It’s Day Two of #TheShieldWeek, the eleventh installment of our (patent-pending) Juice Make Sugar Wrestler of the Week series. In celebration of this month’s Survivor Series, we’re taking a look at famous stables from the wonderful world of wrestling. As always we started with A Stable You Should Probably Know Better yesterday, and today we give you the finer points of their oeuvre with some Essential Viewing. But then we’re going to do something different with #TheShieldWeek and give each member their own day. Wednesday will be Seth Rollins’ — and we’ll Watch and Learn him but good, and give him his own GIF parade after — with Roman and Dean coming after him to finish out the week. Even with this change, we’ll still be making our “Amazon.com on steroids” dreams come true with “Juice Make Sugar Recommends…” on Thursday before finishing everything off with a Difference of Opinion (where JMS HQ erupts in a Triple Powerbomb-fueled civil war.)
There’s something to be said for making an entrance, especially when it involves putting a behemoth through a table, but much of that was done yesterday. Instead, it seems important to talk about the things that The Shield has done in changing the way the business functions and the work they did before they became the most important young workers in the company
Since the beginning, Dean Ambrose has been the talker of the group, not just in the sense that he is the one who speak for the group, but that his primary attribute — even with his prodigious in-ring talent — is what he can do on the mic. His introduction to FCW (the precursor to NXT) is the ur-example, and is a powerful statement even now as to what the goals should be for most young professional wrestlers trying to make their way in the business:
The first connection that many non-indy fans has with Dean Ambrose was in the rumor mills, where he and Mick Foley worked a Twitter angle that seemed to be building towards something bigger until Foley famously backed off because Ambrose mentioned, as Dean put it, “dumb/blind wife [and] his traumatized ignorant children who think he’s a good person”. What fans were less attune to was the brilliant work he was doing immediately prior to this with the Great William Regal. A blitz of pantheon promos followed, including this one:
There’s a real confidence in what Ambrose is saying, and with his how physically imposing he is — he’s actually taller (if slighter) than Roman Reigns, though the WWE would never mention this — it creates a very unsettling feeling. It also helps to underscore the many comparisons to The Joker — and specifically Heath Ledger’s interpretation — that have been mentioned as high up as the WWE commentary booth itself. There’s an absurd realness to his promos that permeates everything he’s saying, especially when he’s telling stories about how tough he is:
It feels like he’s making you aware of how dangerous he is just as much for his benefit as yours.
But he’s not the most dangerous member of The Shield, from a narrative perspective, anyways. That would be Roman Reigns, or as I’ve called him previously, The Hammer. The comparisons to his “cousin” the Rock (who is not *actually* related to him, even if the High Chief Peter Maivia was essentially family to the bloodline) make sense, but they seem to be of the “comparing white basketball players to each other” variety.
While he may boast a similar build, Roman Reigns exudes a quiet confidence and an internal rage that feels nearly unique. Like a kettle ready to explode, Reigns has made his bones by being the deus ex machina within the deus ex machina with his spears — easily the best ever — serving as the killing stroke in many of the Shield’s more prominent victories.
He plays the role as “the difference maker” exceptionally well for the squad, fully aware of his importance but with — and this is perhaps the defining characteristic of the group as a whole — an eye towards what’s most beneficial for the group. In a way, Reigns “wrestles to character” as well as anyone this side of Bray Wyatt. Notorious for his EPIC in-match smack talk, nearly every moment in the ring with Reigns has the undercurrent of witnessing something special or the possibility thereof.
And, like the ying to Reign’s yang, Seth Rollins specialness comes not from a particularly impressive offensive style — although the former Tyler Black is no slouch on that end either — but with selling that has redefined the Ziggler Scale. These two have combined to produce some of the more memorable PPV matches of recent vintage, and in doing so have revitalized a tag team division which has been stagnant beyond a few starclusters like Show Miz, Jeri-Show and recently, Team Hell No!, who the fellows dispatched for the titles at Extreme Rules.
But ultimately, their greatest legacy will be the (re?)introduction of the Trios concept, and the majesty of a properly executed six-man tag match. While there have definitely been groups before that worked well together in matches, the thematic difference between them have created one of the most efficient destruction machines the professional wrestling world will ever see. They’ve torn the house down more times than can be counted from PPVs:
And in doing so, have redefined an entire genre of match. Not bad for their first year on the job.