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WWE DVD Review: The Destruction Of The Shield

WWE Destruction Of The Shield

By James Cox, WrestlingObserver.com

The thought went through many a head after The Shield’s second consecutive ppv match against Evolution at WWE Payback last year that a DVD collection of their matches, even this early in their career, would actually be a pretty amazing portfolio of work. WWE actually going ahead and producing it was another thing. Credit where credit’s due: they did.

The title might be misleading. This isn’t a look at how they came unstuck and ‘destructed’ as a unit nor is it fully a biopic of how destructive a force they were when they were together. It kind of exists in a hinterland – one that straddles both of the above and one that often treads a slightly awkward line between kayfabe and reality.

The documentary is to some extent already out there: the WWE Network profiled the group in an all-access profile piece called ‘Road to Summerslam’ in August of last year and did a good job in trying to build up that sense of a great stable reaching its’ demise. But don’t make that stop you from investing. This version makes additions that are well worth it. We have some fascinating clips of the three together and as individuals and some talking heads of true quality – Les Thatcher, Gabe Sapolsky, Paul Heyman, Daniel Bryan and a wonderful turn out from Sami Zayn are just some of the experts on hand.

Joey Mercury is also worthy of note. Midway through the documentary feature he boldly states, “if you come through the independent scene into developmental you have a big advantage over everyone else.” The elephant in the room. If you look at where the company is right now, so much of their talent and popularity is bolstered by those who have come out from the indies. And if you look at NXT and developmental right now, to some extent the future is the indies.

Footage of Seth and Dean as indie stars is all over the documentary and matches of all three Shield stars from their time in FCW are here to see. In a time where the Network offers so much, this is clever. Here, you’re getting things that you can’t get on the Network. And its not just there for that reason. These are good matches that are genuinely worth your time. Rollins and Ambrose (who Seth refers to as his “wrestling soul mate”) have three iron man matches that are a lot of fun and there’s even a three way between them with Reigns carrying the inevitably doomed ‘Leakee’ moniker.

The Shield matches speak for themselves. Their first match at TLC 2012 against Ryback, Bryan & Kane is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s their Wyatt’s matches, Evolution bouts, tag team title matches, as well as Ambrose v Rollins in a Falls Count Anywhere match and their post-WrestleMania encounter with The Undertaker. More than ever, this is a DVD set to buy for the wrestling.

The documentary is not to be dismissed, however. Seth’s plight is presented as just that – a plight. He heelishly states that he “knew that [he] was better than everyone else in developmental” but butted heads with the trainers, most notably Terry Taylor who didn’t like his attitude and Triple H tells us, like some kind of headmaster or principal for WWE’s developmental system, that they “had words” and then Seth’s attitude was all-of-a-sudden better. In typical Triple H fashion he is sure to bury Seth by, in no uncertain terms, telling us that he still had a lot to learn: “he wasn’t ever quite where he thought he was.”

If there’s one thing that they push here with Rollins it’s his in-ring ability. And, of course, he took the rebranded NXT by storm and we’re shown that hewas the first winner of their current title. Ambrose, however, is pushed more as the unique character and the kind of persona that no-one else would or could present. Thatcher talks about his self-assurance. Bryan puts over his in-ring work. Sapolsky says “this guy needed to be on our show, if for no other reason but to talk” and Joey Mercury quite simply says that he was “electric, captivating. The most interesting character I’d seen in 10 years.” Ambrose could have such a great future in this company.

And then there’s that elephant in the room. They go to great lengths to tell us about Roman Reigns’ background as an athlete; a football player for Georgia Tech, the Minnesota Vikings and then the CFL. Much of this taken from The Uso’s Network special, ‘10 Hours to Houston’ and kind of puts a nice Band-Aid on the fact that, of the three, Reigns is the muscle who came “from a royal blood line” and who “works incredibly hard” but who wasn’t a wrestler honing his craft around the world for years before he signed for the company. Don’t get me wrong, he just had a fantastic match with Daniel Bryan at WWE Fastlane and he looked great against Lensar at WrestleMania but he’s a different kind of WWE talent and not the kind that the hardcore fan generally warms to in the immediacy.

As a trio, we see just how hard they were pushed. They beat the brightest, the best and the legendary. They triple power bomb The Rock, The Undertaker through the announce table and everyone and anyone who was, and is, anyone in the company. And so when they split, it’s still so evocative watching Rollins smash the chair on Reigns’ back and to watch Ambrose look in utter disbelief, mouthing “what the f***” before being waffled himself.

Watching the three men as singles brings a great deal of relevance back to the documentary. Dean winning the US Title in St Louis (as he notes, “Harley Race territory”) and Rollins and Reigns winning the tag titles which meant such a lot to Roman in emulating his father are glossed over. Watching Reigns’ dominance at Survivor Series and then as he eliminates 12 men at the Royal Rumble in 2014 sets up the documentary’s climax nicely.

Ambrose v Rollins at Summerslam is beautifully poised as we see behind the scenes video of Rollins doing cross fit training and Ambrose out in the Nevada desert shadow-boxing and running through cacti. Think Bret and Shawn before WrestleMania 12 without Bret skidding on patches of ice and without Shawn hanging out with Jose Lethario. Sort of. Meanwhile Reigns faces Randy Orton in what actually turned out to be the slightly better match.

Of course, as I type this I’m acutely aware of the integral part that all three men were to Sunday’s show in Santa Clara: Roman Reigns, to some extent, started to hold his own in the WrestleMania main event against WWE’s toughest, Brock Lesnar. Dean Ambrose took the most horrific bump through a ladder in the Intercontinental Championship match. Seth Rollins cashed in and won, closing out the show as the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

Even after The Shield have ‘destructed’, the sum of their parts are still the most dominant force in WWE. So, what better time to release a DVD looking at their trajectory thus far. Kudos to you WWE, kudos.