WWE Week in Review, June 7: Seth Rollins Betrays the Shield, Batista Quits
To say it was one of the most historic weeks in modern WWE history would be an understatement, as the last seven days have been quite the roller coaster to say the least. With wrestling's summer season now underway, it'll be exciting to see what else is in store for WWE programming in the coming months.
Less than 24 hours after falling short to The Shield at Payback, dissension was in the ranks among Evolution when Batista quit the company at the start of Raw. What role will The Animal have when he inevitably returns down the line?
Later that night, Seth Rollins did the unthinkable when he aligned with Triple H after ambushing his Shield cohorts Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. What motivated Rollins to initiate the attack, and how will Ambrose and Reigns respond Monday night?
Bad News Barrett successfully defended his Intercontinental Championship on three separate occasions this past week. Who will be next in line to challenge him for his prestigious prize?
I will break down the week in wrestling by analyzing all of WWE's weekly programs and occasional pay-per-views, including each show's highlights, low points and other noteworthy, monumental moments. Also, I will give an award to the show and Superstar that shined the brightest over the course of the week.
Match of the Week: John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt: WWE Payback
Did you know? The John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt feud first began at January's Royal Rumble pay-per-view when The Wyatt Family cost Cena the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
As awesome as some of the segments involving these two have been over the last four months, many fans were hoping to finally see this rivalry reach its conclusion at Sunday's Payback event. After their last two matches bombed, it was unknown whether Cena and Wyatt were capable of having a good match together, but they silenced the critics with their fantastic Last Man Standing match in Chicago.
The two brawled back and forth for well over 20 minutes with Cena tossing the steel steps over the top rope at Wyatt at one point. Even the interference from Luke Harper and Erick Rowan and The Usos enhanced the action and added to the overall matchup.
Cena may have emerged victorious in the end, but Wyatt certainly proved his worth against the former multi-time world champ.
Superstar of the Week: Seth Rollins
The Shield shocked the world when they defeated Evolution for the first time at Extreme Rules, and they managed to repeat that same success against the former world champions at Payback in a No Holds Barred Elimination match to the surprise of many. The biggest shocker, however, came the next night on Raw when Seth Rollins betrayed Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, laying out his cohorts with a steel chair.
Rollins showed no remorse for his actions afterward or days later on SmackDown, the same show where he scored a hard-earned victory over Dolph Ziggler. Rollins' motives as to why he made a deal with the devil may not be clear as of now, but one thing is for sure: He has certainly captured the attention of the WWE Universe.
Show of the Week: WWE Payback
It was yet another unforgettable week in WWE with The Shield splitting up and Batista "quitting" the company, but one can argue that it all started with Sunday's stellar Payback pay-per-view. Many fans may not have been looking forward to the event going into it, but they certainly got their money's worth by the time it ended.
The show's two headlining matches, John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt in a Last Man Standing match and The Shield vs. Evolution in a No Holds Barred Elimination match, were both excellent. Even the event's undercard held its own with both of the midcard title matches entertaining the masses.
The night also saw Brie Bella give notice to Stephanie McMahon and slap one of the principal owners of WWE right across the face. Let's also not forget about the ever-awesome Chicago crowd that was electric from start to finish.
While Payback may not have been WWE's most exciting event in recent memory, it was extremely enjoyable and a precursor to what should be a great summer season.
This Week's Highlights
The Shield breakup
This moment is right up there with The Undertaker's WrestleMania streak ending as one of 2014's most shocking moments. No one saw it coming, and that's what made it so great. Dean Ambrose's facial reaction after Seth Rollins turned on Roman Reigns was priceless and made for a great visual. As a huge fan of The Shield, I will very much miss them as a unit, but I will be inclined to boo Rollins that much more for splitting them up.
This angle could very well end up being a "low point", but the moment itself was undoubtedly a highlight of what was a rather lackluster edition of Raw.
The Shield vs. Evolution
Their Extreme Rules match had the better action, but this match told the better story. It was given excellent time (some might say more than enough), and the intensity and physicality down the stretch was absolutely brutal. Everyone put forth a strong effort, and the clean sweep of Evolution was a pleasant surprise. It put over The Shield in a major way despite the fact they broke up less than 24 hours later.
