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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Can the WWE Creative Team Succeed with The Shield?
By Mr. Tito
Dec 19, 2012 - 11:43:43 PM
Behold, the "Excellence in Column Writing" is upon you as I, Mr. Tito brings you the thunder (or chunder!) for yet another edition of MR. TITO STRIKES BACK. In all honesty, I had no intentions of writing a column this week... I thought about another On This Day In Pro Wrestling History..., but there's only so much discussion about World Championship Wrestling (WCW), the company that the WWE bought during March 2001, that a 2012 younger wrestling fan is willing to endure. Besides, the topic of the Black Scorpion for WCW during 1990 has been written about extensively already...
But I come to you because I agreed to write a column and the topic of their choosing IF a certain TLC Pay Per View prediction of AJ Lee turning on John Cena would come true. So for Brandon Jacobs (not the former NY Giants and current 49ers running back), this column is for you... Fascinating topic, too... Brandon Jacobs wrote: And now for your next column. How the WWE SHOULD book the Shield long term so they don't ruin it like Nexus! do they expand? Add NXT guys and/or vets? Do they need leader or is it Ambrose? Add a NXT chick in the fold? or stay as is?
See, how is that for customer service here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com? A wrestling columnist, notably one who has been here FOREVER (October 1998), taking column topic requests... If you have an interesting column topic that you'd like to see the "Excellence in Column Writing" take on, Follow Me and Tweet Me on Twitter: @titowrestling
THE SHIELD - In all honesty, I didn't know what to make of these 3 when they first attacked at Survivor Series 2012. I have to be honest here in my old age as a wrestling fan... 10 years ago, I followed the WWE Developmental System closely. When the "Class of 2002" arrived from the previous developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling, I knew who most of them were (Cena, Orton, Lesnar, Batista, Benjamin, etc.). When you had a lot more free time without full time work, kids, keeping up a house, and other responsibilities, you could follow pro wrestling beyond what airs on Cable Television. But now, I just don't have time... I'm an old family man working my arse off full time... So when these guys suddenly appear on television, I have no clue who or what they are... The Shield caught me by surprise at Survivor Series 2012 and I wasn't sure exactly what they were trying to accomplish by specifically attacking Ryback in order to assist CM Punk in retaining his WWE Title over Ryback/John Cena.
Many of the younger fans who follow the WWE's Developmental System and/or the Indy scene right now were applauding the promotion of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns to the main WWE roster. I took a "wait and see" approach as I haven't seen much from any of the 3 (again, no time!) prior to the WWE. Then I saw a sitdown interview with Michael Cole... There they were, all 3 dressed in black and cut great promos, especially Dean Ambrose whom I've heard about the most. It was awesome and captivating... They continued to attack those who appeared to wrestle or feud with CM Punk in the weeks to come, yet never revealing any official connection to Punk. The tease and the mystery of purpose appear to be great booking, for once, by our wonderful WWE Creative Team who have fumbled many storylines in 2012 and have a bad habit of kneejerk script rewrites.
It donned on me why the Shield, with good booking and great talent, is working... It's an actual GOOD HEEL STABLE that appears to be a legitimate threat to WWE's babyfaces.
We almost had this during 2010, if you'll remember. On June 7th, 2010, the wrestlers from the first season of WWE NXT hit the ring and attacked everybody and everything in sight. They interrupted a fans' choice match between John Cena vs. CM Punk and focused specifically on attacking John Cena for additional heat. The NXT members renamed themselves as the Nexus and for a few weeks, they were interesting... Then, a few injuries here, a Daniel Bryan firing there, reshuffling of line-ups, and just bad booking against the made-to-be-superhuman John Cena quickly killed the stable's credibility. In my opinion, the failure of the Nexus to pay off through Survivor Series 2010 has caused downward momentum on the recent WWE product because of a disappointing storyline that let down fans significantly.
Looking back on history, HEEL STABLES have been around for the most successful periods in pro wrestling history and helped to grow the business. The Four Horsemen drew huge in Jim Crockett's National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) that would later become World Championship Wrestling (WCW). I'd argue that Paul Heyman's Dangerous Alliance HEEL STABLE kept things interesting in WCW during the early 1990's when nothing else did. Then, WCW became the #1 promotion when arguably the greatest heel stable of all time was formed, the New World Order (NWO). Go ask the WWE how their multiple NWO videos are selling. I bought mine on Blu Ray recently!
For the World Wrestling Federation / Entertainment (WWF/WWE), stables were always present to help the business grow. Bobby Heenan's Family was always there to consistently feed heels to the top faces in the WWF during the 1980's. Having Andre "the Giant" join Heenan's stable was huge and was pivotal to help create major drawing power for Wrestlemania 3 against Hulk Hogan. WWE created multiple midcard stables during the 1996-1997, seeing how successful the NWO was in WCW... But the Hart Foundation and then Degeneration X stables were major reasons why the WWF bounced back as a business during 1997. DX is the rare bird that drew as a heel stable and then remade itself into a face stable during 1998 that drew quite well. Triple H would reunite DX as a heel stable for 2000 and they were important for the top heel, Triple H, to have around as a supporting cast for the McMahon-Helmsley power couple. And who could forget Vince McMahon's Corporation and Corporate Ministry? Who else would Steve Austin fight against for 1998 and 1999? Constantly fed him opponents...
