Wednesday 18 June 2014

The Shield's Trial Separation

Romeo. Echo. India. Golf. November. Sierra. Reigns!

That's the only change that needs to be made to The Shield entrance music to make it suitable for Reigns as a solo act. It’s a change worth making because it feels right for his character to keep the music, the through-the-audience entrance and the ring gear of the group. It just doesn’t make sense to have The Shield name acknowledged when he enters.

Ambrose smells something unpleasant.
The reason I bring up the concept of Roman Reigns as a singles act is that it was given a trial run on RAW. His association with Dean Ambrose hasn't been brought to an end and it probably won't be for a while yet but the two did not appear together on the show. Ambrose ran in on a Seth Rollins match wearing jeans and a vest and then wrestled a match against Bad News Barrett, losing by count out after Rollins reappeared to taunt him. It's possible that he had new music too, but it wasn't played when he entered and was so nondescript that it could just have been Rollins’s.

Meanwhile Reigns appeared in a series of backstage skits in which he spiked Stephanie McMahon's drink with something that made her throw up so she'd get sent to hospital. He then manipulated Vickie Guerrero into adding him to a battle royal, the winner of which would be added to the upcoming WWE championship ladder match at Money in the Bank. Reigns won that in impressive fashion, tossing out several disposable names before last eliminating the undefeated Rusev. The final exchange was well laid out and it was heartening to hear the audience react so passionately to the stare off between Reigns and 'The Super Athlete'.

Both Shield members came across well during the trial. People responded to Ambrose's fervent promise that he would be getting his hands on Seth Rollins and the look he sported was a good one, similar enough to the riot gear look people expect without being an isolating radical departure. It's unlikely he'll get to keep it over a more generic look though: WWE seems to dislike casual gear on their grapplers. Besides, it's almost certainly too similar to the preferred look of scruff bag extraordinaire Luke Harper.

Reigns and the world title. The future?
Reigns knows how to work the cameras during an entrance (easier now he's alone), has a number of moves that are over, and has a star aura to him. It’s easy to accept him as a main event act. That’s the result of the good booking he’s received over the last year and a half, particularly his memorable, status-enhancing showings at Survivor Series and Royal Rumble.

The only negative regarding Reigns was the decision to put him in backstage skits. He handled them well enough and the audience reaction indicated that most people seemed to enjoy them but I don’t think it’s a good approach for a man like Reigns. His demeanour, stature and look make him the sort of man people want to see fighting his way to the top, not sneaking there in backstage segments. It’s part of WWE’s distressing habit of feeling they need to humanise their main event stars with comedy. It would have been more fitting for the Reigns character to simply storm to the ring and manipulate Triple H into adding him into the match himself rather than messing around with Vickie Guerrero. It’s a minor thing now, but if they stick with that approach it’ll become far more problematic.

Overall Ambrose and Reigns both looked good on RAW. While I hope their partnership continues for a while yet we now know that they’ll be accepted in singles roles. And that thoughts been given to how to present them as such. Which, considering generally poor approach to creating new stars, is nice.

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