Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bulletproof Trios: WWE Elimination Chamber Preview, Part 1

The poop's gonna go down on Sunday
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The hottest feud in WWE right now is a heel vs. heel tilt between two deranged trios who are in holding patterns before their WrestleMania destinies are known. The preceding may be the most incongruous sentence I have ever written, because WWE doesn't usually put black hats against each other, outside of a short period in 1997-98, were not known for gang warfare, and certainly haven't traditionally booked for a headline-level match to have this much gravitas a month before their biggest event. Then again, nothing about The Shield or the Wyatt Family has been conventional for the Worldwide Leader in Sports Entertainment.

Usually, the Venn Diagram doesn't have "long-lived" and "well-booked" overlapping for bad guy conglomerates in WWE, yet The Shield, who debuted 15 months ago, have been one of the steadiest-pushed, most stable groups in the company. They underwent at least three metamorphoses (hired Paul Heyman goons to gold collecting egotists to steady private security to Roman Reigns star vehicle), and the only time they were in danger of losing any momentum was that brief period before SummerSlam when "da sheetz" reported that they were in the doghouse because Reigns was too mouthy. Excuse me while I try to hold back my snickering.

The Wyatts, meanwhile, have always remained a star vehicle for their insanely charismatic titular leader, and the group's career arc looks strangely reminiscent of the one taken by the Undertaker upon his debut in 1990. They are using supernatural means to seize a piece of the main event scene, and the results so far have been smashing, the pinnacle of which so far have been their two-month harassment and subsequent abduction of Daniel Bryan.

Despite the common "backstage" logic being that these two groups should be as far apart as possible, their clashing has made more sense than anything WWE has done since the Nexus formed and destroyed a RAW set in response to, well, Season 1 of NXT. Seriously, if I had to jump through hoops (literally) while Michael Cole made fun of me incessantly, I would wanna wreck shit in response. And in the same vein, if I were part of a trio that had its sights squarely on the top dogs in the yard, dogs like the Undertaker, Bryan, and John Cena, you're damn well right I wouldn't want another trio horning in on the action.

The beauty of their feud has been in how logically it built even though it lay dormant for two months. The two trios clashed in November before they were apparently separated. However, for as much as those two handicap matches looked like WWE having nothing in the tank for TLC after the Unification Match, the tandem of matches in retrospect look like they were flare ups in a cold war between the two groups. Rather than attacking each other directly, they were set on separate wars against opponents they seemed to have decided advantages over. However, Bryan proved to be more Grenada for the Wyatts, while CM Punk was The Shield's personal Afghanistan.

I want to be surprised that WWE Creative and Vince McMahon had the patience to pull off this kind of simplistic beauty between the two stables. Then again, both trios have been bulletproof from WWE's booking malaise so far. Obviously, the Wyatts haven't been around for as long as The Shield has, but both groups still have found themselves with plenty of momentum, strewn with scads of interest attached to their narratives, and stocked with ace members within their ranks who can take the strain of being a WWE main event player. Maybe their auras make it easy for the writers to craft a simple narrative and allow them to explore the studio space to make it their own.

The only downside to their contest is that unless WWE calls a major audible, their match Sunday will be the blowoff match and not one at Mania. Bray Wyatt looks like he has a bigger fish to fry in Cena, while The Shield's implosion countdown starts with the finish of said match at the Chamber. Then again, maybe an extended build into Mania would be the thing that pushes this feud from perfection into overkill. I can't read the future, let alone multiple possible futures. However, the finale that WWE is presenting on Sunday feels pitch-perfect. Despite their final non-Network pay-per-view being a two-match deep show, those two matches look like they'd be worth buying any event for, regardless of what was promoted underneath them.

Tomorrow, part 2 takes a look at the actual Chamber match.