Sierra, Hotel, India, Echo, Lima, Delta.
With those six words, the WWE heralded in a new faction the likes of which most of its youthful core demographic would never have seen before. For the better part of a year and a half, The Shield ran roughshod through the WWE. No Superstar was safe from their unique brand of justice, dished out, as it was, with great vengeance and furious anger.
Before he surprised the world at Wrestlemania 31, cashing in his Money in The Bank briefcase and winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, he was Seth Rollins. The Architect of the Shield.
Before he was pushed as the Lunatic Fringe, mired in the mid card shuffle, he was Dean Ambrose of The Shield.
Before he was forced down the Universe’s throat to be perceived as the new untouchable, golden child, Superman, he was the somewhat silent powerhouse Roman Reigns of The Shield.
Together they banded together to create an entity that, at the time, was better than any of its individual parts, and the proof exists within the year and a half that they tore up the WWE roster, consistently performing in top rate matches against high profile opponents such as Evolution, Team Hell No and a cavalcade of others. There are so many truly enjoyable matches spread across the three disc set that it’s almost hard to believe that they were only around between November 2012 to June 2014 on the main roster. The work rate they were putting into the matches they were having demonstrated three guys who were willing to do anything to be noticed, and they soon were, draped in tag team championship, and US championship, gold within months of their debut.
The DVD does a great job in establishing who these three Superstars are as people. Since the sincerely open and enjoyable CM Punk: Best In The World documentary, the WWE have been hitting a stride in releasing engaging docs that allow us as a fanbase to peak behind the curtain that is sports entertainment. We get to see these guys relaxed and in a more natural environment in quite a few scenes, and it allows for a unique view into the life of a team that was shot into the WWE stratosphere from the get go.
The bond they have together, born out of numerous matches against one another as they rose through the NXT ranks, is a joy to watch, doing what they clearly love to do and captured in a natural way via backstage interactions. The shots of them chilling out before or after a big match, relishing the moment of what they’ve just done are some of the most real moments on the DVD. Their motivations, beliefs and drive to succeed are well documented across the sets run time, bolstered all the more with an impressively comprehensive list of matches that showcase each individual talents abilities in singles matches during their NXT tenure, leading to an interesting (albeit limited) Triple Threat match between the soon to be Shield brothers.
The documentary follows a pretty linear progression, highlighting who The Shield were and what they accomplished, before breaking it down into sections, focusing on each individual member one at a time. This technique works quite nicely and gives each Shield member an opportunity to have their time to connect their story with the viewer. What’s less enjoyable during these segments are the opinions espoused throughout that only seem to have been recorded to reaffirm what the WWE wanted the fans to believe, no questions asked. Seth Rollins was the Architect of The Shield who believed he was meant for greater things when he wasn’t ready for them; Dean Ambrose was capable of putting on crazy matches whilst toeing the line of sanity, and Roman Reigns was the future Superman we all needed, we just didn't know it yet. Roman Reigns is the total package. Roman Reigns has the ‘It’ factor.
This biased pushing of their product as exactly that, a product, within a supposed documentary of captured truth creates an unfortunate air of contrivance that can’t be ignored. As soon as it hits the Reign’s segment of the DVD, the whole thing suddenly turns into a ‘make Roman look strong’ advert and is, unfortunately, diametrically opposite to the sincerity offered during the quiet backstage moments they managed to capture.
The release date of this DVD was no coincidence either, released during Wrestlemania season to capitalise on Roman’s rise since the Shield disbanded, thanks to Rollin’s surprising betrayal on his Hounds of Justice brothers. Smart marketing, coupled with heavy handed product pushing during what should be documented truth turns what could have been another insightful look behind the WWE curtain (ala the Punk DVD) into a product created to push another product, in this case the current iteration of Roman Reigns. Who lost, by the way, at Wrestlemania. He got pinned by Seth to allow Rollins the WWE World Heavyweight Championshp, winning it from Brock Lesnar.
Although enjoyable, the pandering of certain voices on this three disc set adhering too strictly to a clear WWE, pro Roman, agenda mires it mediocrity. By all means, mention how you believe he may be the next big Superstar, or has that oddly definable ‘It’ factor, but please, WWE, don’t hammer it home time and time again, akin to a Triple H sledgehammer shot to the head. It’s not needed. You want us to like him, we get it. Unfortunately, using this as a platform to further push him instead turns what was, up until that portion, a well handled look into the lives of these guys post-Shield, into a manupilative, long, advert for Mr. Superman Punch, Roman Reigns.
The only saving grace for this, undoubtedly, are the matches featured across the set. A comprehensive catalogue of matches from early NXT all the way to their debut and beyond up until, and past, the fallout of the break up, the match listings on this DVD are enough to pick up this set, and give it another star in this review, in the way that it charts each members growth from NXT Rookie to their current status within the company.
As it stands:
Seth Rollins is the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns are both scheduled to compete in the fatal four way championship match at WWE Payback this Sunday, alongside Randy Orton.
Apart from some slight flailing in the mid card/upper mid card for Dean Ambrose, this has got to be one of the first major splits that the WWE have managed to handle with success for all members. No body has really become the Marty Jannetty to the others Shawn Michaels in this equation, which provided the WWE with some much needed star power, as well as being genuinely refreshing from a fan’s point of view.
Given the amount of amazing matches The Shield had during their short run in the WWE, it truly seems a shame to have split them apart as quickly as they did. There certainly seemed to be a lot more milage left in The Shield concept that we’ll never get to witness. Still, with three solid singles competitors now slotted into the roster, it allows the WWE a lot more opportunities to play around with storylines using each one of these ex-Shield members against one another, or against any other number of main event (or upper mid card) Superstars, injecting new life into a stagnating product. And who knows, if injustice were to rear its ugly head within the WWE again, it may just be enough of a call to arms for these feuding brothers, these Hounds Of Justice…
★★★☆☆ (Documentary) // ★★★★☆ (Extras and Bonus Matches)
WWE: The Destruction Of The Shield is available now.