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Well, These Guys Are Interesting
Wrestling is something I've always seen as a bit of a guilty pleasure. It was that one thing, that little quirk I could never fully explain exactly why I was so into it. Well, I couldn't explain it then. I can easily explain it now. Wrestling, at its best, is one of the most unique forms of storytelling around.
When done right, a wrestling angle pulls you in and refuses to let go, and even when you know it's scripted, for a few moments you forget that, and you find yourself pulling for what is essentially just another guy trying to reach a goal, good or bad. Hell, back during the Attitude Era I found myself pulling for HHH, if only because I knew a Hunter win would lead to more interesting stories down the road. When it comes down to it, I tend to lead towards heels, because they're just more interesting to me.
Like a lot of older fans, I eventually fell out of wrestling. You've heard all these excuses for why before. The characters aren't interesting, the ring work isn't as good as it was (this one is an excuse that we Attitude Era guys may need to let go of before long. Yeah, the main event guys were almost always spot on, but there's plenty of mediocre matches from that time period), I've just outgrown it. It would take some really great workers to pull me back in.
Turns out, I would get four.
There's not much more to be said about CM Punk. He's a terrific worker, knows how to tell a story, in or out of the ring, and he's made wrestling interesting again. This post isn't about him, though. It's about three other guys who have very little left to be said about them.
The first time I watched a Shield promo video, I instantly converted into a twelve-year-old mark. These were characters. This was an interesting angle that I could get invested in. Slowly but surely since their debut, I've slowly found myself becoming more and more invested in a product that I had successfully ignored for years.
After hearing so many people talk about their incredible match at TLC at the end of 2012, I immediately scoured the internet to find it. I then proceeded to watch it five times in a row. I was hooked.
Don't GTV This
One of the biggest hooks regarding The Shield (besides whatever it was that made these three men who looked like pub brawlers completely attractive to the opposite sex) was the question of who their leader was.
Now, in a perfect world, we would all just accept that these three were on this quest on their own, brought in from the indies simply to shake up the status quo and start moving the WWE into the next era, a land of ice cream bars and talent and fresh faces hungry to reach the top.
As anyone who is currently not sitting in a penthouse receiving some sort of pleasure from Kate Upton (or to fit with this site better, AJ Lee or Kaitlyn) can attest, this is not a perfect world. At one point there seemed to be a theory regarding The Shield's leader for every mangled storyline that WWE Creative tried to shove down our throats over a laborious three hours every Monday night.
Perhaps it was Paul Heyman, a man always at odds with the WWE Brass, or maybe even Punk himself, a sort of resurrection of the Straight Edge Society that would usher in the new era of the company that had unwittingly been promised to those of us two years back during the original Pipe Bomb.
As we drift ever closer to another WrestleMania, there are still those trying to sell the idea of it being John Cena all along, that his long overdue heel turn would somehow involve Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns. While that particular theory has more holes than, well, most recent storylines, there's no denying that it's an angle I would completely mark out over.
For the first few months after The Shield started triple powerbombing the very people that had driven me away from WWE in the first place, I never felt they needed a leader. For some reason though, I've recently started to ask myself the question that everyone else has been asking since the end of last year: Who is leading The Shield?
Most theories tend to lead towards the theorist's own preference of how they want the angle to go. As I thought more and more about it, I eventually landed on my own theory.
The Leader of the Shield
Now, maybe I'm not the first person to come up with this idea... knowing wrestling fans and the internet in general, I highly doubt I am. A few days ago, a name of one of my favorite wrestlers from the Good Old Days popped into my head, and the more and more I thought about it, the more it seemed to fit just right in my mind.
The Shield's stated purpose from the beginning has been to take down those who receive unfair booking; those selected few who were handpicked by management to be the faces of the company, regardless of if they really deserved to be there or not. If such a group would have a leader, it should be someone burned by this very system.
That certainly leaves out Cena, the biggest recipient of said management preference. It leaves out The Rock, who would never need three guys to help put him over, even if Fast And Furious decided to go back to Tokyo to battle a resurrected Scorpion King. Heyman seemed logical, but he was latched onto CM Punk, who two years ago would have fit the bill.
Let's be honest: after holding onto the WWE Title for over a year, even with getting it yanked from you to give to a guy well past his prime, so he can pass it on to another guy well past his prime; you're still not going to complain about your booking status too much. Even Daniel Bryan (my first inclination for possible leader) has made his way into a pretty sizeable spotlight on the mid card, and Dolph Ziggler doesn't need any assistance selling anything.
It needed to be someone burned, and burned hard.
Who, in just the past couple of years, was given a shot at being at the top of the WWE heap, only to have it given right back to a much younger superstar? Who had given their life and their body to the business for over ten years and never even got recognized for it, outside of a ridiculously short title reign that has pretty much been rendered meaningless since?
If such a man exists, what could make him even more prone to bringing in a group like The Shield to enact his revenge?
Well, let's think about this for a minute.
One of The Shield's more recent targets has been Randy Orton (many believe this is because Orton had nothing else to do besides sit in a tanning booth for longer than most people work their day job). Is there anyone in the past two years that started to finally get put over in a major way, only to have that rise given right over to Orton, who's been in that spotlight for years with nowhere near the level of experience of the other superstar?
Huh, what do you know? There is.
The Leader of the Shield
It's pretty much settled at this point that The Shield will be facing Sheamus, Big Show, and Orton at WrestleMania. There's been a lot of speculation around how such a match would end. Let me add to it (while also finally getting to my point in all this).
The Shield dominates through the entire match. After triple powerbombing Sheamus, Rollins grabs a chair and wails on Show, earning a DQ. The three don't even seem to notice, as they continue to take out the biggest man in the business with anything and everything they can find.
Once Show goes down, they turn their attention to Orton. They tie him up with the ring ropes and begin pummeling away (think what DX did to Austin way back when -- before WrestleMania XIV).
All the sudden, a man begins to walk down to the ring wearing a ski mask.
As Orton struggles to break free, Ambrose goes to hit him with a chair. The masked figure places a hand on Ambrose's shoulder to stop him. The masked man gets right in Orton's face and slaps him a couple times. He is then handed a mic and explains how Orton had taken everything from him, and that he would no longer sit by as he and others like him took the top spots for the more deserving.
He removes the mask and there stands Christian, a man who was finally given a top spot only to have it taken away after two days (we can ignore his close to a month-long reign shortly after, because at this point, it's still an angle with more thought put into it than I think Creative has invested).
He then lifts the chair and bashes Orton's head in. The four walk out as their challengers are left broken in the ring.
Now that's a return.
What do you all think? Would that be a rewarding payoff to one of WWE's better story arcs? Or, have I just grown delusional from watching too many Cena matches?