Friday, 11 September 2015

DVD Review: The Destruction of The Shield

They were the most dominant force in WWE in recent years, a three-man unit that conquered all before them before their inevitable split, a split that created three bonafide singles stars. Yep, you guessed it, we're taking a look at the WWE's recent tribute to Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, The Destruction of the Shield.

As is the case with these multi-disc sets lets start right at the beginning with.....

Disc One
The collection begins with the eponymous documentary charting the careers of our three protagonists, from their first steps in the wrestling business through to their arrival on the developmental scene and the formation of the Shield. Kayfabe is very much the order of the day here, with everything done in character.

It's a very enjoyable piece, and it had the feel of a UFC Countdown show about it. As well as talking head segments from our boys there's also a ton of comments from their peers and some of the higher-ups in the company, and for me keeping everything "in character" added a great air of legitimacy to the entire story, which was only enhanced further with the use of footage from other companies such as Ring of Honor and Dragon Gate USA.

The second part of this piece charts their progress as singles stars in the run-up to last year's Summerslam, with Rollins, having won the Money in the Bank briefcase, facing Ambrose in a lumberjack match and Reigns facing his biggest challenge against Randy Orton. There's footage of our boys undertaking their various training sessions before they're seen in action in their big matches.

It's a brilliant hype piece for three of the top stars in WWE at the moment. It's put together extremely well, and all of our boys came across brilliantly. Watching this you get the feeling that if this wasn't done in character it would have been just as good.

But as is often the case with these collections there's a lot more than just a documentary here, so let's change gears and switch over to match review mode.

August 14th, 2011
We begin in Florida Championship Wrestling as Dean Ambrose challenges Seth Rollins for the FCW 15 title.

So what was the FCW 15 title? It's basically an iron man match, with the winner being the man with the most falls during the fifteen minute time limit.

This is a pretty enjoyable encounter. It was quite interesting to see these two in their early days under the WWE umbrella. I never really saw much of Ambrose during his indy days, but I saw a lot of Rollins during his time with ROH, and there certainly was a lot of Tyler Black in this match.

It began with some good old fashioned wrestling as they exchanged hold and counter hold, but it wasn't long before they went through the gears and began flying around the ring. But try as they might neither man could get a fall, and their frustrations turned this into a brawl as the time limit expired, and with neither man able to get any score the match was declared a draw, with Rollins keeping the title.

Afterwards Ambrose grabbed the title (a gold medal), and after jaw-jacking with Rollins for a few seconds he threw the title out of the ring.

September 18th, 2011
With the time limit extended to 30 minutes Ambrose challenges Rollins for the FCW 15 title once more.

The third match in their series (the second was a 20 minute draw) was the proverbial knock down, drag out affair. Like the first match it started out with some good old fashioned wrestling, but when Ambrose connected with a low blow, earning himself a disqualification and giving Rollins a fall, it meant that their duck had finally been broken. Ambrose's tactics quickly earned him a two fall lead, although Rollins managed to level the score late on.

But as with their previous encounter both men began to get a little desperate towards the end, so much so that they used each other's finisher, and although Rollins was more successful in that game of one-gunmanship it wasn't enough to get him the fall he needed, so when the bell sounded with the score at 2-2 the match was declared a draw.

It was then that FCW General Manager Maxine took to the microphone and ordered a sudden death overtime period, which meant that they had even more time to tear strips off each other. Ambrose almost took the win when he connected with his midnight special finisher, but when Rollins came back and took his man out with two superkicks and finished him off with his old God's last gift finisher it was all over as Rollins took the title-retaining pin.

February 5th, 2012
Ambrose faces Rollins again, but this time a big Samoan guy called Leakee (pronounced Lee-a-key) is added to the mix in a triple threat match, with the winner getting a shot at the FCW title.

This short and sweet encounter began with Ambrose taunting his then-rival William Regal at the commentary table, and when the action finally commenced it wasn't long before Ambrose joined his old rival Rollins in dishing out a beating to the powerhouse Leakee.

Needless to say that this newly-formed alliance didn't last that long, and with Leakee licking his wounds on the floor Ambrose mocked Regal a little more by trying to put Rollins away with the Regal stretch and the running knee, with neither move getting the job done.

