(Belated) Top-Down Smackdown: Hunter’s Agent of Shield


Sometimes timing works in mysterious ways. So preoccupied was I yesterday that I neglected to do this column in its usual slot (sidenote: you know a column is getting over when people call you out on Twitter for missing it). But fate may have been working things out for me, because I was going to write about how unique it was that the top “face” of WWE right now was a three-man tag team where each member had equal stature, as opposed to a group like the original NWO (Hulk Hogan was clearly not a team guy) or even the Freebirds (Michael Hayes got all the charisma). I was going to wonder how long it could possibly last, since there’s a limit to the number of three-man teams you can push.

And it got answered real quick. Just like their namesakes on ABC, the Shield had a traitor on the inside, and it was the one we had least suspected would break from the other two. Be honest: you thought that either Reigns would become a solo hero or Ambrose a solo villain, right? Rollins joining Randy Orton may have been a swerve done primarily because it was the last one expected – or the result of the numbers game caused by Batista going on hiatus – but so far it works.

I presume Ambrose and Reigns will continue to call themselves the Shield, simply because there’s money to be made in their merchandise still, even if it now has to feature two dogs instead of one. Rollins is in an interesting position, because he was just starting to get a reputation as the guy who does crazy bumps at every pay-per-view – something only a good guy can really get away with. I don’t see them radically changing his style, so if the idea is to actually get him over as a villain, he’ll need to start incorporating illegal weapons and cheats into his hardcore moves.

Unless…I don’t want to think down this road, but I could easily see them doing an angle like Daniel Bryan and the Wyatt family, where Rollins pretends to be bad for a couple of weeks, then turns out to have been infiltrating the authority the whole time. Regardless, it’s going to be weird seeing him in regular tights.

While we’re on the topic of three-man teams, I really think Heath Slater ought to get a wrestler of the year award for rolling with every ridiculous thing he’s handed, and finally semi-getting over as part of a feud between a little person who pretends to be a mutant bull-man, and another little person who’s a glam-rock leprechaun. At least when Santino does comedy, people cheer him. Slater does comedy as the unlikable straight-man, and it works. Consider that two years ago, you’d have sworn Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre would have brighter futures than him, and now he’s the only one that really commits to the angle. Give the guy a bump up – El Torito only needs two guys in his corner, so Hornswoggle can do likewise.

And does the fact that Harper and Rowan are now making a tag team title run mean that John Cena and the Usos will no longer be teamed up? The booking logic now seems to be that maybe if you have Cena attach himself like a parasite to somebody the fans like, they’ll finally cheer him too – and so, following the Uso combo, he appoints himself spokesperson for Daniel Bryan, which nobody wants. Creative, however, knows that Stephanie McMahon will never play anything but a heel role, and thus her opponents get cheers by default. Is it enough to get Cena in the fans’ good graces? Doubtful. I’d ask where they’re going with this storyline, but I think it’s pretty clear the answer is nowhere – just as Bryan was plugged into CM Punk’s story, Cena is now plugged into Bryan’s, but at least we know that this time, the better competitor will return.

Sound off on Raw, Payback, or anything else wrestling-related in comments below.