It was late 2012 when The Shield made their debut on the main roster, helping CM Punk retain the WWE Championship at Survivor Series. Just a month later, Big E also made his main roster debut by attacking John Cena and aligning himself with Dolph Ziggler.
During his WWE Network special, Big E revealed that there were internal talks of having him be apart of The Shield. Big E said, “My first feeling of getting called up was 2012. I was doing loops. Any collective period of days is a loop. It’s Roman, Seth, Dean, and me. There was some thought of bringing all four of us in together as a group. Obviously, that changes, and they go on to international fame as The Shield. I was told, ‘You’re going to be with Dolph and AJ on your very first night, and you’re going to attack John Cena.’ I’m thinking, ‘Man, this is it.'”
Big E was still NXT Champion at the time of his debut but felt like he needed to debut on the main roster so he could continue to grow as a superstar. Big E won the Intercontinental Championship after being on the main roster less than a year. Of course, things worked out, as he ended up being apart of another three superstar stable that was just as successful as The Shield (New Day).
Thanks to Fightful for providing transcriptions from the special.