Kyler Murray was backed up in his own endzone and gifted the LA Rams the easiest of touchdowns.
The problem with getting everything you want in wrestling is it always begs the question: what next?
How times have we seen wrestlers get the perfect build, but when they finally get the grand moment we have all been waiting for their next step is off a kayfabe cliff to mediocrity?
An engaging story is built on conflict. Without it we quickly become uninterested and move onto something juicier.
And so while I absolutely loved the reunion of Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins and their perfect coronation as tag team champions, it almost wrapped up the story of these two former blood rivals with too neat of a bow. For three years they were the worst of enemies, so while getting them back together is a great development in their ongoing story, it removes the essential conflict from their relationship which was propelling their story.
It begs the question: what is next now all is rosy for the WWE’s greatest ever frenemies?
Reign as tag team champions
Just because they have stopped fighting with each other doesn’t mean they can’t fight with someone else. Unfortunately the hollowing out of the Raw tag team division and the untimely injury to The Revival has really hurt the potential for this option.
More than most face teams the abrasive duo of Ambrose and Rollins need an enemy to bang up against. In The Shield they were united by their mutual struggle against common foes, and that has not changed. One of the main reasons they got back together was because of their individual conflicts with the tag team champs.
Cesaro and Sheamus are providing good foil for them for No Mercy, and the feud could even last up to TLC in October. Unfortunately after that the tag team cupboard is pretty bare for Raw, though.
It would be interesting seeing The Shield take on The Hardys, but poor Team Extreme are getting less and less reaction every time they go out to the ring. Unless they are given the licence to ‘break’ things, a feud between the two teams honestly seems like a pretty bland story.
Health Slater and Ryno? Miztourage again? That is about it on the red brand. If only the Usos could have become the free agents instead of Cena.
The Revival really can’t get back soon enough. Their unity in ring and propensity to ruthlessly exploit their opponent’s weakness would be the perfect opposition for the former Shield brothers. After grabbing 2016 by the balls The Revival have missed two big opportunities with injury this year. Hopefully a feud with Rollins and Ambrose won’t be a third case of what if.
Of course the popular choice is to get the band back together, and it isn’t an argument without merit. They were one of the hottest teams ever. They came into the product like a shot of adrenaline, had insane in-ring chemistry together and split up right at the peak of their powers.
No-one ever got the chance to write a column about how they were going stale and there was no opportunity to see them struggle once they had no-one left to beat because the minute they hit their peak they moved the story on.
This perfect storm has left many sitting in the bleachers wanting more.
If they did get back together, the feelings of nostalgia would be a great boost to the show. The story of a Rollins and Ambrose triumphant reunion was the highlight of Summer Slam for many fans, so adding Reigns into the equation would only boost that good feeling. If the WWE is still serious about making Reigns into a beloved hero, putting him with Rollins and Ambrose is a natural move that could help get the crowd back on his side.
Survivor series is also just three PPVs away for Raw, and the Survivor series format would be a natural time for the brothers to get back together, even just for a once off.
But my question to those who want this to happen is: what will they get back together for? What is the purpose behind their reunion?
The trio originally formed together so they could fight their way up the ranks and use their teamwork to take out those who may have beaten them individually, but that mould of a rising team just doesn’t fit them anymore. All three have now stood at the top of the company as champion, all three could legitimately take the championship position and run with it without the help of the other two and there is no opposition that requires them to reunite together.
The reunion and progression of the Rollins-Ambrose story have been great, but that is because it has had a purpose: the resolving of their conflict. There is no conflict with Reigns and nothing coming up against them that requires his help, so there is just no purpose behind reuniting The Shield beyond the initial nostalgia.
I propose a different way forward.
Resistance from Reigns
As I said at the start, conflict is the lifeblood of a story, and what better way to introduce conflict than for Roman Reigns to choose to reject or even stand opposed to a united Ambrose and Rollins?
Since Rollins last teamed with Reigns a year ago the former muscle of the Shield has undergone a massive change in character. No longer is he positioning himself as an underdog or trying to get the fans behind him; instead, despite not winning a big match since Wrestlemania, he is arrogantly declaring that the ring is ‘his yard’ and that he is the locker room leader.
His change in character has been most evident in his matches with Braun Strowman. Where previously he would have accepted defeat with a cocky grin, maybe wryly quipping, “You got me this time”, now he has been unable to accept the fair result and resorted to blindside attacks and trying to cripple his opponent to get the upper hand.
This arrogant, cocky version of Reigns has no use for friends who will just make him look weak for needing help. For Reigns it is all about the reaction, good or bad, that he receives, and if you think he is getting a loud reaction now, just wait until he tells his former brothers, “This is my yard now, I didn’t need you to take it and I don’t need you to hold it”.
Turn on each other
I feel like people were calling this before Dean and Seth even reunited, but it is obvious why: as good as they are as friends, Seth and Dean are magic as enemies. However, in an era where fans crave instant gratification and want their predictions to come true next week, I would call for a slow burn with this development.
For me the proposed conflict with Reigns is what should lead to the ultimate fracturing of the now united Rollins and Ambrose. The rejection doesn’t have to happen straight away – it may not even happen until well into 2018, just before or after Wrestlemania.
Even though they are united now, Ambrose and Rollins are still very different men. Whereas Rollins does value friendship and loyalty, Ambrose bleeds brotherhood. Seth will do all he can to stay on the good side of Reigns and Ambrose – he may even try and play peacemaker, as he did in the Shield.
He is undoubtedly a changed man but still has a will to succeed and rebuild himself so he can rise back to the top and reclaim his championship. He won’t stab his brother in the back to win again and understands the value of having loyal friends, but he will not be bothered if Reigns doesn’t join him; he knows he can achieve his goal with or without Reigns.
Ambrose, though, will not accept the sleight from his brother laying down. Above all else he values loyalty and comradeship, and an attack on that is an attack on the very essence of who he is. As he became obsessed with the betrayal of Rollins in 2014 he will become obsessed with the perceived betrayal of Reigns in 2018, and if Rollins isn’t with him, then Ambrose will see it as another betrayal of their brotherhood.
Even if Reigns isn’t involved, a potential opportunity at another championship belt may see Seth try and fail to convince Dean that they can go it alone, prompting Dean to question the relationship.
Ultimately even if they can keep it together for a while, the brothers are destined to fight again. As Rollins put it, the two are wrestling soulmates, and when they get in the ring together something special happens more often than not.
But what do you think is next for the former Shield brethren? Will they stay together? Will the reunite with Reigns? Will they fight again?