But just when Ambrose was about to put Rollins away with his midnight special Leakee came back into the ring and lifted both men onto his shoulders before taking them down with a Samoan drop. He then sealed the deal by taking Ambrose down with a bulldog for the winning pin.

Disc Two
July 12th, 2012
It's the dying days of FCW, and a match that was a year in the making as Ambrose goes up against William Regal.

This situation began in June the previous year when Ambrose suffered a dislocated shoulder in a match against Regal. Afterwards Ambrose spent a great deal of time taunting his British rival, and the two finally met again as FCW neared it's end.

The match itself was a slow-paced affair with Regal working over Ambrose's previously injured shoulder with a variety of holds and moves, but a meeting with the ring post gave Ambrose the break he wanted. Regal's equilibrium was shot, and he wasn't helped when Ambrose rammed his head into an exposed turnbuckle. The combination of exposed metal and Ambrose's knee resulted in a bleeding ear for Regal.

Which brought the trainer into the equation. Although Regal managed to take Ambrose down with a clothesline at one point he could barely stand, which meant that the trainer and the referee called off the match. This didn't sit too well with Ambrose, and as other wrestlers and officials came into the ring the future lunatic fringe sent them packing before pulling down his knee pad. As he threatened to take his man out with his own move Regal called him on. It was just what Ambrose wanted as he took the Englishman down with a running knee before  the locker room finally emptied and stopped him from causing further damage.

August 29th, 2012
Over in NXT Rollins faces Jinder Mahal in the finals of the Gold Rush tournament to determine the first ever NXT Champion.

This is the first time I've seen this match in full, and I have to admit that it was pretty damn good. Pace-wise it was the complete opposite of the previous encounter, and the performances of those concerned wasn't that bad either.

Mahal kind of surprised me with his performance, but then again I'm more used to seeing him as a 3MB jobber, while Rollins showed that he'd come on in leaps and bounds since his FCW days. There were still small pieces of Tyler Black in there, but he was more like the Seth Rollins we know today.

As for the end, Rollins managed to avoid Jahal's camel clutch, and after taking him down with a buckle bomb he put him away with a curb stomp for the historic title-winning pin.

October 31st, 2012
Leakee is no more as Roman Reigns makes his NXT debut, taking on C.J. Parker.

This was more or less a squash match. Parker got in a few fleeting moments of offence, but it was Reigns all the way as he showed off his impressive power. Sadly the Superman punch wasn't there as he took the win with a suplex into a side slam.

December 16th, 2012
Our boys are now together as the Shield in WWE as they take on Ryback, Kane and Daniel Bryan in a tables, ladders and chairs match at TLC.

The Shield's first ever match as a unit was the proverbial tour de force and a clear statement of intent if ever there was one. It was a brilliant example of their work as a team, and in hindsight their illustrious opponents never really stood a chance because as good as they were individually they just couldn't get it going as a unit.

The formula for this one was actually quite simple. Ambrose, Rollins & Reigns would single out one of their opponents, and when either Ryback, Kane or Bryan managed to get any sort of momentum they quickly wiped it out, attacking them like a pack of wild dogs as they quickly regained the advantage.

Needless to say that there were a couple of big bumps, the biggest being when Ryback pulled Rollins off a ladder and through a stack of tables, but while the big man was recovering Reigns and Ambrose were putting Bryan through a table with a powerbomb from the middle rope for the winning pin.

May 19th, 2013
Our boys go for gold at Extreme Rules, beginning with Ambrose challenging Kofi Kingston for the United States title.

This was a unique match for the Shield because neither Reigns or Rollins accompanied Ambrose at ringside, so for the first time ever one of their number went into the battle on their own.

The match itself was one of those short and sweet affairs. Kingston put in his usual impressive performance with his array of high-flying moves, an offence which Ambrose brought to a screeching halt with a simple clothesline.

From there they put together some nice exchanges, culminating with Kingston knocking his man off the ring apron with his trouble in paradise kick. However, instead of opting for the count out win the champion rolled his challenger back in, intent on pinning him. But by then Ambrose had recovered enough of his senses to grab onto the bottom rope.

Rolling Ambrose back into the ring proved to be a costly mistake for Kingston. When he attempted another trouble in paradise Ambrose ducked out of the way as Kingston crashed into the ropes, and one face plant later gave Ambrose his title win.

