KELLER INTERVIEWS ROB VAN DAM FOR FIRST TIME...
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WWE “THE SHIELD’S FINAL CHAPTER”
APRIL 21, 2019
STREAMED AT WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY MIKE F. MEYERS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Michael Cole, Renee Young, Corey Graves
Renee and Corey flanked Michael, both wearing denim jackets, while Michael opted for the standard suit jacket. The announce team laid out tonight’s matches, and a video package played chronicling the rise, fall, and resurrection of the Shield.
Elias was introduced in the ring under a spotlight. He strummed a blues progression on his Fender acoustic electric which was met with mild applause. Elias said he was happy that tonight was the final ride of the Shield. “At least Dean Ambrose had the good sense to realize there is no future for the Shield in WWE.”
Elias began his song:
It’s the Hounds of Justice final night, here in Moline
It’s unfortunate it’s in front of the dumpiest crowd I’ve ever seen
Moline’s a disgusting part of the world, in fact, I’d call it the armpit
And if you live here and try at life, Elias suggests you quit
This masterpiece was interrupted by Balor’s music and entrance. When Balor finally got into the ring, Elias called for the music to be cut, and asked Balor for an explanation for the interruption. Balor claimed to want to “walk with Elias,” but the declaration seemed facetious. Elias indicated that Balor would have to sing with him if he wants to walk with Elias. Elias began strumming a rudimentary Am – C – D chord progression, and repeated the lyrics, “When I say ‘I Love Elias,’ you say ‘Yes I do.’” With Balor knowing the lyrics, Elias began strumming instrumentally, but Balor thwarted the big moment by altering the lyrics to indicate that Elias, in fact, sucks. Elias erupted with anger and attacked Balor. The ref asked if Balor was okay to go, which he was, and the bell rang.
(1) ELIAS vs. FINN BALOR (C), Intercontinental Championship match
Elias worked over Balor in the corner, and Renee shouted, “Elias is feeling himself!” Elias slammed Balor’s right arm down across two of the edges of the ring and covered for a two-count. In the middle of the ring, Elias applied an arm bar. Balor struggled and got to his feet, but Elias hyper-extended Balor’s arm and knocked him back to the mat.
Elias fired Balor into the corner, shoulder first. He raised his hands to the audience, who responded with some boos. Elias repeated the prior move into another corner and covered again for a two-count. Balor reversed Elias’s hold and fired him into the corner and began a flurry of offense. Balor rolled up Elias into a pin for a two-count, but Elias kicked out and applied a Fujiwara armbar to Balor.
Balor escaped the hold and landed a two-foot stomp on Elias’s chest, then executed a loose-fitting Slingblade, but Elias leveled Balor with a clothesline, bringing all momentum to a halt. Elias set up Balor for a fisherman’s suplex, but Balor reversed into another roll-up pin and two-count. When Balor ascended to the top rope, Elias attacked the rope, causing Balor to topple down. The wrestlers did some work on the ring apron, teasing one or both of them crashing through the announce table, which was inexplicably situated right up against the edge of the ring, instead of backed up against the barricade.
Balor averted disaster by diving back into the ring over the top rope into a sunset flip for a pin for a two-count. Balor then rolled up Elias with a cradle for another pin and, this time, a three-count.
WINNER: Finn Balor by pinfall.
(Meyers’s Analysis: The ending of the match was strange. It looked like Elias thought the ending was on the sunset flip, but the ref stopped counting at two even though Elias didn’t kick out. Then Balor appeared to scramble to improvise another immediate pin, which was good for the victory. About what you’d expect for a house show title match.)
While Balor made his way up the ramp, Elias set up his stool and mic stand to resume his song. Graves said, “We are truly blessed.” Riott Squad’s music played, and the trio appeared on the stage. Morgan said they’d love it if they could sing along. “Usually, we’re called the Riott Squad. But tonight, we were thinking… Could we be the Elias squad?” Elias was pleased with this flirtation.
