I felt sick to my stomach after my body regained feeling from becoming numb from shock. When Seth Rollins swung that chair into the back of Roman Reigns and then repeatedly to a stunned Dean Ambrose, guys that were practically his brothers, it felt as if by some strange voodoo that those chair shots were striking me down as well.
This couldn’t be real life, could it? No you idiot, of course not; it’s professional wrestling: a scripted show where good guys decide to throw morality out the window at the drop of a dime just as often as baddies see the light when you least expect it. But this one…this one hurt me down to my very soul.
Out of all the people I know, no one loved The Shield more than I did. Sure, I definitely knew some people that were even more excited about Rollins’ work as Tyler Black on the independent scene. Same goes for Ambrose as Jon Moxley. And…alright, I don’t think anyone really saw Roman Reigns coming. But the moment these guys burst onto the main roster as a trio, I became as big a mark for the group as it gets. I found that in this day and age of being an adult wrestling fan in the internet era, where we all know way too much, they became the first entity in the industry that I truly cared for on a kayfabe level in well over a decade. Sure, I love(d) CM Punk so much that he ultimately cracked my Mount Rushmore of all-time favorite performers, but even with him, my adulation was seemingly as much about how he was changing the company from a real life standpoint as it was for his role on air.
But The Shield made me feel like a kid again. They made me root for them to win every match, whether it made booking sense or not, because that’s the way you’re supposed to blindly support something that you love. You cheer for the guys you like, not for the writing team to get it right. As adults, we lose sight of that fact, and I so very much loved that The Shield made me remember what that feeling was all about.
The “Hounds of Justice” made a lot of noise and turned a lot of heads in the year and a half that they were around (which is an eternity in modern wrestling years), but just like everything else the business, at some point, it all had to come to an end.
Of the three members of the team, they were all great in their own way, but Seth Rollins was my guy from the beginning. And over the course of time, while The Shield was going from good, to great, to amazing, to arguably the greatest faction in the history of the business, Rollins surpassed everyone on the roster from a personal level and eventually became my pick for favorite overall, even ahead of Daniel Bryan during his historic rise to claim the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
So it would seem only fitting that when it came time for The Chair Shot Heard Around The World, of course Rollins was the one to deliver it and break the group up. This all, naturally, in the face of the fact that Ambrose or Reigns would have been much more obvious and rightful choices to be turncoats for their own reasons, and that Rollins was not only the least likely of the three, but damn near a non-factor in the discussion.
I actually did not get to see it until the next day, as I turned off Raw with an hour left to go and attempted to avoid spoilers all throughout the next day, although plenty of hints were out there that I knew something was up. (To hear the story of my day trying to piece together what exactly happened on Raw for the hours before I was able to watch, knowing full well something huge did go down, and most likely with The Shield, skip to the 7:30 mark of this past week’s episode of Doing the Job.) What my eyes saw when I finally got to witness that moment was something I was not ready for or willing to accept.
I couldn’t grasp it. I can’t grasp it. Despite Jim Ross no longer being in the company, I still can’t help but hear his voice in my head screaming, “Why Rollins?! For the love of God, tell me why!!” I felt so sick and betrayed by this act of fiction that I could not even stomach a real dinner that night, resorting to sadly eating brownies in order to merely comfort myself. It was bad enough that the group had to break up, but again, that was going to happen at some point anyway. But if that was going to happen, Rollins was the most obvious choice to remain good so as to get revenge, acting vengeance with exciting offense that the crowd could totally get behind. He was supposed to thwart off the evil, not be the one to embrace it. I’m not going to go all Star Wars, “You were the chosen one!!” here, but he would have been a main ingredient in the revenge being so sweet.
And now? I’m still wearing those childlike goggles in all of this, trying to figure out how I should proceed with my fandom. Seth Rollins is my favorite guy, but can I really back him after he broke up my favorite group and tore my heart out of my chest? Those are questions you ask yourself as a kid, not an all-knowing adult. To be honest, that’s what is sort of great about this. I’m someone that naturally enjoys heels over faces; when CM Punk switches alignment I not only had no issue with the move, I reveled in it.
But if you love something in pro wrestling as much as I loved The Shield, and you don’t feel this way anymore, emotionally torn and pained over a heinous action that your favorite good guy committed, then quite honestly, you shouldn’t be watching; the magic is gone.
As I reflect and go through the 12 steps of recovery from that tragic Monday Night, I feel like that is the light that shines through from this whole thing. After all these years and so many (non-intentionally) dreadful moments that have been endured, The Shield and a Seth Rollins betrayal has found a way, even in the face of disaster, to illustrate that there is a magic to all of this that is still possible no matter how old you get.
That is why I always have and always will believe in The Shield, and will never hesitate to display the Symbol of Excellence with someone that feels the same. Thank you Shield, for providing some of the fondest times I’ve ever had as a fan of this business, and for putting a smile on my face a mile wide every time you were featured. Extreme Rules 2014 will forever be on my short list of favorite moments, captured on camera by Denny Lugz as proof of the children’s butterflies we all are supposed to get every so often. Believe that.
(P.S. from author: But seriously, Rollins, how could you?!?!)