Kane was reborn in 2012. Daniel Bryan cemented himself as a main eventer. Ryback burst onto the scene with an impressive “rookie” year. But The Shield. My goodness, The Shield.
When Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins interfered in the WWE Championship match at Survivor Series, I was part excited, part confused. I was pleasantly surprised that two of my favorite WWE developmental talents - oh, and Roman Reigns - debuted in such an impactful, prominent fashion. But the breathless nature of this debut - Michael Cole spent most of it explaining that, yes, WWE had a developmental division called NXT, and yes, these three men were in fact wrestlers in that division - made the whole segment quite a mind trip.
At the very least, WWE succeeded on the follow-up. The Shield continued to ambush a seemingly random collection of WWE stars in increasingly exciting segments and defended it in interviews as their brand of justice. Were they working for CM Punk? “Nope."
Finally, with Punk in need of surgery, The Shield were thrust into their first WWE match, a six-man TLC tag against Ryback, Daniel Bryan and Kane. Again, it was exciting but a tad off-putting at the same time. Yes, it was cool that the three young talents would get a chance to face three of WWE’s top stars, but would they find their run buried before it even had a chance to gain steam?
Fortunately, almost surprisingly, WWE again succeeded on the follow-through, something it has rarely done in recent years. The Shield vs Daniel Bryan, Kane and Ryback was one of the ”Best Wrestling Matches of 2012,“ and if you ask some people, it was the flat-out leader in that category.
The Shield brought an energy and tireless tenacity that cemented them as serious top-level heels - they kept taking punishment, but damn it if they didn’t dish it out as well.
Their chaotic but methodical form of dissection - dividing and conquering each of their three opponents one at a time - positioned them as a smart and dangerous threat. This was defined appropriately when Michael Cole screamed "There’s just too many of them!”, followed by JBL explaining that, no, it was in fact a three-on-three match. The Shield was just that good.
Even with Seth Rollins taking a dangerous dive through a stack of tables - or perhaps because of it - The Shield walked out of TLC looking like three guys who walked through hell and didn’t just survive, but thrived. It was an intense, star-making contest that demonstrated how tough each of the six men were, and put The Shield on the map as a force to be reckoned with into 2013.
So what do you think? Was The Shield vs Kane, Daniel Bryan and Ryback one of the Best Wrestling Matches of 2012? Is there something out there that was better? Leave your comments, questions or suggestions here.