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.
The Teacher: Alright, Doc, before we go into great detail, give me your overall thoughts on Battleground in ten words or less.
Doc Manson: Solid matches, with few surprises. I want Ambrose v. Rollins.
T: I think the vast majority of WWE fans echo your sentiments completely. Continuing to tease the Ambrose and Rollins match is causing us to salivate with anticipation. Their sequences throughout the night had a very “Attitude Era” feel to them, especially Rollins searching for Dean in the parking lot only to have him emerge from the trunk. Good stuff.
DM: This. This so much.
T: Can the best match on the card be the one that never took place? Is that even possible?
DM: I don’t even know. I was feeling pretty let down by the removal of the match from the card, but I don’t think that I can be that upset over something which gives so much.
T: We’re obviously going to see these two go for broke at SummerSlam in some sort of gimmick match. Steel cage, Last Man Standing, maybe even a chain match. I don’t care. We talked on a previous post about the slow burn and whether or not it still exists. We might not be able to call this a slow burn (more like a raging inferno), but WWE continues to build anticipation like crazy for this match.
DM: Putting on my tin foil hat for a moment, any credence to the rumors? Is Rollins hurt?
T: Hmm, you know, I didn’t think of that possibility, but it would give an explanation to why last night happened the way it did. Injury or not, Ambrose and Rollins came close to stealing the show, although they had some competition in that vein from some unlikely sources.
I went back and read your Lab Works where you gave some advice to Cesaro. In hindsight, you should have mentioned to him that he should watch out for Heath Slater. It wasn’t a 450 splash off El Torito’s shoulders, but Slater had an impressive moment last night. Thoughts?
DM: Cesaro got distracted by trying to steal the entire show with his back and forth with Kofi Kingston. He took his eyes off the prize, and it cost him. Slater got lucky. I can only wonder if this results in a rivalry destined to transcend the ages. Cesaro v. Slater starts on RAW tonight!
T: I doubt it will make a ton of history, but I have to imagine that match is happening. Not sure if continuing to beat down talent at a much lower caliber will do a whole lot for Cesaro’s standing in the WWE, but there has to be some repercussions for what happened last night.
I’ll admit, I was purely and happily entertained by the Battle Royal from start to finish. While Bo Dallas didn’t make my prediction come true, the Miz did use the strategy I suggested last week, sneakily worming his way to the IC title. Did that sit well with you, Doc?
DM: Miz gotta do what Miz gotta do. He made the situation work for him. Good thing no one in the ring was watching the Titantron, because the camera crew gave away Miz’s strategy about halfway through the match up. Regardless, Miz play it smart and safe, and walked away with the gold.
I can only wonder if the Miz and Sheamus continue to feud? If so, title unification may not yet be out of the realm of possibility.
T: While I completely oppose unifying the gold, it looks more and more likely that you’re right. I’d rather see Miz and Ziggler in a battle of the beautiful, but I don’t know if Ziggler gets that kind of push.
OK, let’s go back to the beginning. Uso’s and Wyatt’s made it hard for the rest of the card to compete. That was quite the 2 out of 3 falls match to open Battleground.
DM: A real slow opening, but again that’s just showing the brains of the competitors. They knew that they were in for a long match and had to conserve their energies. A lot of great back and forth, and the Usos really surprised me by sticking it out and retaining their titles once more.
I’m not sure where this leaves the tag division as a whole, however. The Usos have vanquished the Wyatt Family and seemingly should be looking forward to a fresh challenge, but I’m not sure what other teams exist with… well, exist at all. Ryback and Axel? Maybe?
T: Based on the response I’ve seen on Twitter, most people expect Uso’s and Wyatt’s to tangle once more at SummerSlam, perhaps in a steel cage. Because, you know, every Samoan wrestler needs to Superfly off a steel cage once in their careers.
You’re forgetting a team. Hold on, I need to take a very deep breath. Be ready to hiss.
DM: I’m drawing a complete blank here.
T: How dare you forget the names of. . . . Goldust and Stardust! The Dust Brothers!
