I just watched this video on YouTube. It was a triple threat match from FCW (WWE’s developmental system, since renamed NXT) two years ago, featuring the three competitors that I’ve named in the title. The winner would receive a shot at the FCW championship the following week. My primary thought after watching it? It was very interesting.
From what I could gather, Ambrose was in a feud with William Regal at the time, who just happens to be on commentary. Actually, that’s pretty obvious. As the match gets underway, Ambrose has some words for Regal that I couldn’t quite make out, before that exchange was quickly cut short by Reigns – under the moniker “Leakee”. His feud with Regal wasn’t forgotten though, as he taunted Regal by using his moves throughout – he put Reigns in the Regal stretch and hit Rollins with a running knee. It was a very clever way of furthering the feud without any direct interaction between Ambrose and Regal as such, and it impressed me. We all know that Ambrose is good on the mic, but it can often be little things in the ring that pushes someone past that level to greatness, and what you see from him during this match are excellent examples of that.
In fact, why not talk about Regal too. As a commentator he is damn good – and this was three years ago, he’s only gotten better since. Obviously since he is in a feud with Ambrose a lot of his attention is focused on him, but that doesn’t mean he ignores the match. And actually, when he does talk about Ambrose outwith the context of what we are seeing in the ring, he is putting Ambrose over big time. He talks about how Ambrose is cut from the same cloth as Regal, how he’ll thrive on it, and one line really stood out to me: “he’s going to be my downfall, there’s no doubt about that”. That is somebody openly saying that someone else is better than them, which in the world of WWE is huge. It’s even bigger when it’s a respected veteran who is saying it about a young upstart. Regal pointing out similarities between himself and Ambrose only serves to make Ambrose more legitimate in the viewers’ eyes, and it’s something that doesn’t happen often enough on TV nowadays. Regal deserves a commentary spot on TV, but since there’s no sign of anything changing on Raw soon you would think that if it did happen it would be on Smackdown.
Seth Rollins was being positioned as a top guy in FCW, having had some top quality matches in the year preceding this match – he was the first FCW 15 Champion, where matches were contested under 15-minute Iron Man match rules – and had an apparently epic feud with Dean Ambrose the previous summer. Indeed, although he didn’t earn a title shot here, he would become FCW Champion in a matter of weeks. What struck me from this match – hopefully without sounding cocky – was that I am right about him. He is a natural high-flyer, a babyface, with a high-impact and high-risk arsenal of moves. Plus he can sell. He is so athletic that he can sell really well – maybe not quite at the Dolph Ziggler level, but far and away the best seller in this match. He also seems to have an innate ability to connect with the fans, which is always key to success in the WWE. He is arguably the least obvious choice out of the three to be a main eventer on the main roster, but it really wouldn’t surprise me if he made it to the very top of the company.
And now for Roman Reigns, or as he was known here Leakee. Firstly, what an awful name that is. Secondly, the thing that really stood out to me here was that he wasn’t all that impressive in his offence. I would put that down to inexperience more than anything, as he had only been wrestling for 15 months at this point. There was only one big spot from him in the match – the double samoan drop on both Ambrose and Rollins at the same time. He didn’t have the spear yet, he didn’t have the powerbomb, he didn’t have the superman punch, he didn’t have that awesome dropkick on the apron. What he did have though, was more agility than I have seen on the main roster. He has been portrayed as very much the power guy in the Shield, but he was capable of a picture perfect kip-up at the start of the match. That’s not something most power guys are able to do – that’s why they’re power guys. But even though there wasn’t all that much in the ring that made me say “this guy’s gonna be huge”, the way the match was booked showed that there were big plans for him. He was protected. When he was selling, most of the time it was from double teams, and Ambrose and Rollins worked together for about a third of the match against Reigns. Considering Ambrose and Rollins had feuded and were apparently great enemies at this point, that shows just how much of a threat Reigns was pushed as. Regal emphasised his potential after the match, by guaranteeing that Reigns was a future World Champion. That guarantee looks very well founded right now.
This was very interesting to see how these three have developed. To be honest, I don’t think Rollins has added much to his game since then, but he seemed to be at the very top of FCW anyway, and an extra couple of years of experience can do nothing but good for him. He was set even in February 2012 to be a big player in years to come, and that is still exactly where I see him now. It’s difficult to judge Ambrose on this, since he seemed very much involved in a feud outside this match, and so furthering that feud took up a lot of what he did, but it’s clear to see he is a smart heel in the ring just as much as he is good on the mic. And Roman Reigns I – and I think most wrestling fans – are really impressed with. He looks to have come a very long way in just two years, and with the physique and wrestling heritage he possesses, will be the face of the WWE in years to come.
This was just a match I came across, and immediately felt the urge to write about. I think it ties in well with today’s picture of the Shield, considering it looks like these three are about to go their separate ways again, and it shows just how important their stable has been for each man involved.
As always, I’m interested in what you guys have to say too. Was I too harsh or lenient on these guys? Should William Regal be commentating on WWE TV in the near future? And who is your favourite member of the Shield? Let us know by either commenting below or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and don’t forget to share us on the various social media below! Speaking of social media, we’re now on Facebook, so you can like us there and join in discussions there too! Next up I think will be the Elimination Chamber predictions at the weekend, unless I stumble across something else I have an immediate urge to write about!