Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The Shield

So, other than CMLL, I'm totally clueless on most current wrestling. Is ROH still a thing? TNA? When did the Briscoes grow incredible hillbilly beards? I'll usually watch at least one lucha maestros match from some backwater cock-fighting ring in Tijuana per year, and last year I never even managed that. I saw almost no WWE, and that was with people constantly telling me to watch a bunch of awesome Shield and Cesaro and Goldust matches. I mean, I'd seen bits of the Shield from this year and I liked all of it, but I never fully committed myself to watching all this stuff everybody had been telling me to.

Well, last week I bought a Shield comp and finally decided to do it. And fuck me if I don't feel like an idiot for not watching them sooner, because this shit is just a blast. Then last night they blew the faction up, which bums me out more than pretty much anything else in wrestling in a good while. Here's to the good times.

(I wrote about all of this before RAW last night, btw. You'll notice how optimistic I was while doing so. There's still a ton of stuff I'm looking forward to watching, like the Rhodes Brothers matches from last year and the Wyatts feud from this year, but everything from this point forward will be tinged with sadness knowing that they are no more. Prolly)

The Shield v Team Hell No & Ryback (TLC, 12/16/12)

I thought this was pretty fucking great. I've obviously been way out of the loop with WWE over the last few years and I know Bryan and The Shield are both over like crazy right now, but right from the jump the crowds seemed to take to The Shield and Bryan's YES/NO shtick was evidently pretty huge earlier than I thought. Everybody was at least good in this, even Kane who kind of stayed out of the way for the most part. Is this the best match he's ever been involved in? Definitely the best I've ever seen Ryback look, and I liked the way he was booked. The period he wasn't involved was because he was taken out with something appropriately huge, and when he was involved he got to look like a wrecking ball. The bit on the ramp where he just recklessly flung himself at Reigns and crashed through like four chairs and a ladder was awesome. Bryan was Bryan. Dug the triple No Lock spot and he always came across as a guy that would fight the odds no matter how stacked against him they were. Shield were fucking killer, though, especially Ambrose. He does a bunch of great little things and I bet he was a big Terry Funk mark. There was one bit where he hits Ryback with a chair, but instead of doing it like you'd normally see someone do a chair shot he just flings it at him and the chair bounces off Ryback's neck. Loved all of the big spots and never thought any of them were annoyingly contrived. Bryan's blindside tope, Rollins being chucked off the ladder through a stack of tables, Kane being speared through the barricade, etc. The Kane barricade spot was especially cool because it's a spot that's been done a fair bit in WWE over the years and has kind of lost some of its impact. This was really out of nowhere, though, and didn't feel blatantly set up. The most impressive thing with all of it is that it managed to retain a sense of chaos, which is unusual for big porpfesty WWE gimmick matches. Match also felt like a real case of an organised unit up against a makeshift trio, so you've got three Shield members working together all the time to isolate someone. Other than the third TLC match I really can't think of one I'd say is better than this, and even then I think this is the kind of thing I'd like more on re-watch at this point. I already feel like a doofus for putting off watching all this Shield stuff for so long. God bless Seabs' comp.

The Shield v John Cena, Sheamus & Ryback (Elimination Chamber, 2/17/13)

I liked this even more than the TLC match. One thing I'm noticing about these Shield matches already is how well they actually come across as a genuine unit. It was the same in the TLC match. They're obviously way less established here than they are now, but they're able to plausibly hang with three guys much higher up the card at the time, because while those three guys are individuals that are teaming together for the same cause, they're still not a TEAM. Not like The Shield. All of the Shield isolation spots, double- and triple-teams, saves, parts where they just overwhelm with numbers, etc. are all so well done. FIP section on Cena was really good stuff. Reigns has awesome headbutts, Rollins hits a crazy flying knee off the top and clearly dropped the Tyler Black-isms way before I figured he would, and Ambrose wrestles like a nutter again. Nothing he does is pretty -- it's all reckless and looks borderline-untrained, but in the best way possible. Some of his Heath Ledger Joker faces are definitely cooky, but guys making cooky facial expressions in wrestling is just about the last thing I'll complain about. Finishing run seemed shorter than in some of the TV matches I've watched from this year, but it was great while it lasted, which feels like a staple of these tags. Reigns' spear through the barricade was fucking spectacular again and ever better than than the one on Kane. Lillian throwing herself out of dodge was so great, like someone diving out of the way of a bus crash. Finish ruled, too. Reigns feels like the weakest worker of the three members, but his timing on big spots like that is impeccable.

The Shield v Goldust, Cody Rhodes & Big E Langston (RAW, 1/20/14)

Have we been getting this kind of trios match every week for a while now? Because again, I'm a numpty for not getting around to watching them sooner. This never really had a ton of structure or a real FIP section to sink my teeth into, but it was a fun as fuck ten minute sprint -- the kind of thing I will never really get tired of, and I'm hoping there's a bunch more of this ilk on the set. I've still basically seen jack shit of Roman Reigns compared to others that watch WWE every week, but am I being silly thinking Reigns is a really cool seller? Like, in subtle ways especially? Because his concussed sell of the Disaster Kick was awesome here and when he stood up to make the tag I could buy him puking right then and there. I dug him a bunch in the short Henry match from Smackdown last month as well, and his selling impressed me then, too. That Superman Punch on Cody was holy shit great and had me leaning on rewind like a motherfucker. This might actually be the first full Big E match I've seen and I liked him as a giant slab of muscle that chucks dudes around. I mean, his chucking around was certainly impressive, like the overhead belly to belly on Ambrose. Plus his Ultimate Warrior splash looks wonderful. Couple cool dives from the Rhodes brothers down the stretch as well (Goldust is doing somersault planchas off the apron in 2014? Why did y'all not tell me to watch more current Goldust?). Final few minutes were totally awesome, everybody just going a hundred miles an hour and running through a bunch of spots. I could get used to this.

The Shield v Daniel Bryan, Christian & Sheamus (Smackdown, 2/11/14)

Yeah, I'm all about this shit. I watched three Shield v Bryan and pals matches over the last two days and this one was my favourite. The other two took a bit to get going, but this had almost no filler with a short Bryan in peril section then a longer Sheamus in peril section, which was cool and a nice change of pace from him being the hot tag. Not that he doesn't still get to lay into people, because he does. He and Reigns have a turn hitting each other real hard and Reigns pops him with a fucking amazing right uppercut (Reigns also gives him this great "You again?" sneer upon entry). The transition into him being worked over was so awesome -- he's just done his ten count clubs to the chest on Rollins, but this time he's the one out on the apron. He goes up top from there and Ambrose runs along to cut him off, but Sheamus clubs him in the face before he gets there. Rollins then runs over and hits a kind of wheel kick to knock him off, and as he falls back in the ring he ends up lying with his head hanging out on the apron, so Reigns takes advantage and hits his cool running apron dropkick. Just a great sequence. Run to the finish totally ruled with Bryan kicking lumps out of every Shield member, him and Rollins hitting topes one after the other, Sheamus KOing Christian with a miscued Brogue Kick and Reigns following up with a spear. I get the sense you could pretty much stick any combination of three guys in there against The Shield and it'd turn out worthwhile.

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