The Shield Attacking Kane Has Too Many Shades of Gray for WWE

David BixenspanFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2014

The Shield attacks Kane.
The Shield attacks Kane.Credit:

Last night on Monday Night Raw, in a somewhat surprising development, The Shield appeared to turn babyface.  I think.  The key words there are "appeared to."

What happened was that Kane came out and confronted Jerry Lawler, accusing him of using his local connections in Memphis to help Daniel Bryan set up "Occupy Raw."  Kane brought out The Shield to do his dirty work.  The three members of the group cornered Lawler. Seth Rollins menaced him on the house microphone and then ended his speech declaring that "The Shield always does what's best for business."  

However, after that, they turned around to stare Kane down and proceeded to lay him out with a beating that culminated with a triple powerbomb.

The crowd reaction to this segment was strange, to say the least.  Aside from the three-on-one aspect, it was booked like a babyface turn and reads like one on paper. But the crowd didn't buy into it that way, or at least it seemed that way.  While the three of them turning around to face Kane got a pretty big reaction, the crowd died from there, and by the time they powerbombed the Big Red Monster, they even got some boos.

If this was a babyface turn, why did the fans in San Antonio react that way?  This was one of the hottest acts in the company over the past year finally moving over to the side of the good guys!  Yet the crowd, in what's normally a hot wrestling city, was apathetic, almost bordering on rejecting the segment.

What happened here?  Were the fans in attendance into the turn until they started sympathizing with Kane being ganged up on?  Or was it not even a turn at all?  After all, The Shield ganging up on Kane was a heel move if you remove the context of the trio saving Lawler.

A few months ago in the December 30th issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (link is behind the subscribers' paywall), Dave Meltzer wrote that at a Creative meeting, Vince McMahon declared that there are no more babyfaces and heels.  Meaning, he thinks the line between good guys and bad guys should be much less clear, the way it is on regular television dramas.  He's felt this way for years because he feels nobody in real life is completely good or completely bad.

The problem is that when the writers choose to have wrestlers go back and forth without traditional pro wrestling-style turns, like The Miz did around that time, they flounder.  Pro wrestling fans have been conditioned to pro wrestling-style turns for too long for anything else to work without a slow re-education process.  It's not a terrible goal at all to want more nuances in wrestling storylines, but in the end, you still need something that largely resembles the traditional roles.

The Shield saving Jerry Lawler was good, but The Shield triple-teaming Kane was bad, at least in the moment.  It's too confusing.


David Bixenspan is also lead writer of Figure Four Weekly. Some of his work can be seen in Fighting Spirit Magazine.