It's been a little more than a month since Seth Rollins turned on Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, causing the split of The Shield, and all three are coming along nicely.
Roman Reigns is clearly being pushed as WWE's next big star. Monday night's Raw was an interesting test, as he got to do the show-opening in-ring promo for what I believe was the first time.
He's shown a lot of poise and promise in his speaking, but this was different from the quick promos he's done in the past. He sounded slightly stilted, but overall he was protected well in a solid segment that did a good job of advancing his issues with John Cena, Kane and Randy Orton.
On the booking front, it was easy to tell the segment was kept short to prevent Reigns from overextending himself, and on that front it was produced really well. Honestly, unless a long segment is absolutely necessary, WWE should do more of this type of segment to keep Raw from dragging, which is important for a three-hour show.
Also, I'm curious whether or not Reigns' "When Roman Reigns is in the house, you're damn right Cena sucks" line was planned. It wasn't exactly a surprise that the fans in Montreal would chant "Cena sucks," so it's possible he was given the line to use whenever they got started. If it was an ad lib, then it shows that he's coming along well in that department, too.
In the ring, Reigns is still fairly protected. This is where it gets dicier for Reigns; he can get away with shorter promos for a long time, but actual matches are different. As he matures into the headliner role, he's going to need to be in more main event singles matches, and it's not clear how up to that task he is.
Reigns looks like a great prospect in tag matches, multi-man matches or singles matches with guys like Daniel Bryan. Against more marginal talent, though, he's a question mark.
Ever since the disappointing singles match with Bray Wyatt the night after Elimination Chamber, Reigns has been carefully hidden. Neither guy is bad, but they had negative chemistry as singles wrestlers and neither was ready to carry his end of a main event match. Both guys can be half of a great match, but based on what they showed there, neither is a champion-level in-ring worker as of yet.
The chemistry of Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose is not in question, that's for sure. When The Shield first got together, the fear was that a great team would be held back by Reigns.
Thankfully, that fear was unfounded.
When Rollins turned heel, there was a lot of criticism. Some of it was about the broader angle, since The Shield as a unit still had legs as babyfaces and the breakup didn't really make sense. On top of that, if Reigns was getting the rocket strapped to him as a babyface, which he obviously was, then on paper Rollins was the obvious fellow babyface with Ambrose as the obvious heel who dumps them.
After all, Rollins was the high flyer, and while none of them are small guys, Rollins is the skinniest and works like a smaller wrestler. It didn't seem like it made sense for him to be a singles heel.
While Ambrose was surprising the wrestling world with just how great a babyface he was, he was in fact easily the most natural heel of the group. While the angle still hasn't been explained (and that's probably for the best), Rollins and Ambrose turned the expectations on their heads.
Rollins has tweaked his wrestling style really well so far. He's more aggressive, and he still has some of his flashy moves.
But he's taken his most crowd-pleasing spots out and wrestles like a true heel.
He's also shown no apparent desire to be a "cool heel," which is pretty important in light of WWE's current heel/babyface imbalance. He cowers when Ambrose and/or Reigns tries to get revenge, as well he should.
Ambrose has been the most pleasant surprise. He had become a great babyface with the best comeback in the business, but I don't think anyone expected him to do quite this well as a babyface singles wrestler. As good as everyone knew he was, as a singles heel he had a lot of off nights, especially in his U.S. title defenses, but the conventional wisdom was that he was born to be a heel.
As a babyface, Ambrose is amazing. His frenetic, reckless-looking style is unlike anyone else's, and it's helped him stand out from the pack. Though seeming at first like a potential burial, the switch from Shield gear to ripped jeans and a tank top has in fact made Ambrose stand out even more.
Somehow, even though the image he's cultivated is along the lines of "your sister's skeevy boyfriend," it's made him an even bigger babyface. The clothes are a perfect fit for a guy who looks like a perp on Cops trying to escape when he flings himself at heels.
I mean that all as a compliment, by the way.
The only question right now is what does WWE see as Ambrose's ceiling? Reigns and Rollins are on pretty clear paths, but right now, Ambrose is getting louder cheers than Reigns.
Can he outpace Reigns? I don't know, but it's going to be fun to find out.