Elias resumed the “We Love Elias” song from earlier, but once again, the lyrics were hijacked and changed to “We love the Riott Squad.” There was general confusion until Bayley’s music played. Once Bayley got near the ring, she turned back toward the stage, and Ember Moon’s music played.
(2) RUBY RIOTT & SARAH LOGAN (w/Liv Morgan) vs. BAYLEY & EMBER MOON
Bayley started off against Logan. Bayley knocked Logan down with a shoulder block, then Logan took Bayley down to the mat and applied an arm bar. Bayley quickly escaped and reversed the arm bar over the middle rope. Bayley dodged an attack by Morgan from ringside, but the distraction allowed the Squad to briefly get the upper hand as Riott tagged in and pounded Bayley in their corner. Bayley slipped away from the attack and tagged in Moon, which stopped Riott in her tracks.
Riott psyched herself up and charged at Moon, but Moon side stepped and tripped Riott and rolled her into a pin and two-count. Logan tagged back in and Moon reversed a hip-toss attempt into an arm-drag takedown of her own. Logan rolled out to ringside, and Bayley tagged back in. Bayley hopped down to the floor and ran around one corner and delivered a sliding drop kick under the bottom corner ropes into Logan.
Back in the ring, Bayley was the victim of an illicit double team attack involving Morgan, but kicked out of a pin attempt by Logan. Riott tagged back in and applied a chinlock to Bayley in the middle of the ring. Bayley, utilizing the power of leverage, tossed Riott off of her and across the ring. Moon was hungry to tag back in but Bayley was in the wrong part of town and found herself leveled by a Riott reverse elbow. Riott covered for a two-count.
Logan tagged in and Bayley quickly escaped from a submission hold as the announce team described Logan as being the powerhouse of her team. Bayley fired Logan into a turnbuckle and it was time for a dual hot tag – Logan succeeded, but Riott sprinted across the ring to knock Moon off the apron, leaving Bayley vulnerable in the ring.
Riott stalked slowly around Bayley, savoring the upper hand. Bayley exhibited cunning and moxie by landing three right crosses before crawling quickly between Riott’s legs toward her corner to tag in Moon.
Moon began a flurry of offense involving kicks and an enzuigiri. She executed a springboard cross body lateral press onto Riott for a pin and two-count. Riott smashed Moon with an elbow to the face, then covered for a pin. She maneuvered her feet up onto the middle rope for pinning leverage, and Morgan grabbed her feet for added protection, but the ref was alert and stopped his count. Justice would further be served by the elimination of Morgan from the ringside area. While Riott lamented this dismissal, Moon had scaled the top rope and launched into the Eclipse against Riott, which was good for the three-count.
WINNERS: Bayley & Ember Moon by pinfall.
(Meyers’s Analysis: A decent tag match with a clearly defined face / heel dynamic. The removal of Morgan was too compressed against the finish. The fans had little chance to react to the match becoming a fair contest.)
A standard Shield promo started – backstage with a handheld cam. Ambrose was the last to speak, “Believe in the Shield.”
McIntyre, Lashley, and Corbin each got full, individual entrances. Corbin coerced the ring announcer to list his accomplishments, then took the mic. “Kurt Angle’s final chapter was losing to me. And tonight, the Shield will get the exact same privilege.” Lashley then chimed in, saying the Shield would be lucky to limp out with an ounce of dignity after tonight’s beat down. Then it was McIntyre’s turn. “After we maul, beat, brutalize, and humiliate the Shield, we will be the new dominant force in WWE. Bring them out here!”
The Shield’s music (read: Reigns’s music) played, and the trio appeared at the top of the steps from the concourse and made their way toward the ring through the crowd. Michael reiterated that Ambrose has chosen not to re-sign with WWE. He added that Rollins is wearing the same vest from when the Shield debuted at Survivor Series 2012.
