The stable are known for their black ring attire (most notably their protective vests), their tendency to approach the ring through the live audience, and their trademark promos, which are recorded from a first-person perspective using a handheld camcorder. Their gimmick is that of a stable that possesses excellent teamwork and a willingness to sacrifice themselves for the good of the stable, and which achieves victories by overwhelming opponents with superior numbers after incapacitating their teammates.
During the January 2, 2013 NXT, which was taped on December 6, 2012, the Shield made their first appearance in NXT, though Reigns and Rollins had already wrestled there before and Rollins was the inaugural NXT Champion. Rollins defended his title against Corey Graves; as Graves was about to win the match, Ambrose and Reigns attacked him to cause a disqualification so that Rollins retained his title. The Shield then fended off the entire NXT locker room but retreated from Big E Langston. On the January 9 NXT taped on the same date as the previous episode, Rollins faced Langston in a no disqualification title match. The NXT locker room neutralized the other Shield members, and Langston defeated Rollins to win the title.
On the January 7 Raw, the Shield once again aided CM Punk by attacking Ryback during their Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match for the WWE Championship, which resulted in Punk retaining his title. On January 21, during the last Raw before the 2013 Royal Rumble, the Shield triple-powerbombed The Rock, Punk's WWE Championship contender at the event, resulting in Vince McMahon declaring that their interference in the title match would result in Punk being stripped of the title. Four days later on SmackDown, Punk denied an alliance with the Shield before calling them out and informing them that he did not want them to interfere in his upcoming title match. However, during Punk's title match at the Royal Rumble, a blackout occurred and The Rock was attacked by the Shield in the darkness, leading to Punk pinning The Rock and retaining his title. The match was later restarted by McMahon with The Rock winning the WWE Championship.
The following night on Raw, the Shield attacked John Cena; Sheamus and Ryback suffered the same fate when they attempted to save Cena. Later in the show, it was revealed through footage played by Vince McMahon that Punk's manager Paul Heyman had been paying the Shield and Brad Maddox to work for him all along. The next week on Raw, while calling out the Shield, Maddox revealed that he was the one who gave McMahon the footage. The Shield then attacked Maddox, but were forced to battle due to an attack by Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus. The Shield justified their feud with the trio due to a "decade of injustice" caused by Cena creating an environment where any wrestler would not face consequences for his actions, and whose mentality they felt had spread to other wrestlers like Ryback and Sheamus. This set up a six-man tag team match on February 17 at Elimination Chamber, which the Shield won. The Shield had their first Raw match the following night, where they defeated Ryback, Sheamus, and Chris Jericho.
Sheamus then formed an alliance with Randy Orton to feud with the Shield. On the March 1 SmackDown, while attacking Orton during his match with Big Show, the Shield inadvertently provoked Show into attacking them; the Shield thus started a feud with Show as well. On the March 11 Raw, the Shield's first singles match occurred when Rollins faced Show; Show won via disqualification as the Shield interfered and beat him down. Despite twice helping Orton and Sheamus to fend off the Shield, Show would turn on the duo immediately after. The Shield then challenged Orton and Sheamus to find a partner and have a match with them at WrestleMania 29. Show volunteered, but Orton and Sheamus chose Ryback as their partner. Meanwhile, Mark Henry's distraction of Ryback resulted in the Shield conducting a successful assault on Ryback, resulting in Ryback being inserted into a WrestleMania match against Henry. Without a partner, Orton and Sheamus eventually accepted Show's offer to take on a common enemy despite their mistrust of him. On April 7 at WrestleMania 29, the Shield took advantage of their opponents' inability to work together to win in their WrestleMania debut.
The following night on Raw, the group attempted to attack The Undertaker, but were ultimately forced to retreat by Team Hell No. On the April 22 Raw, the Shield faced and defeated the combination of The Brothers of Destruction and Team Hell No (Undertaker, Kane and Bryan). Four days later on SmackDown, Ambrose made his singles debut against Undertaker but lost via submission, after which the Shield attacked Undertaker and triple-powerbombed him through the announcer's table. Three days later on Raw, they defeated Team Hell No and WWE Champion John Cena in a six-man tag team match with Reigns pinning Cena for the win. Ambrose then started a feud with WWE United States ChampionKofi Kingston after pinning him in a six-man tag team match also involving the Usos. On the May 13 Raw, The Shield's undefeated streak in televised six man tag team matches ended in a disqualification loss in an elimination match against Cena, Kane and Bryan. With Kane and Bryan eliminated, Cena pinned Rollins and then Reigns was disqualified. Ambrose was disqualified when Reigns and Rollins attacked Cena.
