By Troy Provost-Heron (@Troy_Provost)
It’s still one of the most memorable betrayals I’ve seen in the WWE Universe.
Back in 2014, I was fully re-immersed in the WWE after forgetting it had even existed for several years. In the year or so since I had returned to watching the shows, my admiration for The Shield — the faction consisting of Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins — had grown steadily. Their entrance music was awesome, the way they walked to the ring through the stands was unique and their dominance in the ring was entertaining. Most importantly, though, every week you watched each of them get better and better.
But on the June 2, 2014 edition of Monday Night RAW, Rollins turned his back on his brothers by burying a steel chair into the back of Reigns. Rightfully, it’s the moment that is shown over and over again whenever talks of the former faction come up on WWE programming. But to me, it was the beat down that Ambrose took at the hands of Rollins and that chair that stood out. It was vicious, even painful to watch.
In the years since, that assault had all but been forgotten, but it still raced through my mind from time to time. On Sunday, it finally came full circle. In a matter of five minutes, all three members of The Shield had held the title.
When Ambrose cashed in the Money in the Bank contract (won just an hour prior in the ladder match against the likes of Alberto Del Rio, Cesaro, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Chris Jericho), nailed Rollins with a Dirty Deeds and claimed his first WWE World Heavyweight championship, he ascended to the same heights already achieved by his former brothers.
In the aftermath, I realize WWE crafted a perfect two-year journey. Maybe it wasn’t even on purpose, but nonetheless, it was flawless.
That assault back in 2014 was ruthless. For every time Reigns got hit with that steel chair, Ambrose got blasted 10 times, and in the end he was the recipient of a curb stomp onto the chair.
Afterwards, Ambrose was cast aside, losing his next four pay-per-view matches before claiming the Intercontinental Championship, a mere pittance compared to the meteoric rise Reigns and Rollins were on.
Rollins aligned with The Authority and won the Money in the Bank contract. Reigns won the 2015 Royale Rumble and earned his spot in the main event of Wrestlemania 31 against Brock Lesnar. On that night, Rollins cashed in his contract and became WWE World Heavyweight champion in one of the greatest Wrestlemania moments of all-time.
After a 220-day reign as champion, Rollins blew out his knee and, ultimately, Reigns claimed the belt. It’s around this time, though, where Ambrose really came into his own.
Rollins is arrogant and magnetizing while Reigns is powerful and polarizing, but in some ways Ambrose is the most fun to watch. Everything he does is quirky and different. The Mick Foley of this generation, Ambrose is whimsical on the microphone and wrestles like he’s filling out a Mad Lib; everything seems erratic and spontaneous. The evolution of his character over the last year has been a highlight of the WWE.
Ambrose’s recent feud with Chris Jericho brought out the best in him, and a few months ago I had a feeling that things were starting to change for The Lunatic Fringe, but I never thought he would become champion this fast.
In a way, Ambrose standing on top of that barricade, raising the championship above his head Sunday was poetic justice.
Here was a superstar who was every bit the figure as the two men flanking him at one point, and yet, in one fleeting moment he was left behind and forced to climb, while Rollins and Reigns took an elevator to the highest level of WWE.
Now, Ambrose has joined them atop the summit.
The brotherhood may be dead, but The Shield owns the yard once again.