – Original Plans Did Not Include Roman Reigns

The Shield, consisting of Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose, have made an everlasting impact on us fans since their debut as a faction on WWE television in 2012. What many may not realize though is that the original idea of The Shield that was pitched did not include Roman Reigns. Who was the wrestler originally pegged to be in the group, who pitched the idea of The Shield in the first place, and what would their impact be like today had this original idea played out?

The Shield members Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns running in a hallway in a black and white photo

The Shield was a stable established with different beginnings than most other factions. Evolution, for instance, already had two established legends in Ric Flair and Triple H where they took a young Randy Orton and Batista under their wings. Other factions such as The Hart Foundation, Los Baricuas, DOA, The Truth Commision, and a later version of the Nation of Domination had loose family ties and race behind their pairings.

Related: Gang Wars – How Factions Changed the Wrestling Landscape in 1997

The Shield, on the other hand, were made up of three debutants to the main roster, and were handed the task of making it on their own as the new faces on the block. This was no easy task, but The Shield passed with flying colors and each has proven to be the future of WWE.

Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns have all become Grand Slam Champions since making their huge debut as The Shield at 2012’s Survivor Series pay-per-view.

From the moment they wreaked havoc at Survivor Series, unleashing their future famous Triple Powerbomb on Ryback through the announcer’s table, you could see as a group that they had the potential to be stars. Then their debut match came at the following pay-per-view, TLC, against Team Hell No and Ryback, and that potential was immediately fulfilled. After that bell tolled and The Shield got their victory, they were instant stars. The match was a show-stealer. They carried that momentum their whole run and became one of the greatest stables the WWE has ever seen.

With as much success that The Shield has experienced, it’d be bizarre to picture them with any different members in their spot. The only time this was really experienced was during their initial reunion in 2017 when Roman Reigns was ill and couldn’t make the TLC match against ‘Team Miz’.

It was RAW General manager Kurt Angle who donned The Shield gear and became a voluntary member (this was also his first WWE match in 11 years). As cool as it was to see Kurt wrestle again, seeing him apart of The Shield was… different. A week later on a house show in Glasgow, Triple H also voluntarily joined The Shield for a night.

Kurt Angle and Triple H donning The Shield gear as stand-in replacements to Roman Reigns while he was out with injury in 2017
Kurt Angle and Triple H were the only other wrestlers to don The Shield gear as stand-in replacements to Roman Reigns while he was out with an injury in 2017.

Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose have always been the three names attached to The Shield. That said, the initial idea for this group was to include Dean and Seth but not Roman. NXT Superstar Kassius Ohno, formerly known as Chris Hero, was the initial choice to be a part of The Shield.

So who pitched the idea of The Shield?

None other than the self-proclaimed “Best in the World,” CM Punk!

On the infamous Colt Cabana Art of Wrestling podcast, CM Punk revealed that he was the mastermind behind The Shield and explained their early origins.

“So, 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,” Punk revealed.

“What happened was, at that time [in WWE] 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.”

Punk wasn’t a fan of the stable Eric pitched to him to begin with and had a better idea himself, as he explains below.

“‘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 and Shawn.”

Punk continues, “We [Punk and Bryan] 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.”

“Their idea was a stable with me, Big Show and Daniel Bryan,” CM Punk explained.

There was another name that was thrown in, too.

“The only other name ever mentioned was Seth Rollins.”

Seth Rollins was the sole name mentioned to be in a stable featuring Daniel Bryan and The Big Show as CM Punk’s henchmen, but a “guy from FCW” was the main train of thought.

CM Punk went to writer Eric Pankowski and planted the seeds for The Shield.

Punk described to Eric, “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?”

Ruling out Daniel Bryan and Big Show, Punk took the idea to the powers that be, Triple H and Vince McMahon. They both agreed and Vince asked which three guys CM Punk had in mind.

“Ambrose, Rollins and Chris Hero [Kassius Ohno],” Punk replied.

Ambrose and Rollins were favorable selections amongst Vince and Hunter. Kassius… not so much

“They wanted Roman Reigns,” Punk recalled. “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 Shield started off their ascension to stardom by attacking all of Punk’s adversaries, all whilst never actually aligning themselves with him. It was revealed in the storyline a few months after their debut that it was Paul Heyman, Punk’s manager at the time, paying The Shield to back Punk up. The Shield then went on their way without Punk’s involvement.

Punk admitted this wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

“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.”

Up until the 2012 Survivor Series pay-per-view, Punk was under the impression that The Shield was his heel stable. It was The Shield themselves that broke the news to Punk that things might be different.

“Oh, we were told we might not be with you,” is what The Shield supposedly told Punk.

In response, Punk said, “This whole entire time you’re supposed to be with me!”

The original storyline plans were explained by Punk to the three members of The Shield and they were very different to what actually took place.

“The idea was they’re with me, they’re with me, they’re with me,” explained Punk. “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, but things got changed.”

Real-life dissension between Roman Reigns of The Shield and CM Punk?

The man who’s spot was briefly put in jeopardy for Kassius Ohno, Roman Reigns has responded to these CM Punk claims and on both occasions answered with two completely different vibes. The answers are puzzling, to say the least.

The first response was at a 2015 Wizard World Q&A in Philadelphia when Roman was asked by a young fan, “Who created The Shield?”

“There’s a lot of things. You’ll hear all kinds of stuff, ‘CM Punk made The Shield.’ Yeah… okay. The only thing he made was that Pepsi tattoo on his shoulder. I think a lot of people had their hands in on The Shield. We have a huge creative team that’s part of the process. But, ultimately, myself, Dean, and Seth made The Shield.”

Reigns was displeased to have Punk’s name mentioned as one of the originators of The Shield. It gets puzzling two years later when he addressed it once more on the Talk is Jericho podcast.

Speaking with Chris Jericho in 2017, Reigns backtracks on what he said at the Wizard World Q&A two years earlier.

“It could be a little off, but apparently I guess [it was] Punk’s idea to have security or whatever. And he had a group of guys in there, but I wasn’t one of those guys. No, I was picked by Triple H and Vince [McMahon], of course.”

A way you could adjudicate this confusing manner is the way Reigns says, “It could be a little off,” before diving into the statement. The way that line is used makes it seem true but perhaps Reigns may have taken issue with giving Punk credit. It’s a matter of speculation and that’s only just one example.

Reigns has also mocked Punk outside of The Shield claims, adding fuel to that speculation. Reigns spoke with Alex McCarthy of Give Me Sport and responded in mocking fashion when asked if he would watch Punk’s second UFC fight.

“If it lasts more than 30 seconds!” Roman coldly answered.

Whilst the nitty gritty details of the origins of The Shield is debatable, one thing is for certain: they are amongst one of the biggest success stories of the last decade in WWE.

While Evolution will have a memorable reunion on Smackdown 1000 because of the impact they left on us so many years ago, The Shield too will very likely be in that same role for Smackdown 1500 in the year 2028. Only time will tell!

Want More? Choose another story!

Follow us:  Twitter / Facebook / Instagram

The Pro Wrestling Stories Podcast - your favorite stories, in the form of audio!
Listen/Subscribe (it's free!): Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / Spotify / Stitcher / YouTube
Braeden Farrell
Braeden Farrell is a senior writer for Pro Wrestling Stories. He is a long-time fan of wrestling based out of Adelaide, Australia. He can be reached on Twitter @braedenfazza.