Do you see where I'm getting at? GOOD HEEL STABLES DRAW!!!!!!!!!!
What amazes me is that you have a WWE Corporation run by the same guy since 1982, Vince McMahon. Not only has he witnessed the business first hand since 1982, but he also OWNS every other company's video libraries. That's right, WWE not only owns their own library since it was first televised, but the American Wrestling Association (AWA), Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW), and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) video libraries. Assuming just since 1982 only, Vince McMahon owns 30 years of booking to observe... He, along with any members of his creative team, can review what went RIGHT and what went WRONG from the WWE and other promotions. The WWE Creative Team and Vince can even get lazy and STEAL great ideas from the past. Why not? Most great ideas variations of other great ideas, anyway... Effectively, the Shield has "invaded" the WWE and are wearing all black... Sound familiar NWO fans? Kevin Nash and Scott Hall invaded WCW in 1996 as "outsiders" and the NWO wore black and white. Not exactly similar, but the blue print is there...
YEARS upon YEARS of WWWF/WWF/WWE, NWA/WCW, ECW, AWA, and WCCW footage, along with other wrestling libraries acquired... The WWE Corporation would be FOOLISH not to at least hire someone with analytical skills to study film. You could even hire statisticians to measure ratings, buyrates, attendance, and other monetary measures of success against when a particular stable storyline was run. The WWE, aside from TNA and Ring of Honor, own the last 30 years of the pro wrestling industry to study. Why not use it?
For booking the Shield, study the damn film to see what WORKS for a HEEL STABLE and what could FAIL. In my opinion, the WWE may have learned from the past from the Shield's match against Kane/Daniel Bryan/Ryback at the TLC Pay Per View. If you go back to No Mercy 1999 during October 1999, the Tag Team Ladder Match between Hardy Boyz vs. Edge/Christian MADE those two teams. The booking of the match was flawless and set both teams up for a huge 2000 year, along with the added Dudley Boyz. The Shield vs. Kane/Bryan/Ryback match was highly praised and could quite possibly help boost the sales of the TLC Pay Per View video. The Shield, if they weren't over before since their Survivor Series 2012 debut, will now get over because of this superb match... Just as the Hardys and Edge/Christian did in 1999.
The WWE Creative Staff CANNOT repeat the same HEEL STABLE booking mistakes of the past. Early on, the Shield has been booked well... But remember, the Nexus started off red hot as well... I'm sure that you've heard of the phrase once coined by European writer/philosopher George Santayana during sometime between 1905-1906: "THOSE WHO CANNOT REMEMBER THE PAST ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT." Thus, if the WWE doesn't study their own history or other promotion's failures, they'll be condemned to repeat the same booking mistakes from the past. The Shield could quickly become the Nexus if not handled correctly.
As a dedicated wrestling viewer, columnist, and as someone who has read into the history of pro wrestling... I offer the following HEEL STABLE recommendations for the WWE to follow based on what has worked or failed in the past 30 years:
IMAGE IS EVERYTHING: Right now, the Shield has a cool nickname (though I wonder if Marvel for S.H.I.E.L.D or FX for "The Shield" TV Show could challenge over copyright?) and I like how "the Shield" alludes to protecting the WWE logo. The group is quietly alluding to what CM Punk said in his promos before and after Money in the Bank 2011 about "wanting to change the WWE" and being the "voice of voiceless" without outright connecting them to Punk. Wearing the all black uniforms and coming out of the crowd MATTERS. The New World Order gave the appearance of independence from WCW in 1996-1997 and even cut promos as paid advertising. Making the Shield appear independent from the rest of the WWE will create an appearance of realism instead of the typical WWE Corporation template for how every other WWE superstar is presented. Putting too much WWE Corporation marketing around the group could overexpose the group...
RETAIN CORE MEMBERS: For the next year or so, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns need to be married to the group. The Nexus swapped in new members for old and quickly became confusing as a group. Firing the man who should have been the key member of the group, Daniel Bryan, didn't help either. As you'll recall, Daniel Bryan choked a ring announcer with a tie during the Nexus attack and the PG-era WWE actually terminated Bryan over that incident.
BE CAREFUL ABOUT ADDITIONS: Most heel stables were ruined when they added too many wrestlers to the core group. NWO is the obvious case... They started off with Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hulk Hogan... Their first additions were cool with the Giant (Big Show now), Syxx (Sean Waltman or X-Pac), and Ted Dibiase... But then they kept adding and adding wrestlers... By 1998, they split up into 2 groups, NWO Hollywood and NWO Wolfpack. By 1999, they had a "revamped" version of a merged NWO... If they only kept the group smaller and efficient, they might not have over-exposed themselves by 1998. The WORST kind of "addition" to a stable is a bad heel turn to join said heel stable. For example, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin joining the WCW/ECW Alliance was idiotic, among many other WWE wrestlers "jumping ship" to the WCW/ECW stable during 2001. Might be better off adding more Developmental wrestlers to the group rather than adding an existing WWE roster member who might not fit.
