WWE Power Rankings: The Shield takes center stage

The Shield has been the central focus of Monday Night Raw in recent weeks, and as Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose go, so goes WWE. Courtesy of WWE

With WWE building toward a number of big shows at once, Monday Night Raw has leaned heavily upon the rivalry between The Shield and Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler. Even as the latter trio seems to be falling apart, it's appropriate that that central rivalry has driven The Shield as a collective unit up to the No. 1 spot in the latest edition of the ESPN WWE Power Rankings.

At this moment, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and, to a lesser extent, Roman Reigns have taken a back seat to the collective power of The Shield. Sure, interpersonal dynamics have gotten a little messy, and Rollins' Intercontinental championship reign has been all but shunted to the side, but giving all three members a chance to move between working as a unit and flying solo offers an opportunity to set up some fun possibilities moving into the latter stages of 2018.

It's a fair point to say that three televised six-man tag-team matches featuring the same six wrestlers is a bit of overkill, but every time some combination of Rollins, Ziggler, McIntyre and Ambrose get into a ring, there's some magic in play.

While another Shield breakup was teased over the last few weeks, it seemed far too premature into this edition of their reunion to break up a cash cow like The Shield. With Reigns set to defend his Universal championship at Crown Jewel, and McIntyre and Strowman seemingly angling for conflict with one another, it may well be time for The Shield to fly solo again. The more we see from this version of The Shield, though, the more we're reminded of a group like D-Generation X -- always ready to come together when the time is right, but equally ready to stand out on their own and carry the main event.

Survivor Series seems like another opportunity to get the trio together in the ring, but as thoughts drift ahead to Royal Rumble 2019 and WrestleMania 35, it's hard not to wonder if this could be the right time to pull the trigger on a Shield triple threat for the Universal championship. Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose each have a key role to play over the next few years, and whether they're together or apart, their star power is undeniable.. -- Tim Fiorvanti

Rankings are based upon the perceived value of a superstar to the on-screen product of WWE, which is determined by the voting of a panel of WWE on ESPN contributors. Number in parentheses indicates first-place votes.

No matter the dynamic between them, their successes or failures, or their cohesiveness in the ring, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are driving the WWE forward. They continue to captivate audiences with strong mic work and drama, mixed in with well-executed matches. Win or lose, unit or separate, the company is in their hands at this point. -- Andrew Feldman

AJ Styles is quickly approaching a yearlong reign as WWE champion, and I don't think there are many fans who would complain if he had another year run ahead of him. Styles is able to get the best out of his opponent every night and his marquee matches seldom disappoint. Styles vs. Samoa Joe at Super Showdown was arguably the best in their series and one of the best matches of the night. Styles vs. Daniel Bryan at Crown Jewel is a hardcore fan's dream, and its place on the show opposite the nostalgia matches that are littered throughout the card makes it even more important. It remains to be seen if Styles vs. Bryan is a one-off on a big show or the start of a special rivalry heading into the part of the calendar where thoughts of WrestleMania season start to come together. -- Michael Wonsover

Don't look now, but one-half of the Raw tag-team champions appears poised for bigger and better things coming out of the thrilling conclusion of this week's Monday Night Raw main event. After a pair of Claymore kicks, an impending collision with Braun Strowman would be a fresh, new direction for McIntyre that could help drive him into the upper echelon of the Raw roster. -- Sean Coyle

It was a week for women's champions to cut scathing promos, and the combination of that along with the match Lynch put on with Charlotte Flair last week on SmackDown is enough to put her as the top woman in WWE right now. This character seems to fit Lynch, whether the crowd cheers or boos her. Putting Lynch in with the Hall of Famer Edge made everything seem bigger, and Lynch came out of that exchange looking like the biggest name in the ring. -- Matt Willis

Rousey has impressed more often than not since her arrival to the WWE, and she did it again on Monday night. Rousey unleashed her best promo to date directed at her WWE Evolution opponent Nikki Bella. The promo was fiery and well delivered, and she had the live crowd in the palm of her hand throughout. Her next test will be in a main event-level match at the aforementioned Evolution pay-per-view, and there's little reason to think she won't knock it out of the park again. -- Coyle

Strowman won the Raw tag-team championships with a 10-year-old child at WrestleMania 34, and yet somehow Strowman has needed the assistance of Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre of late? The WWE should keep Strowman on his own all of the time, as he is a powerhouse who can keep his heat for the long haul when utilized properly. -- KC Joyner

As popular as he is, Bryan hasn't had a ton of notable wins since coming back, but that could change at Crown Jewel early next month. If (and when) Bryan wins the WWE championship, watch out -- the roof will explode off every arena he steps into. -- Matt Wilansky

There might not be a more entertaining superstar in the WWE than The Miz. Miz TV segments have become exactly what The Miz claims them to be -- must see. The segments allow Miz to do what he does best, get under the skin of his guests and the live crowds. No one does it better. In fact, no one in the company compares to the eight-time Intercontinental champion on the microphone right now. He's the best talker in the WWE, hands down. -- Coyle

Triple H might not be a full-timer, but when he does show up to build a match there still isn't anyone better. His relatively out-of-nowhere feud with The Undertaker might not be everyone's cup of tea, but their segments have been the most engaging aspects of Raw and SmackDown week after week. The Australian crowd was never more active and excited at Super Showdown than they were during the "last' match between Triple H and Undertaker. Crown Jewel should be no different when it's D-X vs. The Brothers of Destruction, even if the in-ring quality might not be up to par with the rest of the card. When Triple H is done with that feud, he's already planted the seeds for a potential matchup with Evolution teammate Batista in the not-so-distant future. "The Game" is still one of the most compelling WWE superstars. -- Wonsover

Laugh if you want, but Truth TV is the best thing going on WWE television right now. He and Carmella are fantastic together, as was clear in the opening of SmackDown 1,000 as Shane, Stephanie and Vince McMahon all got involved. With respect to The Miz, Truth's show is far more entertaining. Dance break, anyone? -- Wilansky

Dropped from rankings: Samoa Joe, Brock Lesnar

Others receiving votes: Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Tommaso Ciampa, Bobby Lashley, Buddy Murphy, Dolph Ziggler, The Bar