The obligatory holiday well wishes to everyone out there. Belated Happy Hanukah and Blessed Yule to the Jewish and Celtic Pagan/Polytheists out there and a Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate the holiday either for religious or secular reasons. And in the words of that bastion of culture, Krusty the Clown, don’t forget to have a “Crazy Kwanza.” There, I think that sufficiently addresses everyone in a politically correct fashion. Now, on with the column.
Not too much to address from the wrap up of my hypothetical Wrestlemania XXX card. Aside from the fact that two major elements did not happen as I called for in my main event (Cena did not win at TLC and Lesnar was not brought in…yet). It is not abundantly clear what direction they are heading for the title match at Wrestlemania. Many are like me thinking Bryan is winning the Rumble. But would they do a rematch of him and Orton? Or will they shift the title at the Rumble or Elimination Chamber? Or is there some other “earth shattering” plotline they are going to unfurl that no one can call? Only time will tell. And by time, I mean at least three weeks once we clear the holidays and the Royal Rumble card starts to shape up and we can get a better lay of the land.
Someone did like the idea of incorporating NXT onto the pre-show, and actually recommended it become a permanent feature. I do not think I would go that far. I like that NXT is kept apart for the main roster the majority of the time. It allows the rookies to have their own show, with occasional guest appearances from the main roster. I think doing NXT as the pre-show for every pay per view is not the best idea and potentially dilutes the product. Wrestlemania is like THE event for the WWE, so it makes sense to include all elements of their brand on the show, including their developmental league. I do like the idea of allowing one NXT performer a year getting a spot in the Rumble like they did with Bo Dallas last year. Maybe even at Survivor Series do an NXT elimination tag match too. Playing in the big leagues should be a rare honor for the developmental talent, not an expectation.
From One, Will Come Three
In the lead up to TLC, we saw what appeared to be the formation of significant cracks in the dominant trio of the Shield. Dean Ambrose demonstrated some subtle envy over the growing dominance of Roman Reigns and attempted to assert himself as “the leader” of the three equals. They openly argued on the Raw prior to TLC, and miscommunication led to them losing the handicapped match. This pat Raw however, the three were united and worked as a well-oiled machine, capturing victory with no apparent issues.
Or was that just the final calm before the storm?
When assembling my Wrestlemania XXX card, I fertilized the seeds of the Shield’s dissolution. To summarize, Reigns attempts to show-up Ambrose by trying to defeat Big E Langston for the Intercontinental title at Elimination Chamber. He fails, which leads Ambrose to try at Wrestlemania in a unification match of the Intercontinental and US Titles. Ambrose loses that as well. Elsewhere on the card, Reigns and Rollins have their own matches and come out victorious.
Following Wrestlemania, the animosity between Reigns and Ambrose intensifies. Reigns repeatedly digs into Ambrose that he was the only one to come up short at the big show. Ambrose blames Reigns for him not having his back, like they had in the past (never mind Ambrose would make Reigns face his Wrestlemania opponent alone first). Rollins attempts to play the peacemaker, reminding the two that their power comes from their unity and the fact there is no leader in their pack.
The three continue to work as a unit, but the cracks grow more pronounced. Blind tags become more frequent between Reigns and Ambrose with the other looking to outshine the other. The two fight over who will partner with Rollins in tag matches, looking to show which of them is the most dominant. Rollins grows increasingly resentful that he is treated as the third wheel in the alliance.
At Extreme Rules, the Shield gets a chance at the WWE Tag Titles in a 3-on-2 handicapped match against the current champions. The match culminates when Rollins tags in Reigns, who sets up his opponent for a spear, only Ambrose blind tags himself in so Reigns can’t score the pin. Ambrose gets in to deliver the bulldog driver, but Reigns won’t leave the ring and argues with Ambrose. The two get into a shoving match that leads to Ambrose walking into the finisher of their opponent and eat the pin. Post match, Reigns walks off on his own, leaving Ambrose still out in the ring and Rollins on the outside, confused about what happened.
The next night at Raw, the Shield are seen in their usual background area, Rollins trying to get the other two to put aside their egos once more and focus on their 6-man match that night. Once again however, Ambrose and Reigns have a breakdown and wind up fighting on the outside of the ring when Rollins is desperate for a tag and ends up pinned. After the match, Reigns and Ambrose get into the ring to check on Rollins and start blaming each other for the loss. Rollins gets up and joins the argument. He ends up pushing Ambrose into a spear by Reigns. The big man then tries to get Rollins to join him to leave, but instead, Rollins delivers his curb stop on Reigns, who then takes off his flack vest and leaves it in the ring with his former teammates.
This sets the stage for a triple threat match at Payback between Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns. In a high energy contest that sees shifting loyalties and the pursuit of dominance, Rollins comes out on top. The three then meet again a month later at Money in the Bank in the namesake match, with the three costing each other at several points the chance to acquire the briefcase.
From there the three are finished with one another and go off on their own roads. So, what to do with each member in order to avoid Marty Jannetty syndrome?
Dean Ambrose: I see Dean retaining the roll of enforcer for the Authority or whatever form of leadership is present. He is the fixer, who will do whatever is asked of him, accepting that the rewards will come down the road. If there is an opponent that needs softening up, Ambrose is the man. A tag partner for the company approved heel, Dean is the go-to choice. Putting a wrestler back in his place? There is an Ambrose for that. I would keep him in his Shield gear as he pulls off the look well and it fits with the position as the private enforcer. From his loyalty and effectiveness, the Authority decides to put their faith in Ambrose and start grooming him to be the new face of the company.
Roman Reigns: Roman becomes the new monster face. They are certainly breeding him for that with his dominant performance at Survivor Series. Further, they have really been promoting his spear, which looks impressive when he hits it. It is a move that really pops the crowd, and I could see him becoming a new fan friendly beast that beats back the monsters. I think of developing a catchphrase similar to Dr. Broom’s description of the BPRD “There are things that go bump in the night, we are the thing that bumps back.” I could picture a huge clash at the 2015 Rumble between him and Big E. Langston akin to Cena and Batista from a decade ago.
Seth Rollins: The one who is at the greatest risk to fall into the abyss of Andrew Ridgley anonymity. I see Rollins in the short-term being an anti-hero face. I would have him adopt some of his Tyler Black persona. Do not go the full emo route, but definitely have him angry at the world. Keep him coming through the crowd, being anti-establishment. Done him in black leather and have him just tear into his opponents. He does not stand down from any challenge and refuses to be intimidated by anything and anyone. Do not put him in tag teams, in fact establish that following the betrayal of the Shield, he has no faith in anyone. Yes, this description runs similar to Stone Cold Steve Austin. No, I do not think that Rollins would become the next Austin, but it is an effective character, different from Ambrose and Reigns and would not have him lost in the mix. I specifically had him win the feud amongst the Shield in order to show he was just as important as the other two. By showing that he was the one who had his ego the most in check and apparently had the most talent, he was maybe the foundation that the Shield was built upon.
I like this break-up because it allows each member to come out as their own individual with huge momentum and potential. Each member of the Shield has their own qualities and are accomplished. It would be a shame for any of them to suffer from Marty Jannetty syndrome. Think of the possibilities that 12-18 months after the dissolution of the Shield, all three are not only prominent on the roster, but high enough that a triple threat for the WWE title is a possibility and the bad blood that three way feud could tap into.
Until next week, I relinquish creative control.
Tags: dean ambrose, Roman Reigns, seth rollins, The Shield, WWE