Does this hold up? Is it suitable as the explanation for the end of one of WWE's most popular acts? I'd offer a tentative yes to the first question and a far heartier yes to the second.
|Check out the duds on Seth.|
Scrutinising any wrestler's reason for switching between heel and face (whichever way they're going) is a tricky business. Particularly, as is the case here, if it's a swerve turn. Rollins going bad was designed less to make sense and more to set up a fresh dynamic, matches and storylines. You can question his claim about creating The Shield, being inspired by 'The Game's' Darwinist lite speeches, and having run dry on objectives, but they're not going to make complete sense because they were comments made to retroactively explain an inexplicable change of heart.
We're on safer ground when looking at this as the reason The Shield (or at least the original configuration) had to go away. The group was always going to split at some point and the most natural way, practically the only way, to do it was to have one member turn on the others (or two turn on one, which amounts to the same thing). A better job could have been done creating a reason for the turn, seeding it and teasing it over a period of weeks or months, but ultimately it was always going to come down to this. It's predictable but fine. It’s the climax we expected for Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose.
Rollins was dressed in a natty black suit when he gave his explanation. It was left to his former teammates Reigns and Ambrose to represent the SWAT attire. They did that in their three segments, the first of which saw them job out 3MB and then give a very good promo about the defection of Mr Rollins. ‘The Lunatic Fringe’ noted, as Rollins would later in the evening, that the group had dominated the company and would be remembered as one of the greatest ever. He branded Rollins a suck-up and assured him that he’d rearrange his face in their inevitable match before referring to him as Triple H’s puppet. His delivery was spot-on.
Reigns was more succinct. He called Seth “the scum of the Earth” before saying he was targeting Randy Orton and Triple H and making a Game of Thrones gag. The audience responded well to the entire thing. While it was a pity that the Shield split came so soon, and from nowhere, at least fans are empathising with The Shield and wanting to see Rollins get his.
Ambrose and Reigns were back out again to rumble with Seth after he’d made his big Reason I Turned announcement. They briefly got their hands on him before the lights went out and they found themselves confronted by the Wyatt Family (Bray’s first appearance in a ring since Payback eight days before, fact fans!). John Cena made the save, setting up the six man tag main event.
|They're still winners, y'know.|
Said main event was a good match, but it didn’t hit the heights of previous Shield-Wyatts encounters.The main reason for that was obviously Cena. I’ve defended his wrestling ability in the past and stand by my statements but a six man tag match is not an environment he’s cut out for. That’s mostly because he’s not used to the pacing differences to his regular singles matches. But even if Cena had been a superworker like Daniel Bryan this match would have jarred. The trios as they were knew each other and so knew how to play to the opposition’s strengths to have a damned fine match. A newcomer’s involvement threw that off.
The only other items of relevance all occurred in the opening segment. A statement from Dr Joseph Maroon was played in which it was revealed WWE champion Daniel Bryan would not be cleared to wrestle until July at the earliest. The Authority then announced that D-Bry had been stripped of the WWE world title. Curiously Stephanie claimed they’d been trying to get hold of Bryan all day to tell him the news seconds before revealing the championship belts hanging over the ring. How did that come about, eh?
Because of that the Money in the Bank match at Money in the Bank was changed to a multi-man ladder match for the vacant championship. It was referred to throughout the show as a Money in the Bank ladder match, even though the Money in the Bank briefcase won’t be on the line. Sheamus and Cesaro joined the already qualified Alberto Del Rio in the match by defeating Wade Barrett and Robert Van Dam respectively. Randy Orton was slotted into the bout simply for being Randy Orton. I’m not being facetious. That was the reason Triple H gave when announcing ‘The Viper’s’ involvement.
It’s disheartening that Bryan has been stripped of the title. Since winning it at WrestleMania he’s defended it once. Against Kane. That’s hardly a memorable run, and it’s a shame because WWE had done a good job of telling the story of Bryan regaining the title. Fans wanted to see him as champion and Bryan deserved a lengthy reign.
It’s understandable though. The title couldn’t be kept on him indefinitely and with MITB WWE has the ideal way to crown a new champ. Bryan works better as a challenger than a champion so another storyline quest for the gold should work well enough. In fact, another stretch chasing the champion will probably work out pretty well for Bryan in the long run.