It is a well-known fact that DC Matthews, and really the NAIborhood in general, loves the concept of a stable. Travel back through the Twitter and article histories and you’ll see countless discussions about who should team with who, what the angle should be, etc.
Over the last few years, the concept of a “stable” has shifted. Gone are the days of the Horsemen and the nWo. In today’s WWE, you’ve got two types of stables.
The Authority: A group of individuals focused solely on the protection of their star, with some occasional dips into promoting their own “best for business” agenda.
A trio: 3 guys uniting for a single cause. Not 4. 5 is right out. It has to be 3.
While there have been many famous triads in wrestling history (New Day is, hopefully, turning some curious fans onto the success of the Fabulous Freebirds), this recent trend can be traced back to two major groups - The Shield and The Wyatt Family. These two trios had countless battles, mainly against each other, and seemed to dominate pro wrestling for a brief period.
Yet, looking back on it, this is a tale of two trios. While The Shield is lauded, praised and seems destined for Hall of Fame greatness, the Wyatts are mainly an example of “what might have been.” Why is that? Why did one trio succeed while the other faltered, when both seemed poised to take over the world? As with any good question, there’s multiple answers here, so let’s take a look back and see what happened.
Both these groups had almost an identical amount of time as a stable, though some might make the argument (and I hope they’re right) that the Wyatts’ aren’t done wreaking familial havoc.
The Shield made their debut in November of 2012 and famously (and, oddly enough, on the exact day of this writing) broke up on June 2nd of 2014. That’s a little over 18 months.
The Wyatt’s didn’t debut on WWE programming until July of 2013, though they lasted longer as a unit, going until their odd dissolution in December of 2014. Again, just about a year and a half.
Despite the similarities, in objective hindsight, it appears that the Shield broke up at the exact right moment. Nobody seemed to question their direction leading up to the split, and while people were excited for what it meant for the futures of Rollins, Ambrose and Reigns, it was still a very emotional split.
Not so for the Wyatts. All 3 talents seemed to be languishing near the end of their run, and when they did “break up”, if we can even call it that, it seemed appropriate. We were expecting Bray to become a mega-star, Harper to take over the mid-card and . . . Well, we weren’t sure what to do with Rowan, even if he did become a Rubik’s cube solving genius.
Obviously, time can’t be a deciding factor in this. Let’s move on.
There was a while there, right before I got back into the wrestling world, where The Shield had a vice grip on the championship scene that harkens back to the days of the Horsemen, or to use a more recent reference, the Two Man Power Trip. Ambrose wore the US title for just about an entire year - In fact, he’s the longest reigning United States title holder since the belt became a WWE product. (The longest reigning US champion was Lex Luger, and as someone who watched a lot of that title reign during my WCW PPV quest, let me tell you - it seemed a whole lot longer than 523 days.)
Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns only held the tag titles for 148 days, winning them on the same day Ambrose won the US title (quite the coronation for The Shield, no?). So for just about 6 months, these guys ran the roost in WWE.
The Wyatts? Again, not so much. Erick Rowan and Luke Harper held the NXT Tag Team titles, which is lovely, I suppose, but neither them nor Bray Wyatt held any other titles during their Family run. Well, I suppose Harper won the IC title right in the very last weeks of the Family, but that’s dodgy at best.
Hmm, we’re getting warmer here. Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?
It was obvious, wasn’t it? The Shield was one of the best stables in history because they were booked like one of the best stables in history. From the very beginning, the brothers had a pseudo-alliance with one CM Punk, one of the top guys in the company. They took on some of WWE’s best talents and won, took on Evolution and won, then dominated the title scene. Even their break-up was booked as one of the most dramatic moments in WWE history. These guys were meant to be main eventers, which explains, crazily enough, why they all are.
The Wyatt’s never had those moments. Sure, Bray had his main event feuds, but as we all seem to repeatedly lament, he never had the success we would hope he had. Evidently, he is not someone WWE feels comfortable building around, and while I may vehemently disagree with them on that opinion, I have to grudgingly go along with their decision. They have plenty of main event guys, so it makes some sense.
But what about Harper and Rowan?
I’m not sharing government secrets here, folks. The tag team division has SUCKED over the last year +. Sure, New Day and KiddAro are amazing, and we seem to be seeing a resurgence of the Prime Time Players, but how in the blue hell did Luke and Erick not win the tag team titles on MULTIPLE occasions over the last 18 months? What was the point of feuding with the Usos for PPVs on end and LOSING each time? These guys could have been, in some ways, the Road Warriors of the division, in all the ways The Ascension can’t. They’re bigger, stronger and arguably more talented (especially “Hawk” Harper) than anybody else. Nobody should have been able to touch these two.