Later that night, Reigns and Rollins challenge Team Hell No's Kane and Daniel Bryan for the Tag Team title in a tornado match.

The rules of this one meant that the all hell breaking loose segment lasted for the entire match, and these guys certainly gave us a lot of entertainment in such a short space of time. As is the case with these kind of matches there was plenty of brawling throughout as both teams put in good performances.

As good as this match was there wasn't any real stand-out performances, but it was a timely reminder of just how good these two units where, especially Kane and Bryan.

The ending came when the Shield boys used a one-time only finisher, with Reigns lifting Bryan into a torture rack position and Rollins connecting with a knee from the top rope before old goat face was dumped to the mat. A three count later and the Hounds of Justice had their second title win of the evening.

July 14th, 2013
It's the Money in the Bank kick-off show as Rollins and Reigns defend their Tag Team titles against the Usos.

Seems like our boys were a little annoyed that their title defence wasn't on the main show, and given the way that this one played out I can see why. It's a nice little gem, although the flow of the match is spoiled a little for the "we've got to go for a commercial" breaks. Hey, if the cameras are always rolling why can't they include the whole of the match on their DVDs?

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. It another short and sweet one, with our boys using Jey as their punching bag before the hot tag and the move of the match, with Rollins and Reigns taking their boys down with a powerbomb/superplex combination at the same time.

In fact it was almost as good as the finish, with Rollins taking Jimmy down with a buckle bomb and Reigns sealing the deal with a spear.

November 24th, 2013
It's on to the Survivor Series as our boys team with Antonio Cesaro and Jack Swagger of the Real Americans to take on the Usos, Goldust, Cody Rhodes and Rey Mysterio.

This match is a great example of just why the Survivor Series is such a great concept, because this was a match filled with drama, tension, and a great performance from Roman Reigns.

It was the perfect piece of storytelling, with the intention of keeping the Shield strong as a unit even though they had their failings via the eliminations, as was evidenced early on.

As for the eliminations, Ambrose was the first to go. After stomping a mud hole on Rhodes in the corner he began arguing with the referee. This distraction cost him dearly when Rhodes rolled him up for the three count.

Swagger was next. After Zeb Colter's boys has used Goldust for target practice he managed to get the hot tag to Mysterio. A fast-paced exchange with Swagger followed, and after he connected with the 619 the Usos combined to put him away with a superkick/superfly splash combination.

Cesaro followed a few minutes later. After taking both Usos down with his big swing Rhodes tagged himself back into the match, countering a backdrop attempt with a sunset flip for the pin.

Now this is where it got interesting. Rollins and Reigns were left against five opponents, and they began their comeback by taking Jey Uso to the woodshed before he managed to tag his brother into the match. But when Jimmy went to the top rope to take out Reigns with the superfly splash Reigns brought up his knees. A spear later and Jimmy was eliminated.

Rhodes was next. As he was about to take Rollins out with his cross-Rhodes finisher Reigns tagged himself in. Rhodes executed his move but quickly found himself on the receiving end of a spear and an eliminating pin.

A brawl between Jey Uso and Reigns at ringside followed, and after throwing Reigns into the barricade he rolled him back into the ring. His top rope attack came to nothing though, and after Rollins tagged him back in he finished him off with the curb stomp for the pin.

A fast-paced exchanged between Rollins and Mysterio followed, and even though Reigns managed to bully the masked man around a little an untimely meeting with the ring post saw Rollins tag himself back in. It quickly led to his downfall as Mysterio countered his electric chair attempt with a sunset flip for the pin.

This left Reigns alone against Mysterio and Goldust. The big man managed to deal out a little punishment to Mysterio before he made it back to his corner, and although the face-painted one took Reigns down a few times he managed to avoid his running bulldog attempt to take him down with another spear for the pin. Mysterio followed just a few seconds later, and like others before him he fell to Reigns' spear as the Shield's power man became the sole survivor.

Disc Three
February 23rd, 2014
It's a battle between the two most dominant factions in recent memory as our boys take on the Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber.

Before this match had even begun the crowd began their this is awesome chant. Just the sight of these two factions eyeing each other up was enough to elicit that particular reaction.

