If you’re a cynic, I’d imagine that you’re turning up your nose at the latest SHIELD reunion. “It’s just WWE trying to get Reigns cheered,” you might say.
And yeah. That might be part of it. Almost certainly is, actually. But from a story perspective of what the Shield was all about, this makes a hell of a lot of sense.
The Shield was always about their own success. The success of the group. What better time to reform than to protect their Intercontinental Championship and Universal Championship?
Roman Reigns was out to start show looking like the cat that got the canary. He was largely booed, but he clearly didn’t care. Instead, he offered Finn Balor a shot at his title, one who had deserved a Universal Championship match for literally years.
He’s just a Hound of Justice hounding for justice. Yessir.
Balor and Reigns main evented the show and they were fantastic. The fact that this match had commercial breaks is an absolute crime against humanity. They always tear it up together.
Strowman visited Balor in the locker room before the match and threatened an imminent cash in of his contract after the match, no matter who won. Demonless, Balor stepped in the ring and brought the big fight to the Big Dog.
It looked for a moment like Balor might win. When Strowman distracted Reigns, Balor was able to get the upper hand. However, he missed his Coup de Grace and walked into a Spear. I died a bit inside.
Strowman stormed the ring and was ready to cash in with the Brooklyn crowd screaming its approval when...you know.
Turns out even Strowman is no match for the Shield.
This was fantastic any way you slice it, both the match and the post-match shenanigans. It also acts as a cataclysm on Raw. If the Shield’s back, everyone needs backup. McIntyre and Ziggler need backup, Balor needs backup – hell, Strowman needs backup!
Consider this as well: Raw is a fresh roster now. Consider all the brand new six-man matches we’re gearing up for. I can’t wait.
(Also, Balor...how the hell do you not go Demon form for a freaking Universal Championship match?! They REALLY need to explain this better. Gaaaah!)
Oh, I like this Ambrose
You know, when someone returns from injury, we always ask the question of if they’ve changed their game up. You know, added moves, changed their look – that sort of thing.
...Has anyone ever changed as much as this version of Dean Ambrose?
We talked about the new look last week and it all still applies. Ambrose sheared off his locks, changed his clothes (I want those shoes, by the way. Can you hook me up, Renee Young?) and has mean mugged for a full week now. It’s all awesome, but it’s all superficial.
You know what isn’t superficial? Dean Ambrose is a guy who’s lived on this roster with a microphone in his hand.
He hasn’t held a microphone since his return. He hasn’t said even one word to the crowd.
Ambrose used to have fun in the ring, but those days are seemingly over. The dude’s doing mat work now! He also seems to have either lost all of his patience or control of his temper. For example, Dolph Ziggler gave Ambrose a bit of a shove on a rope break early in their match. Most guys would have a similar shove right back at the guy, right?
Not Ambrose. Ambrose lunged forward and put all his might into the shove, sending Ziggler to the mat and scowling over him. When McIntyre tried to interfere, Seth Rollins had to restrain Ambrose from ripping McIntyre’s face off.
The new character work is so damn intriguing, especially considering the possibilities in play. WWE also made sure that you remembered how brilliant Ambrose is with this match, especially when he and Rollins are working in tandem and flying all over the ring.
The finish came when Rollins stormed into the ring to hit a suicide dive on McIntyre. Ziggler tried to use the distraction to hit a DDT, but Ambrose tossed him up into the air and hit Dirty Deeds for the victory. It felt inevitable considering Ambrose’s new groove, so to speak. Before this match even began, Corey Graves called Ambrose “as loyal as any man on the face of the earth.”
It felt like ominous foreshadowing to me at first. But with the end of the show, who even knows?
Broken arm? Try a broken division
Was this Rousey coronation meant to be a celebration, or just highlight for how poorly Raw’s women’s division has been handled?
Stephanie McMahon created this whole circus to try to take credit for Ronda Rousey’s success as her mentor. The entire women’s locker room was at ringside with Steph in the ring, lecturing us all with the title beside her.
Can we stop talking about this division and how “historic” it is, please? The simple truth is that Rousey’s the only one benefiting from her situation at the moment. And for what’s supposed to be a “revolution,” that’s disgraceful.
It took Rousey giving Nattie a shout out to give her the ovation that she deserves. Rousey didn’t call her “my best friend.” She called her the cornerstone.
Can we start acting like it?
Rousey gave another shout out to Bayley and Sasha Banks, earning them cheers that their own feud earlier in the show didn’t warrant. She called their match at NXT TakeOver the start of this whole thing.
Yeah. Look where they are now.
This segment just pissed me off and made me want better, you know? Rousey attacking Stephanie did nothing for me. And it’s not just the women, either. Raw’s tag team scene is a mess as well. Perhaps we should give these women and men better and put these dumb ceremonies and meaningless repeat matches to bed, hmm?
The Rest of the Show
Bobby Lashley def. Baron Corbin - To keep Corbin busy and out of Balor and Reigns’ business, Angle booked him in an opening match with Lashley. Crowd wasn’t much into it, but the match itself was fine. I liked the fact that Angle threw one of the biggest guys on Raw’s roster at Corbin after he’s been such a brat about picking on Balor’s.
And then he had the gall to threaten Angle for picking on him by running to his mommy Stephanie McMahon! Man, Corbin’s the worst. They need to work on giving Lashley something to do as well. Considering the article analyzing Raw’s roster that Geno put together, perhaps a heel turn?
Forget about it – My goodness, Angle grew a backbone! Paul Heyman sidled into Angle’s office to let him know that Lesnar wants his rematch.
...Welp. Good luck. According to Angle, that ain’t happening for a long, long time.
The Riott Squad def. Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Ember Moon – I feel like I’ve seen this match every single week since WrestleMania. The matches are fine, but nothing ever happens of note to further a storyline. Ruby or no Ruby, this feud and story is stale.
End of an Era – Triple H had a promo to promote his upcoming match against the Undertaker in Australia. It was fine for what it was. They didn’t really need to sell me though, you know? It’s Taker. I’m watching.
Elias def. Curt Hawkins – Aw man. I was rooting so hard for Hawkins here! And yes, I get the fact that a win would screw up his whole schtick, but still!
Elias is in a weird spot at the moment. But he’s still getting all the heat in the world. Props to Hawkins for being great as well.
The Authors of Pain def. Titus Worldwide – Hmm. The Apollo/Dana Brooke interaction was interesting. Well, that was the only interesting thing about this one. Call it a hunch, but I think Apollo and Brooke are gearing up to turn heel on Titus O’Neil.
Scott Dawson def. Bo Dallas – This B Team stuff is just not for me. At all. Brooklyn apparently agrees; they did the wave.
Dawson’s finisher was sick, though!
Dash Wilder def. Curtis Axel – This happened right after the former match. Second verse same as the first. Wilder’s finisher was cool too! None of this had any heat. That B Team chant can crawl in a hole and die, too.
A New GM – All the villains were thwarted at SummerSlam – and on Raw, in Steph’s case – but they’re recovering quickly. Stephanie declared at the end of Raw that she was enforcing a mandatory vacation on Angle. Constable Corbin is now the acting General Manager of Monday Night Raw.
This show was basically terrible except for two matches, but those two matches were stellar. And I can’t give too bad a grade to a show that features a Shield reunion, can I?
I’m already booking Balor with the Authors of Pain in my head, by the way. Who should team up to crack the Shield, Cageside?