Opinion: Why The Heel/Face Confusion Surrounding The Shield Reunion Works
If tonight's (August 27th) Monday Night Raw taught us anything, it's that unpredictability and confusion can be entertaining.
From the moment of The Shield's entrance music hitting at the end of last week's RAW there's been an air of confusion surrounding the status of The Hounds of Justice. Earlier in the night, all three were seemingly babyfaces. The sudden appearance of a baby face Braun Strowman at the end of Roman Reigns' title match against Finn Balor started to blur the lines a bit. The lines were erased entirely, however, when Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose came out in full-on Shield gear and helped Roman "take care" of his Monster Among Men problem. In footage shown online of the trio when RAW went off the air, however, they were seen celebrating and Dean Ambrose was shown fist bumping the fans in a very babyface move. Immediately discussion online among fans began; "Ok wait, so was that a heel turn for all three members of The Shield?"
Well, this week's episode did nothing to clarify that situation. If anything, it muddied the waters even more. All three members had heel opponents tonight. Early in the night Roman and Braun seemingly came to an agreement. Without interference from anyone else, the Monster and the Big Dog shook hands after agreeing that Braun would cash in his Money In The Bank contract at September's Hell In A Cell Pay-Per-View.
They were then forced to team up to face the very heel duo of Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre. Seth Rollins faced heel Kevin Owens in a stellar Intercontinental Championship Match. Dean Ambrose faced heel Jinder Mahal, though he did exhibit slightly heel-like tendencies and was praised by heel commentator Corey Graves throughout the match.
It was, however, the Reigns/Strowman pairing that was the true head-scratcher. Suddenly, baby face Braun Strowman turned on Roman, teaming up with Ziggler and McIntyre in a beatdown of Reigns. It was interesting that during said beatdown, Braun uttered his once constant catchphrase, "I'm not finished with you", something he hasn't done since turning face. First out with the assist was Ambrose, who quickly joined his brother in being flattened. Next out was Rollins, who was laid out in a similar fashion. Strowman then raised the hands of Ziggler & McIntyre to a chorus of boo's from the Toronto crowd, and everyone was left with a general feeling of "What on earth is going on? Who's the heel and who's the face here?"
To quote a friend of mine; "I am so confused. . . and I love it!" Long ago, this was the norm for WWE. Strange alliances, blurred lines, overlapping storylines & over-the-top characters. Frustrating as it may have become at times, it kept you tuning in each week to find out what was going to happen next. It also allowed for fans to truly choose who they wanted to side with, as no one was really pushed too far to one side.
A narrative was painted where both sides of the story could be seen and understood, and the fans were left to their own conclusions. This part of the magic of pro wrestling has been missing from WWE for entirely too long. Monotonous matches and relatively predictable feuds have frustrated fans looking for a bit of that old magic back. That old pro wrestling adage of "suspended reality" seemingly disappeared.
That is why I think this works. Confusing and unorthodox as it may be, that is exactly what wrestling should be. I have a feeling that lines will officially be drawn and a clearer picture of whether The Shield are heels or faces, will happen fairly soon. Especially with the upcoming 6-man tag match that was announced, where the trio will face the team of Strowman, Ziggler & McIntyre at the upcoming WWE Super Show-Down event in Australia, October 6th. To me, The Shield were enjoyable as a team as both heels and baby faces, and could even work staying somewhere down the middle as they seem to be now.
I can't see them splitting anytime soon as WWE seems far too invested in this reunion that was cut short when Dean Ambrose went down with a nasty tricep injury in December 2017, just two months after they had joined forces again. We now know we have them together until early October at the very earliest, and I can't see them ending the teaming after one feud and one 6-man tag match. Only time will tell. This wrestling fan is just happy to see some of that old magic back again.
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