As soon as the action began it was obvious what kind of match this was going to be. The Shield boys controlled the early going until the creepy Wyatts took command and used Ambrose for target practice. The lunatic fringe eventually made his way back to his corner, and although Rollins managed to pull off some impressive moves he was soon getting the same treatment that Ambrose was getting a few moments before.

The hot tag to Reigns signalled the start of the all hell breaking loose segment, and that would definitely be an apt description with regards to this part of the match. One by one Wyatt and his boys were taken out. Wyatt himself took Ambrose out while brawling through the crowd, while Rowan and Harper took Ambrose down with a double chokeslam through the Spanish announcer's table.

This left Reigns along in the ring, but sadly for him he couldn't pull off the heroics of the Survivor Series or the Royal Rumble. He pulled off some good moves at first but eventually the numbers were too much for him, and although he managed to power out of Wyatt's initial sister Abigail attempt he wasn't lucky enough the second time around as the Wyatt and his boys took the pin.

June 1st, 2014
It's the final hurrah for our boys as a team as they take on the re-formed Evolution in a 6 man no holds barred elimination match at Payback.

This proverbial battle of the generations was a war, plain a simple. Even though half of it was consisted of a normal tag team match the rest of it was brutal to say the least as these two teams tried to beat the you know what out of each other.

Perhaps the most brutal part was the treatment of Reigns. Having used Shield-like tactics to put him through the Spanish announcer's table, and having taken care of Ambrose and Rollins near the entrance way Trips and his boys returned to the ring and took Reigns apart, at one point draping him over the ring steps and smashing him with countless kendo stick shots. I'm sure the Sandman would have been proud of them.

The actual eliminations didn't happen until the final few minutes. Batista was the first to go. Rollins countered when the Animal tried to take him down with the Batista bomb. Reigns then stormed into the ring and took the big man down with a spear before Rollins took the pin.

Orton quickly followed. When he was about to take Reigns down with his hangman DDT Ambrose came up from behind and clobbered him with a chair. A dirty deeds onto the aforementioned chair and the Viper was history.

This left Triple H against the entire Shield. Those already eliminated helped out when Batista when he took Reigns down with a spear and Orton handed Trips his trusty old sledgehammer, and although the Game managed to clobber Ambrose with his weapon of choice he soon fell to Rollins' drive by knee, and when Reigns took him out with a spear for the winning pin it was all over.

June 29th, 2014
The Shield is no more after Rollins' betrayal. There's now bigger fish to fry though, as Rollins and Ambrose join Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, Rob Van Dam and Jack Swagger in the fight for a WWE World Title match in a Money in the Bank ladder match.

Going into this one it was kind of obvious that the main talking point would be the growing rivalry between Rollins and Ambrose, and even though that proved to be the pivotal point of the contest there were also some great performances from the supporting cast, as well as plenty of big bumps.

For me the highlight was seeing RVD turn back the clock as he pulled off his trademark moves. He was definitely better here than he was in his TNA tenure, where he looked like he was just going through the motions. Swagger, Kingston, and Ziggler had their moments as well, particularly when Swagger powerbombed RVD off the ladder.

The holy you know what moment of the match came when Rollins and Kingston were fighting at the top of the ladder. Kingston had perched another ladder between the ropes and the main ladder, and a few moments later he back dropped Rollins onto the ladder. The thing quickly buckled as Rollins crashed onto the mat.

As expected the final moments belonged to Rollins and Ambrose. Ambrose had been taken out of the match with a shoulder injury, but just when it looked as if Rollins was about to get his moment of glory Ambrose returned to the ring and dispatched his rival. Then the creepy organ music played as the demon Kane made his way out, and after taking Ambrose down with a chokeslam and a tombstone it cleared the way for Rollins to grab the case and claim the Money in the Bank contract.

August 17th, 2014
It's on to the hottest event of the summer as our boys enter two matches at Summerslam, beginning with Ambrose facing Rollins in a lumberjack match.

I think the best way to describe this one would be wild and crazy. It began with the good and the great of the WWE, and Heath Slater, surrounding the ring as these two tried to beat the hell out of each other. The lumberjacks were quite adept at their job, until Ambrose and Rollins decided to take their fight out of the ring.