Am I in the minority when I say that I have enjoyed every minute of Batista's most recent run with WWE and wouldn't at all consider it a flop? He made the most of a bad situation (winning the Royal Rumble six days after returning) and turned into one of WWE's best heels. He put over several talents and had some great matches, so I'm not sure what there's left to complain about. Batista "quitting" allows him to take time off for the foreseeable future so he can promote his upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Oh, and Batista's royal wave toward Triple H was laugh-out-loud funny.
Sheamus vs. Cesaro
This match was everything I expected it to be and more. Say what you will about his stale character, but Sheamus is a superb in-ring athlete and has had awesome matches with almost everyone on the roster, including Cesaro at Payback. The Swiss Superman looked strong in defeat and was protected via the roll-up from Sheamus. The action was very entertaining and had this viewer begging for more once it was over.
Brie Bella quits
Is everyone giving notices lately? Nevertheless, this was a clever twist to get out of Daniel Bryan having to surrender the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Payback, but it remains to be seen whether he'll be back in time for Money in the Bank in a few weeks. The true highlight of this segment was obviously when Brie slapped Stephanie McMahon across the face to one of the biggest pops of the night. A great moment.
Intercontinental Championship matches
All three (yes, three) of the Intercontinental Championship matches that were held this week were enjoyable and really made the belt feel like it mattered again. Rob Van Dam has been doing very good work since his return, and Bad News Barrett has been a star since after WrestleMania 30. If WWE can keep Barrett going on the right track, they have something special with him.
The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family
I lost track of how many times these two teams have worked against each other, but their matches are always entertaining, so no complaints. Their Raw encounter was no different, and it stood out above all the mediocrity on the show. The Wyatt Family winning also set them up for a tag team title match for later down the line.
This Week's Low Points
John Cena vs. Kane
After Cena easily disposed of Kane during their 2012 feud, viewers had no reason to believe Kane was any kind of threat to Cena on Raw this week. Not only that, their match wasn't all that good and the finish felt abrupt. After nearly ending the career of Daniel Bryan, Kane was quickly dismantled by Cena within minutes. Way to keep your top monster heel looking strong, WWE.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio
These two never fail to have a good match together, and I actually enjoyed their encounter from Raw. The biggest problem was that Del Rio won. I realize Ziggler can't win them all, but let's face it: Who do a majority of the fans care about more, Ziggler or Del Rio?
Del Rio has been irrelevant since late last year and hardly gets much of a reaction anymore, which is why it's a mystery to me how he was put in the Money in the Bank Ladder match over Ziggler. Ziggler would have made an excellent addition to the match and to not insert him was mind boggling.
Damien Sandow and Big Show
I realize many people in attendance thought this was hilarious and enjoyed it, but I, not being an NBA fan at all, wasn't aware of the joke being made and therefore didn't like the segment. Perhaps that's my own fault, but it's not even that. Sandow has been making the most of these impersonations, but it's been a complete waste of his time and talent over the last month. Did anyone notice that Big Show was even gone?
This segment was effective in garnering good heat for Rusev, but the fact it dragged on for as long as it did and didn't have a payoff felt pretty pointless. Rusev has impressed me since his debut, and he had a fun match against Big E at Payback, but I would have much rather seen a rematch between those two than this segment. They seem to be killing time with Rusev at the moment, and I surely hope the long-term plan isn't to feed him to Cena by the end of the summer.
Los Matadores vs. 3MB
Do I really need to explain why this match is in this column? While it wasn't as great as their WeeLC match from Extreme Rules, the Mask vs. Hair match between El Torito and Hornswoggle at Payback was fine for what it was. To continue the feud past that point is simply irritating. I know WWE has nothing else to do with either faction, but if that's the case, don't put them on TV at all! I have zero desire in seeing Los Matadores vs. 3MB in any incarnation going forward.
Paige vs. Alicia Fox
Their Payback match wasn't half-bad, but it simply paled in comparison to everything else on the show. Both are very good workers, but they aren't being allowed to have as solid of a match as they're capable of having together. It doesn't help that Fox has gone back to feeling like the flavor of the month now that she's lost the title match. Paige has the potential to be a strong Divas champion, but she needs to be booked in feuds that people actually care about and can invest in. This came days after the gem of a match between Charlotte and Natalya at NXT Takeover, so that overshadowed this bout a bit as well.
Rusev vs. Xavier Woods
Okay, we get it. Rusev is superior to Woods. I understood that the first time and still understand it a million matches later. Aren't there any other enhancement talents WWE can feed to Rusev? If nothing else, Woods dressing up in the red, white and blue brought back memories of his Consequences Creed days.
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Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.