On May 19 at Extreme Rules, Ambrose defeated Kofi Kingston to become the new United States Champion. Later that night, Rollins and Reigns defeated Team Hell No to become the WWE Tag Team Champions. Ambrose faced Kingston on the May 24 SmackDown in a rematch for the title, and retained when Reigns and Rollins interfered causing a disqualification. Ambrose defeated Kingston in yet another rematch for the title three days later on Raw. That same night, Rollins and Reigns retained their tag titles in a rematch for the titles against Team Hell No. On the June 14 SmackDown, the Shield's unpinned/unsubmitted streak in televised six-man tag team matches came to an end at the hands of Team Hell No and Randy Orton, when Daniel Bryan submitted Rollins. Three days later at WWE Payback, Ambrose defeated Kane via count-out to retain the United States Championship while Reigns and Rollins defeated Bryan and Orton to retain their tag team titles. The following night on Raw, Ambrose had a title rematch against Kane and retained after the Reigns and Rollins got Ambrose disqualified.
After the Shield attacked Christian and the Usos became the number one contender to the WWE Tag Team Championships, the Shield were defeated by them on the June 28 SmackDown. On July 14, during the Money in the Bank pre-show, Reigns and Rollins defeated the Usos to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship. Later on in the pay-per-view, they interfered in Ambrose's World Heavyweight ChampionshipMoney in the Bank ladder match, but the Usos in turn attacked Reigns and Rollins and Ambrose failed to win the match. The Shield then began a feud with Mark Henry, defeating Henry and the Usos in two six-man tag team matches, but losing to the team of Henry, Big Show and Rob Van Dam. Ambrose retained his championship via disqualification against Van Dam at SummerSlam.
The following night on Raw, the Shield began working for chief operating officerTriple H. They would aid WWE Champion and "the face of the WWE" Randy Orton against his number one contender, Daniel Bryan, while also attacking wrestlers like Big Show and Dolph Ziggler for speaking out against Triple H's regime. At Night of Champions, the Shield enjoyed successful title defenses when Ambrose defeated Ziggler while Reigns and Rollins defeated the Prime Time Players. At WWE Battleground, a fired Cody Rhodes and Goldust earned their jobs back by beating Rollins and Reigns in a non-title match. On the October 14 Raw, Rollins and Reigns faced the Rhodes brothers again with the tag titles on the line in a no disqualification match; the Shield lost the tag titles after an attack by Big Show. Two days later on Main Event, Ambrose successfully retained his title against Ziggler.
The Shield often exploit their numbers advantage, as exemplified by this attack on Kane...
^Clapp, John. "The Shield def. Randy Orton, Big Show & Sheamus". WWE. Archived from the original on 24 May 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2013. "Before the opening bell, The Shield made their trademark entrance through the WWE Universe, carving a path through the packed MetLife Stadium floor and its thousands of passionate WWE Universe members"
^Tello, Craig. "The Shield def. John Cena, Ryback & Sheamus". WWE. Archived from the original on 24 May 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2013. "The Shield countered with ruthlessness and their signature “divide and conquer” technique to decimate Sheamus (who was speared through the barricade), and then outnumber their opponents. The sum total of their scheme: Ryback took the crushing final hit and losing pinfall"
^Clapp, John. "The Shield def. Randy Orton, Big Show & Sheamus". WWE. Archived from the original on 24 May 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2013. "Before the opening bell, The Shield made their trademark entrance through the WWE Universe, carving a path through the packed MetLife Stadium floor and its thousands of passionate WWE Universe members. .. ... he ripped off Ambrose’s black protective vest ... ... With the victory, meanwhile, “The Hounds of Justice” not only extended their impressive streak as a unit..."
^Asher, Matthew. "Raw: Bryan's road through Hell continues". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 31 August 2013. "It appears as though The Shield is now Triple H's lackeys as they open tonight's Raw as makeshift bodyguards (Jerry Lawler called them "henchmen") for The Game as he makes his way to the ring."