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[2014-05-04-WWE-Extreme Rules] HHH & Batista & Randy Orton vs Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins

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Good trios match but not the classic that many classify it as being. Batista was great wearing red to stand out from his partners, showing that deep down he only cares about his own direction. Nice Air Jordans he has on too.

They brawl early to the crowd's delight, with Rollins playing the FIP as usual during the Shield's babyface run. After several pretty good minutes of getting the hot on him, he gets a hot tag to Ambrose, who also plays the FIP in another pretty good segment. After Ambrose has been put through pain by Evolution, HHH gloats and mocks the Shield, but Ambrose manages to hit a DDT to give Reigns a hot tag.

This would lead to the third and final act of the match, which had plenty of brawling and finishers galore. HHH evaded a tope move from Rollins, who crashed head and shoulder-first in the barricade. HHH evaded a Superman Punch in the ring and hit Reigns with Pedigree, then placed Batista on him. Reigns kicked out, grooming him for his obvious future. But because this company still had a clue, an Ace Crusher on Reigns by Orton wasn't kicked out of, by had its pinfall attempt saved by the recovered Rollins. See what happens when someone isn't shoved down the audience's throat?

The brawling outside pitting Ambrose & Rollins vs. HHH & Orton is great stuff that pops the crowd, ending with a climatic splash from Rollins from the top of a seating entrance. It was adrenaline-rushing shit. But this is where I ran into a problem with the match, as the ref just let Batista and Reigns lay around WHILE HE HIMSELF STAYED IN THE RING, instead focusing too much on the brawling that was happening almost a football field away from him. That's bad officiating and was my lone nitpick in The Shield's jaw-dropping work of art against The Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber 2014.

But unlike that instant classic, this match lacked a truly electric crowd that was giddy before the bell even ringing. This match actually summarized this direction quite well: it was good, but not one that audiences felt a NEED to see unlike Shield vs. Wyatts a few months earlier. When the brawling ended with that Rollins splash, the cameras' focus went back to the ring, and now all of a sudden Batista and Reigns regain consciousness. There's no super finishing stretch that we had been accustomed to in Shield matches. Instead, after one spear, Reigns gets the pin on Batista. It resulted in a good trios match, but not a total show-stealer that'll leave the crowd with memories etched in their minds for years to come. ***1/2

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Hot opening lead into an exciting series of heat segments where Evolution use some basic heel tag tactics to try and ground the energetic and powerful youngsters. Shield had only just started veering towards being babyface but they do it well

Rollins plays a fun FIP and Ambrose as a manic hot tag are an interesting way to open the match and you feel real sympathy and heat watching Evolution pick them apart. Triple H and Orton's worst habits are hidden by the tag format and Batista with a decent feather in his cap putting in another great performance for his comeback and keeping up with the young kids. Once things start breaking down, we see Reigns as a fantastic hot tag. Get some superfluous crowd brawling but it pays off with a great spot. Great stuff all around from all involved.

 

****1/4

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The Shield vs Evolution - WWE Extreme Rules 2014

I really do miss The Shield. Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns were just so much better as a package deal. All three members of the Shield came out looking like a million bucks in this. Rollins used to have such a great working punch, what the hell happened. I loved the use of a Rollins dive early to perk up the crowd. Ambrose has just been on fire in these matches. He wrestles with such a great urgency that it is irresistible. I know others have talked up his face in peril work, but really shined here. You can feel the anguish, but he was always fighting through it, always looking for that opening. Reigns is just perfect in those short hot tag bursts. Evolution were perfectly capable in their roles and each took turns showing a vicious side, but none of them could sustain high level of urgency like the Wyatts. The match overall resembled more closely a standard WWE tag match than a normal Shield match. It was a little too neat at time. Bless Dean Ambrose, he did his best to keep people on their toes, but overall it felt more normal. It was the best possible normal WWE tag match, but we did not get to see that typical havoc offense that Shield usually employs.

The high point before the big finish run was without a doubt the Dean Ambrose segment. From the get go, he burst into the ring and swarmed Orton. He was hitting anything that moves and was going to apply a figure-4. Reigns tried to take advantage of the chaos, but speared the ringsteps. A good example of how this was standard WWE was that Ambrose was forced to sell a weak submission breakup  for a considerable length of time so not to upstage Reigns. Typically, Ambrose would keep it moving and wait for the big move to start selling, but because of a misstep in the layout he was forced into WWE box rather than doing the organic thing. Ambrose rocked the face in peril segment. I loved HHH's punch combinations in the corner and how Ambrose was throwing wild swings like Terry Funk. Ambrose staggering into a spinebuster was awesome. Back drop on the Pedigree and a DDT afford Ambrose to tag out. Again, transitions like that just lack creativity and I think Shield is better than that frankly. 
 
The finish stretch is very exciting. Reigns rocks the hot tag as he usually does. Once the chaos kicks in, The Shield is really in the element. I am talking Rollins flying into TV screen from out of nowhere only to crash and burn or Ambrose jumping across two announce tables to swarm HHH and Orton. They actually cover pretty well for Batista and Reigns needing to sell for considerable amount of time while they arena brawled. Reigns took an RKO and Pedigree while Batista took the Triple Powerbomb. I am not thrilled about guys lying around and then popping up magically once Rollins hits his big dive. They at least tried to cover for it. Reigns and Batista work a short, fun sequence with a great Superman Punch and then Reigns channels the Ultimate Warrior's Gods to hit his spear. The Spear and Superman Punch should be his big transition moves. The powerbomb should be his finisher.

Straight up, I thought Evolution slowed Shield down a touch and limited them. I am not calling for a street fight or anything. Rather a return to that full court press and making everybody earn their offense. Also, I did not sense an overarching story. The transitions to the two face in peril segments did not really weave a story. One started by a HHH clothesline on Rollins and the other because someone broke up an Ambrose figure-4. The Shield really did not make any mistakes. Evolution did not really cheat. It is not like Evolution really leveraged their experience advantage. The Shield won because once the match broke down that where they are dangerous, but that was just the last quarter. Ambrose and Reigns gave stellar performances and Rollins was able to shine in his big spots. I would say Evolution's performance was too safe to take this to the next level. I would say this is the best possible version of WWE's sterile style, but they need to either add more hate or a story to take it to the next level. ****

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