Eventually their brawling took them amongst the fans, which brought an irate Corporate Kane onto the scene as he lambasted the lumberjacks for not doing their job. A group of them soon grabbed Ambrose, just when it looked as if Rollins was about to powerbomb him off a balcony, and as they carted him back to the ring Rollins tried to make his escape. The only problem was that the rest of the lumberjacks were waiting for him, but by the time they'd taken him back to the ring Ambrose was on the top rope waiting for them with a suicide dive.

So as the overworked lumberjacks recovered around the ring Rollins and Ambrose resumed hostilities between the ropes, and it wasn't long before Ambrose was taking Rollins out with his own curb stomp finisher. But just when it looked as if he was about to get the win Kane jumped into the ring and broke up the pin.

This was the cue for another mass brawl, but just after Ambrose sent Luke Harper and Erick Rowan over the top rope Rollins came back into the ring and clobbered him with his Money in the Bank briefcase. A three count later and the former architect of the Shield had won.

Later that night Reigns faced his biggest test ever, taking on the Authority's Randy Orton.

As good as this match was it was kind of an anti-climax after that breathtaking brawl between Rollins and Ambrose. Both guys put in good performances, with Orton controlling the action with his slow and methodical approach, and Reigns using his power game to good effect.

As they kicked the action into overdrive it looked like Reigns was going to take the win after connecting with his Superman punch. However, when he went for the spear Orton countered with his trademark powerslam before eventually connecting with the RKO.

But to the Viper's surprise Reigns kicked out of the pin attempt, which left him with only one option, the good old fashioned kick to the head. It wasn't to be though. As Orton came across the ring Reigns swept his feet out from under him before coming off the ropes and finally connecting with the spear for the winning pin.

August 18th, 2014
One day later on Raw and Rollins and Ambrose are at it again, this time in a falls count anywhere match.

After the massive brawl these two had the night before there was only really one way that they could continue their rivalry, and the ironic thing about this match is that they spent more fighting in the ring than they did in the lumberjack match!

If you're not a regular Raw viewer then this is one match you must go back and look at. It's a wild brawl with great pacing and great storytelling throughout, and with an ending that was somewhat surprising in this PG-era world.

These two went all out as they tried to kick the proverbial out of each other. There were kendo sticks, a ton of chairs, and a ton of punches before we even got to the holy you know what moments, with Rollins countering Ambrose's superplex attempt with a powerbomb onto a pile of chairs, and Ambrose finally getting his wish when he superplexed Rollins through a table.

But just like the last match it was the interference of Corporate Kane that led to Ambrose's downfall. The lunatic fringe had managed to fight of both Authority guys at first until the numbers got too much for him and Rollins took him out with a curb stomp on the commentator's table. They then took things even further when Kane revealed a pile of cinder blocks. A few moments later Rollins took Ambrose down again with a curb stomp on the blocks. That was it as far as the referee was concerned. Ambrose was done, and he had no choice but to stop the match and give Rollins the win.

September 15th, 2014
It's the final match of the collection, and with Ambrose on the injured reserve list it's time for Reigns and Rollins to face each other on Raw.

Now this was good, but my main problem with it was that it, with commercial breaks, lasted a shade under ten minutes, and given the history between these two that's a little surprising.

Once again I'll have to say that both guys put in good performances, and although it lacked the intensity of the Rollins/Ambrose encounters they showed great chemistry throughout, with some of the best sequences coming towards the end when Rollins connected with a series of kicks, only for Reigns to avoid the curb stomp, the big man taking the win after taking Rollins out with the trusty old spear.

Disc three is where you'll also find a couple of deleted scenes, a segment on the Dean Ambrose/William Regal rivalry in FCW, and how Leakee turned into Roman Reigns.

In conclusion - well, it's about seven hours and a couple of thousand words or so later, and I have to say that this release hit that sweet spot.

I was a massive fan of the Shield in their heyday. Along with the Wyatts they were the breath of fresh air that WWE desperately needed at the time, and although some say that they were broken up too early it's really great to see that all three members have flourished since the group's demise.

Everything about this release scream quality, from the documentary right through to all of the matches. I really enjoyed the pre-Shield FCW and NXT matches, and all of the WWE matches were top notch, even though there were some down points there.

So in all I have to say that The Destruction of the Shield is a great DVD, and that's why it's getting the big thumbs up.

With thanks to Fremantle Media and Fetch Publicity for supplying a copy of this release. The Destruction of the Shield is available to buy online at www.wwedvd.co.uk.