Monday, June 9, 2014

Instant Feedback: Three of a Kind

A man on his own
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If any good was going to come from the dissolution of The Shield last week, it would have to be all three members showing readiness to emerge from the nest and become emergent icons on their own. As a group, the three men were an indomitable force, a trio that held the paradoxical properties of being uniquely individual but desperately and necessarily interchangeable. Their camaraderie was WWE's greatest asset for the last 18 months, and something far greater would have to be at stake in order for those bonds to be rent asunder in a nuclear reaction. One night is the smallest sample size that exists in pro wrestling. But one night can also be a beacon of hope, a foreshadow, a sign of a right decision. For one night, all three men had their auditions in their new roles, and their grades came back with the highest of marks.

Dean Ambrose was the surest thing. With wild-eyed intensity backing a stunning clarity of message, his voice was the rock upon which the trio was chained to upon its arrival to the main roster. For months, his message was the only one that wasn't garbled by droning or repetition. He said his piece and backed it with both force and style that made folks remember. But tonight, flames followed the tire tracks of his words. He called upon the power of all his words uttered in wrestling rings before, whether in WWE or NXT or CZW, and he broke down the door towards WWE's upper echelon. His was the least surprising star turn but lack of surprise rarely ever means lack of worth.

Roman Reigns already had the presence. Even when Ambrose laid the groundwork in the past, he was the only member of the group with stature enough to affix its signature imprimatur to any segment. When he told you to believe in The Shield, you best better have believed in the fucking Shield. But for all his debonair looks, his imposing stance, his flashy smile, and his signature spot delivery dripping with panache, he had never carried his end of an extended promo. Hell, he'd rarely if ever had been asked to do so. What was unknown prior to RAW this evening became an apparent, sterling positive however. He exuded confidence behind his threats to Seth Rollins, promising no emptiness behind his words. And while his threat to make Randy Orton the "butt" of WWE instead of its face consisted of a puerile playground threat, his delivery made it seem like comic relief well above its deserved paygrade. When a man takes total command of the microphone the way Reigns did, he is giving a glimpse into a future where he sits on a throne and holds dominion over others.

Rollins, like Ambrose, was a known quantity going into his audition. However, when he spoke, the masses pleaded with him to take it home, to say what he had to say and leave. Rollins at his best meandered to a point that Ambrose could have driven home like a jackhammer. At worst, he mystified the intended audience on what he meant to say. Then again, Bond-villaining one's way to a motive is far easier than defending a position from a moral background. Still, curve or no curve, Rollins found confidence. He found self-editing. He found a voice, one that wasn't the lost sheep of the flock, but one that could represent itself and stand on its own against a presumed future showdown with a man who considered him a brother but whom he only considered a business partner in Ambrose.

While again, one night is an erratic sample upon which to base a future of performance, the fact that Rollins looked like he belonged with Ambrose had to be promising for a future showdown. While I still question the logic of breaking up a group that could have changed the way WWE looked at stables forever (and frankly, they may still have done just that even though their permanence was never guaranteed from start), at least the first impression of their opening salvos as singles stars has been an overwhelmingly positive one. Maybe the plan all along was to have three ace prospects make it to the roster with the hook of being the most badass stable known to the history of WWE proper, and they just caught fire along the way as a group. Either way, I don't feel as bad as I did last week when the fracture first occurred. Great performance has a way of dulling the pain of unwanted results, after all.