AKA, The One Where The Odd Couples Learn To Get Along.
It's been a bit of a ride to get to this Raw Tag Team Title Match. It wasn't a year ago that the champs were at each other's throats. Forced together, they bonded over some frankly cheesy bickering and some back to back bar fighting. But out of the flames of that odd couple team, a truly fantastic tag team was barged. Now as solid as an Iron bar, Sheamus & Cesaro are the standard bearers in the Raw tag team ranks. A truly cool but nasty, big, powerful tag team combo that are exciting to watch and have forged a proper tag-team bond. It's fair to say I'm a fan.
Which is not something I could have said recently about Dean Ambrose or to some extent Seth Rollins. Ambrose has, in my mind, been DOA since WrestleMania 32. Coming out of The Shield he was the one I had the highest hopes for and with his US Title reign, it seemed WWE thought the same. The first mistake was the jeans and vest ring gear. I just couldn't take him seriously. Secondly, the unhinged edginess that Ambrose had displayed in The Shield, in NXT and back to his Deathmatch days as John Moxley was gone. in it's place was a sanitised, Matteled up wackiness. Talking to pot plants and gurning? No thanks. I've not cared about anything Ambrose has done in well over a year as his character simply couldn't be taken seriously so neither could he. Not even as WWE Champion.
Rollins has fared significantly better since The Shield ended. His title win at Wrestlemania 31 was a thing of beauty and his reign was very underrated as an old school heel facing and worming out of every challenge put in front of him. His injury was unfortunate in it's timing and his misjudged return as a heel set him back. People were begging to cheer for him. Since they have been allowed to with the face turn it has been an improvement but it's been up and down. Most recently he has been stuck in the momentum black hole that is Bray Wyatt, the same vortex that has previously sucked in many a promising upper-midcarder such as Rollins himself and more recently, poor Finn Balor.
But what do you do when two guys with a deep and storied history are floundering? Well, setting them up for a beloved reunion is as good a shout as any don't you think? There has always been a sense that in terms of audience affection, The Shield will always be greater than the sum of it's parts. So having a simple story of overcoming past betrayal and forging a renewed trust has gone down a storm. Just look at the reaction to the fist bump on Raw this week. It was electric and it made me instantly care more about either of them than I have in quite some time. Kudos WWE. As an aside, what a shame it is that WWE didn't change Roman Reigns' music or look following the split 3 years ago. Imagine the impact of hearing that old 'Sierra....Hotel.....' come over the PA at SummerSlam as these two come through the crowd in riot gear. Alas, it would just seem now like they are coming out in someone else's gear. Cheers Roman!
Similar to the Raw main event, this feels like it's going to be another hard hitting, intense brawl between four very skilled grapplers. Give this 20 minutes and we could have a minor classic on our hands. My money is on a feel good babyface win. The fans will love seeing these two celebrate together and Sheamus & Cesaro neither need the win or the straps to be awesome. So yeah, I am giving this one to The Shieldd 0.666 before the inevitable Ambrose betrayal just after the Royal Rumble which will likely lead to a cracking feud and a LONG overdue Ambrose heel run. Once again, kudos WWE. Kudos. Predicted Winner: Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins
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