Thankfully, because the break up wasn’t so prevalent, Rowan and Harper have been able to sidle back together without much of a fuss. I’m all for the tag division continuing to grow, but these two need to be a major piece of the tandem puzzle. If they don’t win the tag titles on this go-round, then I don’t know what to do any more. They’ll push my #PromotingPositivity to the breaking point if these guys don’t start running roughshod, and pronto.
What do YOU think? Why did The Shield succeed while the Wyatts did not? Be Heard.
While “The Architect” has only been a main event player for a brief period, his finishing move sure worked its way into our hearts, didn’t it? That’s the beauty of the truly good ‘match-enders’ - the Superkick, the Sharpshooter, the GTS - sometimes they expand beyond the talents themselves.
The perfect finisher is more than just a flashy move; it’s truly a combination of the right maneuver done by the right superstar, usually to the right opponent. Now, I’m not going to talk much about the Stone Cold Stunner in this column, and if you’ve read my recent work you know why - I take issue with Austin taking issue with someone using his move, so he and I are in a fight right now.
However, what I will say is that one of the reasons the Stunner was so good is because guys like Vince McMahon and The Rock made it look like they died each and every time they took it. It takes a lot to go right in order for a finishing move to transcend.
This is probably why so many current WWE finishers are so. . .well. . .underwhelming, as evidenced by Rollins’ new “Faceplant DDT”, as I’ll call it until I am told otherwise. Outside of Rollins’ “other” finisher (more on that later), there wasn’t going to be much that was going to replace the Curb Stomp. It’s just too synonymous with Seth right now.
However, being that it’s the topic of the week, it seems, and it also happens to be “What If Wednesday”, it’s time to finally put this finisher topic to bed. I’ve been toying with this column idea for months now - even went ahead and wrote a good portion of it before losing it in an unfortunate Interwebz accident. But, as John Cena’s entrance music tells us, “The Time is Now”, so here we go.
It is up to me. . . DC Matthews, Chief of Staff of the New Age Insiders. . . to make things right in the realm of finishing moves.
I’m going to take the less-exciting moves away from some of your favorite sports entertainers and give them new ones that might take them over the top. In some cases, I might even trade one talents’ finisher for another, since its entirely possible what doesn’t work for the proverbial goose may be just right for that damn gander.
Most importantly, though, I’m giving people 2 finishers.
Yes, you heard me right, TWO! It is my personal opinion that having multiple finishing moves benefits everyone involved - the wrestlers, the audience, everybody. The superstars have more flexibility and opportunities to create engaging moments and the fans remain firmly sir-planted on the edge of their seats because they’re not quite as sure what’s coming.
John Cena, for all his faults, has it right. He can end a match with an AA or with an STF - if he wasn’t so hated, we’d appreciate the diversity a little more. So each talent that I’ll talk about in these columns (I have a feeling this is going to be a series, not just a one-shot deal) will have two finishing moves. To make things even more exciting, I’ve broken things up into categories, and no talent can have two finishers from the same one.
Power Moves, Strikes, Aerial Moves and Submissions
These are, to me, the four types of moves, and it is in this vein that I created my new finishers.
To start, we’ll begin with the three former Shield brothers, since they will spend the rest of their lives being spoken about in the same breath.
Our reigning and defending World Heavyweight Champion is obviously in a transition period when it comes to his moveset, so there is no better person to start with than he. Most of you would probably immediately return the Curb Stomp to him, but partially just to irritate my fans and partially because I have convictions, I’m not doing it. Fear not, friends, you’ll see the move, just not with this particular talent.
Finisher 1 - Phoenix Splash
This is obviously going to be Rollins’ “big moment” move; what Lesnar’s Shooting Star Press would have been had he not almost died trying it at Wrestlemania. Were it up to me, though, Seth’s aerial acrobatics would be a significant part of his repertoire. It’s a thing of beauty to behold, and should be seen more often.
Finisher 2 - Turnbuckle Bomb into a Superkick
I know that the Superkick has become as common as a headlock in today’s wrestling world, but hear me out - I’ve given this some thought.
First of all, it just makes a lot of sense when you consider the natural rhythm of the set-up. Rollins picks up his opponents for the Turnbuckle Bomb, tossing them into the corner. They usually do some sort of rebound when that happens, which means they’re essentially walking right into Superkick territory. All Seth has to do is take a quick step or two back after throwing his opponent, and SMACK! A little “Sweet Chin Music” gets him the 1-2-3.
Second, and I won’t lie to you, there’s implications abound here - Rollins is very much to me what Shawn Michaels was in the mid 90’s, only put in a bit of a time compressor. Part of a great tag team? Check. Turned on his partner(s) in epic style? Check. Ran around the mid-card scene (HBK with the IC title, Seth with the briefcase) having incredible matches each and every night? Check. Wins their first World Title at Wrestlemania? Check. Looks to be the complete and total future of the company? Double check.
