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ROMAN REIGNS IS THE GREATEST PRO WRESTLER TO EVER PRO WRESTLE, and other things I learned watching The Shield special on WWE Network

WWE Network

Last night, WWE Network debuted their Journey to SummerSlam: The Destruction of The Shield original special.  Subscribers can find it under Shows > Originals > Specials on the over-the-top service.

If you watched its predecessor, Journey to WrestleMania 30: Daniel Bryan (and if you haven't...what's wrong with you?), you know what you're in for - the usual high production values associated with all WWE video packages and a very 'Reality Era' blend of work and shoot that provides glimpses of the future based on the way the past is turned into kayfabe history.

This isn't so much a review of the show - TL; DR: I loved it and think every WWE fan will too - but a quick rundown of several things that jumped out at me or really piqued my interest while watching.

First and foremost, WWE is pretty high on this Roman Reigns kid.

It seems to be de rigueur for internet wrestling community (IWC) members to dog the Big Dog these days.  He can't talk.  He only has three-to-five moves.  He doesn't understand psychology.  He's being pushed too fast.  His cardio sucks.  His merch has Spider-man logos on it.

All of these things have some truth to them.  But make no mistake, the WWE machine is behind him, and many within the company are counting on him to take them into the future...meaning they will do anything they can to make sure he succeeds.

Over the course of sixty minutes, Triple H, John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Michael Hayes, John Laurinaitis and Joey Mercury proclaim him to be a special talent.  Paul Heyman calls him a future WWE Champion and a future Hall of Famer.

Reigns himself says things that will enrage his smark critics - especially "I don't focus on moves, I focus on reactions".  If you want a Daniel Bryan or Seth Rollins type to be the face of the company, he's not going to be your guy.

While the backstory for Rollins and Dean Ambrose focuses on their time with independent promotions and their rivalry in developmental, Roman's story is about family and football.  As much time is dedicated his collegiate football coach talking about what a leader he is and footage of him playing with his daughter as is spent on his time in FCW.  If you want an edgy character like CM Punk or Dean Ambrose to be the face of the company, he's not going to be your guy.

But look at the discussion that is already swirling around him.  Live crowds seem to throw a lot more love his way than the internet does.  He has his supporters online, and that leads to heated debate with his detractors.

Remind you of anyone?

The top Superstar may never be a universally loved and admired figure like Bruno Sammartino or Hulk Hogan ever again.  Every "face of the company" guy moving forward in the instantly reacting social media 21st century may get the John Cena 50/50 reaction.  As long as he gets a reaction.

Reigns may flop in the long run.  WWE has pushed guys before who never quite got over with the fans.  But he's going to get the next couple of years to develop and grow into that guy.  If Creative can course correct along with his advancement and crowd reaction - and reminding us of his connection to the massively over Hounds of Justice and returning his story to that one by having him go after Seth Rollins would be a good way to start - Heyman might be right.

We're going to find out, one way or the other.  If this Special is any indication, they're not backing down from his push any time soon.

Other thoughts:

  • Man, Seth Rollins is second only to Triple H at 'Reality Era' interviews.  I first noticed in it the Xfinity piece from last week, but this show confirms it.  He can make you relate to his friendships with Bryan, Ambrose and Sami Zayn, understand why he would strike out on his own from The Shield and want to punch him in the face for his arrogance from within the same character and presentation.  I'm left wondering how much of his supposed beef with Terry Taylor is a work to establish his heel ties to The Game and how much is genuine animosity.
  • From what I've heard and read of Ring of Honor (ROH) history, there's some truth to it, but it's still shocking that this guy is now enshrined in WWE history as the man who discovered Seth Rollins:
  • Gabe_zpsf3972a14_medium

  • How openly WWE embraces ROH, CZW, DragonGate/Evolve, other indys and the international scene is one of my favorite things about NXT, the 'Reality Era' and Triple H's influence.  And I love a lot of things about NXT, the 'Reality Era' and Triple H's influence.
  • This is bad news for anyone hoping that ROH will rise up and take TNA's place as the #2 competitor to WWE, though.  Sinclair Broadcasting has clearly accepted their role as supporting player in WWE's drama.
  • Rumors are floating around that WWE doesn't see Dean Ambrose as a "main event player", whatever that means.  In general and based on this Special, I think it's more that (1) they're not quite sure what to do with him because they've never had a talent like him before and (2) he's proven to have a better handle on his character and how to present it than anyone else, so they let him do that.  If anyone is going to get the post-3:16 Steve Austin or post-Anger Management D-Bry "we have no choice but to push him" push, it's Dean Ambrose.
  • Joey Mercury really is Hunter's right-hand man in talent development/relations, isn't he?

There's probably more - I think I spent the whole hour saying "interesting..." to my cats.  But I'm anxious to hear your thoughts, Cagesiders?

Surprised by the heavy sell for Roman Reigns?  Where do you fall on the Seth Rollins is really a hard-working wrestling fan / egotistical traitorous scumbag spectrum?  Should they really be letting Dean Ambrose wander off into the desert by himself?

Let's hear your take on Journey to SummerSlam: The Destruction of The Shield!

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