The teams lined up in the ring opposite one another. A brief “Shield!” chant started, and was quickly replaced with a “Burn it down!” chant.
(3) DREW MCINTYRE & BOBBY LASHLEY & BARON CORBIN vs. THE SHIELD (Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose)
Rollins started for the Shield against Corbin. Corbin got booed for mocking the Rollins stomp. Rollins blasted Corbin with a high-velocity drop kick, then tagged in Ambrose in, or “the Lunatic Fringe,” as Michael likes to call him. Ambrose lit up Corbin with a series of punches – Corbin bailed out and tagged in Lashley. The Shield responded by tagging in Reigns, and the counter-response was for McIntyre to tag in. Reigns and McIntyre squared off, and Reigns planted McIntyre to the canvas with a Samoan drop. Ambrose tagged in but was soon knocked outside of the ring and attacked by all three of his opponents.
Lashley tagged in and continued the beat down of Dean in a corner. Lashley fired Ambrose out to ringside, allowing for more nefarious acts to commence against Ambrose behind the ref’s back. Corbin tagged in and Ambrose took him down and laid in a figure-four leg lock, but McIntyre broke the hold up before tagging in to become the legal man.
Ambrose reversed a suplex attempt by McIntyre into a suplex of his own, but was unable to tag out as Lashley tagged in and scrambled across the ring to block. While Ambrose was being illegally roughed up for a third time outside of the ring, Reigns acquired a folding chair and set out toward the action. This caused Corbin and McIntyre to relinquish Ambrose back into the ring. McIntyre tagged in and was neutralized by a neck breaker by Ambrose. Ambrose was finally able to tag out, allowing Rollins to run roughshod over Corbin, who had just tagged in. Rollins, however, preoccupied himself momentarily with McIntyre, giving Corbin the opportunity to strike him from behind.
Lashley tagged in, and together with Corbin set up for a double superplex, but Rollins fought off both opponents before landing a high cross body against Corbin. Rollins rolled through the maneuver toward his corner and tagged in Reigns. Reigns knocked Corbin off the apron with the Superman punch, then knocked Lashley to the canvas with a Superman punch. With Lashley stunned, Reigns dived and tagged in the eager Ambrose, who scaled the top rope and hit Lashley with a flying clothesline and pin, but McIntyre slid in and broke up the count.
McIntyre mounted Ambrose and laid in seven right hands to his skull, prompting Renee, Dean’s wife, to say, “The aggression of Drew McIntyre coming to the surface!” – something no one would ever say while witnessing their partner being pummeled into oblivion.
Rollins bailed out Ambrose from being double teamed, and the Shield proceeded into their cascade of finishers. The death knell rang for Corbin, the recipient of the Shield Bomb, which was good for Rollins to cover and pin for the victory.
WINNERS: The Shield by pinfall.
The Shield’s music cut out, and a “Thank you, Ambrose!” chant eventually resounded through the arena. Ambrose went out of his way to sell injuries from the match and slowly got to his feet in the corner. A “Please don’t go!” chant materialized. Rollins, with some nice improvisation, asked the audience, “Don’t you think we tried that one already?”
Rollins addressed the crowd, the quad cities, his home territory. He said that his current title reign wouldn’t have been possible without his brotherhood, the Shield, then embraced Reigns and Ambrose. A “Thank you, Shield!” chant emerged. Ambrose took the mic and said some rare uplifting, encouraging words, with a tinge of Steve Austin mixed in at the end. The trio put their fists together once more, and Reigns’s music played.
(Meyers’s Analysis: A standard frenetic six-man house show match where all six guys got their stuff in. The biggest sigh of relief came when Ambrose was allowed to have the final say in this farewell show – Reigns and Rollins were just along for the ride. Ambrose showed more flare and panache in his brief speech than we’ve seen in a long time, and it was a harbinger of whatever endeavor he takes on next.)