DM: We’re just on different wavelengths. I wasn’t forgetting the Dust Brothers, I just don’t see them as being the ideal opponents for the Usos. If the Wyatts had picked up the titles, I’d be the first one suggesting that the Dust brothers be in the tag title picture.
T: Woe to the poor tag team division. Last night’s match called to mind battles between teams like Demolition and The Rockers, The Road Warriors vs. The Rock and Roll Express. You’re right, though. Outside of the Uso’s and Wyatt’s, there’s just not that much out there.
It was a bad night for the Wyatt Family all around, and Chris Jericho picked up a rather sudden victory over Bray. I’m not sure what to make of that match, Doc. What is your analysis?
DM: Jericho is simply the best in the world at what he does. Bray Wyatt underestimated Jericho. After Wyatt’s ongoing feud with Cena, I don’t think he expect Jericho to be the same caliber of performer. Wyatt didn’t bring his A-game and he paid the price.
T: Is it just me, or is SummerSlam shaping up to be Battleground: Part 2? A lot of these feuds are going to continue next month. I expect Bray and Jericho will battle once more come August 17th.
DM: Absolutely. A lot of the top level feuds seem to be spinning their tires right now.
T: Speaking of which, I doubt that’s the last we’ll see of AJ Lee and Paige in the ring. I expected Paige to snap. I was sure that Paige would snap. She even had the cocky entrance, which made it a mathematical certainty that Paige would snap. Yet there she was, walking to the back in shame, lightly clapping for AJ’s victory. There has to be more to this feud.
DM: We’ll just have to find out more tonight. I hope Paige finds some fire in her, otherwise maybe she just isn’t ready for “The Show” quite yet.
It’s just a poor build for a new talent. Sure, she came in and immediately picked up the Diva’s title, but that entire reign booked her as a weak talent and now it is clear that she only went over on AJ because Ms. Lee had an off night. Ever since Paige debuted, it seems that the overarching story is that, just like every other diva, she just can’t hang in the mix against AJ Lee. Ho-hum.
T: We’ve seen a couple of those cases (poor builds for new stars) in the last few months. I wrote about Adam Rose and Bo Dallas earlier, though I made the argument that Bo’s character had time to develop in NXT, which is why he is so successful. Adam Rose is now pre-show material, which means he’s not even on Zack Ryder’s level. That’s saying something.
Rusev and Jack Swagger happened pretty much as I expected, though a count-out victory is in no means a show of dominance for Rusev. With each new opponent, the Bulgarian continues to find more and more difficulty in defeating them. His undefeated streak is in jeopardy right now.
DM: A good, solid fight.
I’m still amazed by the current iteration of Jack Swagger. This guy is super popular right now and, in my mind, literally did zero to get where he is today. His promos are all handled by Zeb Colter. The “We the People” chant got over with the crowd, in my view, largely after Cesaro joined the group. Even the current feud, where Swagger is representing America, is only working because of the immense heat generated by Lana and Rusev. Swagger owes one hundred percent of his current success to the people around him.
T: Historically speaking, it’s not an uncommon occurrence for wrestlers to “fall into” success. One could argue that Bret Hart only became World Champion in 1992 because Ric Flair wanted to go back to WCW and Hulk Hogan was too busy being a movie star. As soon as Hogan came back at Wrestlemania IX, Bret lost to Yokozuna and then Hulk took back his title.
Lesson: Opportunity can sometimes occur by being in the right place at the right time. Let’s see if Swagger makes the most of his good fortune.
DM: Hey, how about that main event? Any surprises for you?
T: The only surprise was that there were no surprises, which sadly, wasn’t very surprising at all. One of those nights where I could have skipped the main event and not missed much of anything. Everyone had their time to shine, Cena retained his title, and I expect Brock Lesnar on my TV by 8:08 PM.
DM: You’re right. Not much to say. Plan C is going to bring the pain, and soon.
T: We’ll be back tomorrow to dissect RAW and the direction WWE points us to as we head towards SummerSlam. For Doc Manson, I’m The Teacher. Class dismissed.