All-State Arena (Chicago, Illinois)
The slow-to-unfold breakup of the Shield has been well-executed. This an act whose identity is and was tied up in being a cohesive unit. They were able to dominate in trios matches with the John Cenas, Randy Ortons, and Undertakers of the WWE world because of that strong cohesion. Given that, it would have been a disservice to the gimmick if they were a group that fell apart due to one minor misunderstanding or no real instigating event at all. It feels right that a group known for being on the same page should take a while to completely fall off of it.
The progression has been very logical. Reigns gets some extra attention as a singles. Ambrose – always portrayed as unhinged – predictably shows a little jealousy. They sort of work through it, however, and continue to win. The Wyatt Family – the first and only unit to really threaten them as a cohesive group – adds a little external pressure that compounds their growing internal strife. Two months of all of that has brought them to a near breaking point.
This match seemed to be the next, big step in the story.
The Chicago crowd apes the Elimination Chamber crowd by ridiculously chanting “This is Awesome!” before the bell rings. My issue with the EC match was that they squandered that heat from the anticipation by working a normal, building opening segment. Here they smartly go all out from the get-go with the Shield (specifically Rollins) pulling out a match worth of dives in two minutes. It was the sort of high intensity start that I thought the EC match was lacking.
What I have liked most about the breakup teases so far is besides for one or two moments in prior matches where Ambrose became almost unrealistically overzealous, all the other teases have been subtle by wrestling standards. Ambrose will do something dumb, Reigns will either shoot a quick look or not react at all, and that will more than get the point across. They worked a spot early in this match where Ambrose bumps into the ropes knocking Rollins to the floor. This makes Reigns upset, too much so I thought for what was a minor infraction (and an accident at that). It was maybe little too heavy-handed.
The big angle-progressing segment takes place a little later when Rollins has the opportunity to make a hot-tag. Ambrose hops off the apron before Rollins is close to the tag to tangle with Bray Wyatt outside. Reigns goes to fetch him. Rollins reaches the corner, but nobody is there to tag. There was nothing subtle here, but it was well done and a nice way to move the Rollins “child caught in the middle of two fighting parents” part of the story along.
Rollins refusing a tag from Ambrose later was even the bigger moment as it was the first time the Shield had a legitimate and major breakdown in communication. It makes sense for that moment to happen to Rollins. Ambrose is aloof and Reigns is too focused to see what is going on. Rollins has enough of being caught in the middle and walks. The Wyatt Family are already the Shield’s equals when both teams are at full strength so with Rollins bailing, the outcome is inevitable even if Reigns and Ambrose put up a strong fight. That’s been a cool element of this entire angle as well. Reigns might be tired of Ambrose’s act and Ambrose might be aloof, but (until this point at least) they still continued to fight as a unit even if that unit wasn’t as a cohesive as it once was.
Story aside, there were a half dozen or more dives in this match all of which looked very good. An argument could be made that the Shield is as much responsible for WWE’s current focus on multi-wrestler tags as well as the huge rise in dives the promotion has had over the past year. Both are obviously positive developments. Reigns bumps over the announce table were also a highlight here.
Good match and good angle.
Trios | Worthwhile | Quality & Angle