BE CAREFUL ABOUT SUBTRACTIONS: Great example is Evolution... They were just getting hot as a group during late 2003 and into 2004 and could have ruled the RAW brand for the next few years with Triple H, Randy Orton, Batista, and Ric Flair. However, the WWE wanted to push Randy Orton as a babyface main eventer and actually gave him the World Heavyweight Title at SummerSlam 2004. Orton tanked as champion and quickly lost the belt... Poor booking move ruined the Evolution stable. The better way to conduct a stable member removal would be 4 months after Orton's babyface exit from Evolution with Batista. He was beginning to get naturally over with fans and started to look like a main eventer within the group. Batista won Royal Rumble 2005 and that caused tension in the Evolution stable when he flirted with challenging fellow Evolution member Triple H for the World Heavyweight Title. Batista was made into a solid main eventer for years to come.
DON'T REVEAL CM PUNK OR SOMEONE ELSE AS THE LEADER... BUILD THE SUSPENSE: The mystery of the Shield's purpose, other than what they've stated to Michael Cole ("protecting the WWE Shield"), remains a mystery even if they appear to be always helping CM Punk. However, CM Punk (and Paul Heyman) are not directly acknowledging their involvement with the Shield. They are just quietly going about their business... Eventually, they could reveal their alliance with CM Punk, but there exists opportunity in building up the suspense. Think back to 1996 when Hulk Hogan was revealed as the 3rd man for the NWO or when the "Higher Power" was revealed for the Undertaker's Ministry during 1999. Fans were amped with anticipation! Granted, revealing the surprise backer of the group can fail... Timing and execution are everything.
LET THEM WIN: So far, so good... The Shield, at TLC, defeated 2 former World Champions in Daniel Bryan and Kane along with a guy getting pushed hard right now by WWE Creative, Ryback. The Shield beat them impressively as a group. I've been shocked at the way the Shield has got the better of Ryback, in fact. Ryback has been pushed as a guy who can defeat 2 people in one match yet these newcomers can overwhelm him easily. The Nexus, by comparison, never had a strong win in their initial months as a group. By the time they "forced" John Cena to join the group, fans were already bored with the group due to their lack of credibility from poor booking. All about credibility...
DON'T LET THEM BECOME JOHN CENA's ****: John Cena is the top babyface in the WWE. And as such, like Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, and the Rock before him, the WWE pushes Cena to be superhuman and overcomes absurd odds. With due respect to John Cena, but the Shield just defeated Ryback and 2 former World Champions (Kane/Daniel Bryan) in a match. Thus, how should John Cena be able to overcome all 3 guys? Cena easily dismantled the Nexus with time... Quite possibly, the NWO looked weak when Sting was able to defeat their entire group, at times, by himself. Granted, Sting had a baseball bat during 1997...
Just my 2 cents on stables, their history of the last 30 years, and what has worked and failed.
With time, it just feels right that the Shield should officially merge with CM Punk/Paul Heyman. Punk gives them their main eventer for the moment, Roman Reigns is the muscle or "enforcer", Paul Heyman is the cheating manager on the outside, while letting Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose dominate the Tag Team scene just feels like it fits... Things could get really interesting if The Shield and CM Punk add the returning Brock Lesnar to the fold, provided that Lesnar is business associates with Paul Heyman in the storylines. This heel stable could cause unholy terror within the WWE and John Cena with help from a few friends like Alberto Del Rio, Miz, and Sheamus could only benefit as babyfaces up against this heel force. HISTORY SHOWS THAT THIS FORMULA WORKS! You have at least 2 years of great business to behold with a strong Shield stable combined with the downfall of the group (strong egos within or maybe Dean Ambrose becoming a breakout star). Almost writes itself!
As the phrase goes again... "THOSE WHO CANNOT REMEMBER THE PAST ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT." If Vince McMahon, Kevin Dunn, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon, the key 4 power players in the WWE right now, are unwilling to even read the "Cliff's Notes" version of pro wrestling history about what booking works and what fails... Then the WWE deserves to continue its downward trending business. Such a HUGE video library to learn from and yet the McMahons don't believe in the past and write storylines without any thought of long-term. Makes you wonder if Stephanie McMahon and Triple H even care about history, as former backstage officials that used to surround Vince McMahon actually experienced it... WWE appeared to have better booking when experienced wrestling veterans like Pat Patterson and Gerald Briscoe were advising Vince, along with Jim Ross overseeing talent development, as opposed to family (Stephanie, Triple H) and a bunch of Hollywood writers advising Vince now since 2001.
The Video Library IS THERE.... Review the damn thing, Vince! The blueprint for success is there to make the Shield a powerful drawing force for the WWE for years to come.
HEEL STABLES WORK... When booked properly.
Just chill till the next episode...
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