I’m not saying. . I’m really not. . .that Rollins is Michaels 2.0 - that’s too much pressure for any single talent. I am saying, though, that if anyone was going to bring the Superkick back to match-ending prominence, it’s Rollins, especially if he has a picture perfect set-up move to go with it.
Note: You could talk me into a Shining Wizard or some other leg-based strike here, if you really wanted to.
Mr. Lunatic Fringe was the subject of much discussion on NAIpod and said discussion centered around this very topic - How bad Dirty Deeds is and how much Ambrose needs a new finisher. Now, I think the Double Arm DDT is a MUCH better match-ender than the original piece of junk that bore that name, but as Jason Moltov has said, I really don’t see Dean winning a World Title off of it.
The easy answer is the Stunner, I grant you. It makes a lot of sense on a lot of levels. I’m going to think a little outside the box here, and again, I have my reasons. One, the boys just talked about it, and I don’t want to even pretend to be co-opting their ideas for my own bloggy-blog purposes.
Two, I’m serious when I say that Austin and I are in a fight right now - We’re giving each other the silent treatment, we’re clattering dishes around loudly, I’m even considering playing “break-up songs” really loud on my stereo with the door closed and posting cryptic AIM away messages to make him feel badly about himself.
(Side note: Does anyone even use Away messages anymore? Hell, does anyone even use AIM anymore?)
(Even more of a side note: Anyone remember ICQ? Where you were just a number? That was crazy, right? And while I’m on the subject, what in God’s name is a “KIK” and why do people keep mentioning it? #GETOFFMYLAWN)
Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, there will be no Stunner here, even though there really should be.
Fun fact: As I did some research in preparation for writing this, I discovered something - Dean Ambrose was quite the submission specialist back in the day. Since the character of Ambrose is not very power-driven anyway, let me run quite far afield here and abandon any DDT / Cutter varieties at all with my choices.
Finisher 1 - Crossface Chicken Wing OR Rings of Saturn - take your pick
To know me is to know of my unabashed love of the great submission specialists in the world of wrestling - the William Regals, the Dean Malenkos, the Bret Harts. Since Ambrose obviously has the submission game in his pocket, let’s let him use it!
Both of these finishers are upper-body focused (as is Dean’s moveset), quite painful-looking to behold and would allow for the camera to show both Ambrose’s face and his opponents.
Honestly, just select the one you like the best. I could go either way.
Finisher 2 - Curb Stomp
Scoff if you must, but seriously, isn’t this move much more along the lines of a lunatic than an architect? If Ambrose had been doing this move since the jump, nobody would have batted an eye - in fact, I think it would make perfect sense for his character.
I can understand why some of you might have a problem with this notion, but I’m going to stick with it. To sweeten the deal, we can add the Ambrose Flippy Dippy Rope move before he does the Stomp. Maybe that’ll make it better.
One of the biggest regrets of my life (not really, but go with me here) is not coming up with my self-assessed “genius” idea in time to do it on the post-Mania NAIpod. I’ll spell it out for you here, but I promise you, the audio would have been far better.
The difference between Lesnar and Reigns could really be narrowed down to their moveset. With Brock Lesnar, he was going to literally beat you, throw you on your head and generally own your ass until you could no longer continue to compete.
Reigns, on the other hand? He’s more like a 5 year old trying to describe what he’d do as a superhero. A small written snippet of “Baby Reigns”
You see, what I’m going to do is I’m going to run at you reeeeaallll fast (after I load up my special punching gun), then I’m going to JUMP right up into the air and I’m going to hit you right in the face! Like I’m Superman! And then, when you’re going “Oh no, my face!”, I’m going to back up, I’m going to crouch down and get ready! Watch out! Then I’m going to run at you and smack you square in the tummy, you big bully! And you won’t be able to get up. P-chew! Here it comes! Right in the belly button!
Not exactly WHC material when I put it that way, is he?
It’s not that the spear isn’t bad. In fact, I’m fine with Finisher 1 being the spear. I personally think Reigns would benefit more from doing more of a Monty Brown “Pounce” than a Goldberg Spear, but whatever makes him happy.
It’s the second finisher that means more to me. Reigns has always been about power. For Heaven’s sake, he was the guy who lifted people up for the Triple Powerbomb. How does he NOT have a power finisher?
Finisher 2 - The Dominator
It’s not anything overly scientific, nor is it a Jackhammer, though I considered it. Pick the guy up and then slam him down on his face. That’s all you need to do, Roman. Use a man’s finisher, otherwise, Ron Simmons is going to have a choice word for you.
(I don’t even need to use the graphic here - You know what he’d say.)
What do YOU think? Would these finishers work for these talents? Who should be next in the series? Be Heard.