I’ll admit it. I was wrong. Take a screen shot because you won’t see me admit this very often. I was vehemently opposed to the breaking-up of the Shield after last month’s Payback pay-per-view.
Like many of my WWE criticisms, this revolved around my theory that they were reacting and that this change was not planned, it wasn’t part of a long-term story arc and that over the long-term someone in the trio was going to get exposed as a singles competitor because they weren’t yet ready to break away.
I’ll say it again, I was wrong.
In the weeks since the chair-shot heard ’round the world many of us were excited to see Seth Rollins get an opportunity. He was the one guy in the Shield we didn’t see turning. No one expected it. When they teased a Shield break-up before Wrestlemania, before they ultimately decided against it, it appeared that Ambrose would be the one turning on the Rollins and Reigns duo. Thankfully they decided against this and they gradually got over as babyfaces over the months after the Rumble.
Rollins, while arguably the best all-around of the three, was the one that needed a moment to set him apart. He was solid in the ring, a risk-taker, great timing, decent on the mic with a unique look. However, for some reason it felt as if he were the third wheel of the group. My worry was that he would be the odd man out and nothing more than a multi-time US or IC championship career. He was, Christian, or Marty Jannetty, or Dean Malenko or Bart Gunn. All solid, but clearly not the break-out star of the group. That was the future for Rollins unless something changed.
Rollins may have been Triple H’s “Plan-B”, but for Rollins it was the best plan for his career. Rollins has a pair of story telling elements at his disposal. He has his connection to Triple-H and The Authority and the Money in the Bank briefcase. Both are easy roadmaps to develop a lot of heat. By turning his back on the group, and being the catalyst for their break-up he’s instantly hated. The Shield was as popular, if not more popular than just about any babyface in the company. They were the cool kids. When you take something away that people love, people will respond with anger and vocal resentment. They also will hate for the one who caused the break-up of their favorite group.
He needed a spark. He needed something that distinguished himself from the group. Being the one who caused the break-up gave us a moment no one expected, and an instant reason to hate him. With the exiting Batista, Rollins could quickly ascend to one of the top heel spots with his association with The Authority
What we’ve seen develop is an opportunity for Reigns to slowly ascend to the top of the card with a mini-feud against The Authority and John Cena. This was an obvious next step for him. Time will tell if he’s ready for the spotlight and the extended matches as a singles competitor, but it goes without saying that he’s already a star. The reactions he already generates warrant his ascension.
It was only a matter of time before we saw Reigns in a main event spot. Now the time is here, let’s see how he does, one Superman punch at a time.
That brings the discussion to Ambrose. If you had told me when he was in NXT that he would organically get over as a babyface. I wouldn’t have been able to see it. He was cut out of the Brian Pillman mold. He was someone with a raspy voice, a maniacal face, and a physical style. What I ignored was his incredible work ethic, impeccable microphone skills, and unmatched in-ring intensity. Those are all qualities which ultimately get a wrestler over with the fans.
Ambrose is by all accounts the most, “ready” of the three to be on his own. I didn’t realize it would be as a baby face. The fact that his debut as a singles competitor is as a fan favorite, bodes for long-term success for the Ohio native. However, he has Rollins to thank for his ascension in the babyface ranks. He was the one who took the majority of Rollins’ punishment the night of the break-up and looked the most shocked when he delivered the backstabbing shot to his brothers.
The fans now have a reason to hate Rollins and with that a reason to support Ambrose. He’s someone who takes a beating, and comes back fighting. It will be up to Ambrose to continue to build that support, because I think once he builds the trust of the audience and turns heel, it will be that much more shocking provoking a powerful negative reaction.
I no longer look at the break-up of The Shield as that. I look at it now as a necessary dispersal of talent. These three remarkable talents have been ready to work on their own for awhile; but it was the shocking moment that allowed them to disperse which will be looked at for years as the moment when the next generation of stars escaped the nest and flew on their own.