The 20 minute “match” involving The Shield at WWE's TLC was a great showing of understanding what to and not to do with something that has so much potential.
The fact that I am labeling it as a “match” with quotations around it is the first big point. I was hoping I wouldn't see two members of The Shield standing on the apron holding the tag rope. It's TLC. Anything goes, no disqualification.
It might sound obvious: This needed to be a fight. But WWE has given us reason in the past to downgrade the value of obvious.
It started with the entrance. It makes sense The Shield gets music. They are, after all, acknowledged wrestlers in WWE and the developmental territory.
This is something that bothered me about July 1996 Bash at the Beach. Hall and Nash come out for their famous first match and have music. Why do they have music? They are suppose to be from WWE. They are “The Outsiders.” Music didn't make or break the belief but its a little thing when keeping the anarchy as believable as possible.
The Shield comes out with music but they come out through the crowd. This is good. Everyone else who comes out from the entrance way is understood to be part of the “locker room.” They are in theory taking orders from a GM or some authority figure.
The Shield doesn't get ready with the other roster members or take orders. That's why it makes sense for them to hold the camera for their own promos. They don't want or need a WWE cameraman alone with them.
All of this upholds the outlaw presentation.
The fight ensued right at the barricade with Ryback and Team Hell No. You didn't see tradition professional wrestling “work” punches thrown. Specifically to the credit of Dean Ambrose, you saw him just swinging wildly at his opponents' bodies and fist slapping off of flesh. It felt and looked like a real brawl.
The psychology was appropriate. Every time a member of The Shield would be getting physically taken to task, another member of The Shield was never far behind to come help give the numbers advantage. A very gang-organized and loyal showing. The commentary team did a great job pointing out that The Shield works better as a unit then Daniel Bryan, Kane and Ryback together.
Even the way WWE shot the match was fitting to the “match.” The ringside handheld cameras weren't as steady as normal; they were moving around a lot. The cameraman acted appropriate to the environment. He was trying to film this fight, didn't know where to look and was concerned for his safety.
While a cameraman is technically in danger during a match between Dolph Ziggler and John Cena, those are two guys “under control.” They dress in the locker room. They aren't outlaws. They are WWE Superstars. The cameraman is supposed to stay steady and present television with top notch technical skill and value. When he's out there with guys who aren't under control and carry chaos in their pockets like The Shield―he fears for his safety.
I wanted The Shield to look strong in their pay-per-view “match” debut but was also concerned for Ryback. This new top face who has yet to win on pay-per-view since entering the main even status in October. Ryback's team lost, Ryback didn't get pinned and he didn't look weak.
It couldn't have been booked any better for The Shield and Ryback respectively.
So far, WWE is batting a thousand with The Shield. The debut, the first promo, the promos after that. Their weekly appearances causing chaos in the ring. The buzz they've created among the fans. All positive.
In the past we've seen WWE creative and decision makers take something interesting with potential and hurt it by rushing it, dragging it out or just not being logical. So far, The Shield has not let that happen. I'm starting to think they really are fighting injustices in WWE.