And all of this wasn’t really surprising for me. Despite all my speculation during the last few reviews I was pretty sure that Seth Rollins would retain his title, The Shield wouldn’t re-unite and no-one would turn heel. Anything else would have been highly surprising and illogical for a Fatal-4-Way match. And now for a detailed report on this match plus a few thoughts on the forthcoming RAW.
Prologue: Shades of change
The main event of Payback started with a little four-minute vignette of storyline history that led to this Fatal-4-Way. One main focus was Kane who appeared like a thorn in Seth Rollins’ backside. And right before the match Kane met up with Rollins and J&J Security to wish him “good luck” with a smug grin into his face. So, Kane would be at ringside, still hadn’t make a decision who would get his help if needed but looked much like a man of change. And these kind of teasers are never a good sign. At least for a Pay-Per-View when the main focus is on as much viewers as possible.
Shades of The Shield – thankfully not for too long
It won’t come with no surprise that I’m not a huge fan of all that Shield reunion talk. Fangirls were crying and dieing about that Triple Powerbomb. But for me it was just cringy to see. Storyline wise it made no sense whatsoever. But after Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns made it clear to Seth Rollins that he won’t get another two lapdogs, it could be explained as “just let’s make a little fun of Seth Rollins; let’s make him think that we forgave him” – and WWE maybe did this to give the fangirls at least something. Not a very wise decision for my liking. Because now the fangirls want even more. Give them the little finger; now they want the whole Shield. But people seem to forget that still Roman Reigns is the chosen golden boy and is still built to create more chants for him than against him. So reuniting The Shield would be some kind of surrender to the fact that Roman Reigns will never be the undisputed face of the company.
It’s also baffling to me that people want to forget about Seth Rollins’ betrayal who broke up The Shield in the first place. And now he almost appeared like he would be glad to have it back. But Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns haven’t forgotten, so this Shield reunion wasn’t durable.
Also, for a Fatal-4-Way match there wasn’t enough heat between all four competitors. Either make Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns form a tag team (obviously I wouldn’t like it that much) or give them more reason to be just a bit angrier against each other for such a match. Yes, it’s about fun and showing great moves during a match basically but it’s still for a title, so I expect both of them go for it with just a little less love for their “brother”.
And then at the very end, when Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns finally went against each other, I wished that Reigns would have taken that smug grin out of his face. Yeah, commentary tried to explain it with “Reigns admires Ambrose because he survived just another pin by Reigns”. But for me it basically looked like, “look at this lunatic – he really thinks that he’s able to overcome the Superman”. Arrogant grin that has got nothing to do with love for his “brother” but amusement about Ambrose who takes a lot more punishment than needed to know that he can’t beat the Superman.
It’s also counterproductive for Reigns’ character, who is still supposed to be that lone wolf kind of guy, to alternately fanboy for Dean Ambrose (like he did when Ambrose made it clear to Rollins, that this Shield reunion wasn’t going to last long) and smug grinning arrogantly at him because… Superman. I haven’t seen Dean Ambrose out of character once during his matches. He’s always willing and able to tell a story from the first to the last bell ring. On the other side, Roman Reigns just doesn’t tell whole stories. He breaks out of them at a few points, when he’s proud of a certain move, he shows his pride – but most wrestlers do this, that’s not a huge mistake – then he likes to watch a few segments within a match like he’s just a spectator, not a competitor. Then it seems like he’s remembering a specific move sequence, so he’ll do it without decent built-up to it. And he’s just not good enough at believable selling. He can act beat up, there’s no doubt about it. But his change from almost dead to fresh like a young deer sometimes is just too sudden. You can act like fooling your opponent and then all of a sudden come to life as a surprise for your opponent and advantage for yourself. But that still has to look slightly believable for the audience.
Shades of Money In The Bank 2014
And to give a little break-down to the actual match: like almost every main event at a Pay-Per-View it had a decent length of 20:52 minutes. The early one-on-one fights happened to be between Rollins vs. Reigns and Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton. Of course, J&J Security were on ringside and they interfered from time to time but without much impact. Kane, of course, had the stronger spots and his interferences were more decisive for the outcome of this match. All in all Kane interfered thrice in this match. Once he chokeslammed Dean Ambrose onto the canvas. His most important interference happened after Dean Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds on Seth Rollins. That would have been the win for Ambrose but Kane grabbed one of Ambrose’s legs and pulled him out of the ring.
Once again Dean Ambrose had to take a lot during this match while Randy Orton wasn’t seen that much. At some point the action took place outside of the ring and after a little staring between all four men, Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns kicked down Orton to set him up for the Triple Powerbomb onto the announcers table of Michael Cole & Co. Then Ambrose and Reigns made it clear to Rollins that the reunion wouldn’t going to happen, so after a little beat-down Kane found himself Double Powerbombed onto Seth Rollins and the other announcers table – twice. Because the audience demanded, “one more time”.
After that Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns were the only two guys left, so they somehow decided to fight it out against each other inside the ring. A little stare down between the two was accompanied by “let’s go, Ambrose” chants. And finally both men went after each other. Now it happened what I’ve already written above: a smug grinning Reigns being all arrogant against an inferior Dean Ambrose. The final sequence happened like this:
- Reigns spears Ambrose – Rollins makes the save;
- Ambrose takes out Reigns with the lariat – Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds on Rollins – Kane makes the save;
- Orton hits RKO on Noble, Mercury and Kane – Rollins hits Pedigree on Orton for the win to retain his title.
Epilogue: Shades of no change at all
Changes were teased long before this Pay-Per-View and especially Kane looked like there could be a different outcome than the usual and expected one. In the end there was the usual and expected one. And even worse: Kane cost Dean Ambrose another win. He cost him the win at Money In The Bank 2014 and he now cost him the win for getting the WWE World Heavyweight championship. If Dean Ambrose isn’t mad about this fact and won’t address this tonight at RAW, I’ll be heavily disappointed. I’d also be quite interested to hear from Kane what actually made him help Seth Rollins in the end.
Now with all these interferences during the match, it could be another Fatal-4-Way match at Elimination Chamber in just two weeks. If WWE goes this route they should step up the tension between Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. Because in the end, there’s only one WWE World Heavyweight championship belt. This isn’t a tag team match, so there shouldn’t be that much “bromance” between them. For a start, I would kind of like it if they’d have to go against each other tonight on RAW. “Kind of like it” because Roman Reigns certainly would be made strong while Dean Ambrose would sell the hell out of his punches and moves. And since this is the RAW after a Pay-Per-View, there could be the heel turn that some people expected for last night. I still hope that Reigns joins The Authority. Wouldn’t make much sense for his character, a.k.a One Versus All – but when was the last time the WWE really made sense?