Greetings and salutations, boys and girls, and welcome to the first Rajah main page installment of the most prestigious countdown list of the year, the Rajah Forums Countdown of WWE’s Best Matches of 2014!
Now, many of you have never visited the forums that are connected to this wonderful haven of news and features before, and so you might be unfamiliar with this countdown. The idea is that at the end of the year, dozens of Rajah forum members submitted lists of the WWE matches that they thought were the best. After an exhaustive process of averaging and general mathiness, a top 25 list was composed and over the course of the next few weeks, it will be revealed one match at a time.
If you agree or disagree with the matches on this list, or just wish to give your thoughts on them in a rad place full of skateboarding dinosaurs and charming secret agents, then hop on down to the Rajah Forums, make yourself an account and join the party.
Now let’s get on with the next installment of the countdown…
When you look back at the events which led to this match, it seems almost certain that it was never meant to happen. There had been teases of a Shield split dating way back into 2013, but for one reason or another, that didn’t happen until much later on. Meanwhile, had it not been for the extraordinary Daniel Bryan story, Bray Wyatt may well have been due to face him in a rematch of their Royal Rumble bout. As a result, the two teams didn’t have anything lined up for the Elimination Chamber PPV. Happily, these six men had shown way back in November that they had a chemistry that simply could not be ignored. In Manchester, England, the crowd went absolutely bananas for their first confrontation, and the response to anything these six men did after didn’t abate through their entire feud.
And that was the beauty of this match and the build to it. There was an organic feel, a palpable excitement to see six youngsters who had been built so well go at it. We were also treated to the rare dynamic of two heel teams facing off and, while that can sometimes result in a flat match and crowd, the talent and chemistry of these men produced an electric atmosphere. The “this is awesome” chants began before all six men were even in the ring.
As you’d expect, the match starts at breakneck speed, with The Shield establishing early dominance against a backdrop of loud duelling “let’s go Wyatts/let’s go Shield” chants. As the match goes on, it has everything you’d expect. Quick offence from The Shield, vicious brawling from The Wyatts, excellent selling from Rollins and really masterful psychology from all of them. A well-built showdown between Reigns and Bray, exciting high flying from Rollins and Ambrose, and a lot of stiff work between all of them were among the early highlights.
It delivered all we expected, then it went and delivered a whole lot more on top of that. Rowan, a relative unknown at this point proved he is more than capable of hanging with the best. Harper, whose reputation was growing by the week, showed even more skill with dropkicks, compelling facial expressions, athletic moves and aggressive offence. Bray continued his run of excellent showings with vicious attacks and playing the role of leader brilliantly. Rollins was the workhorse of the match, selling the devastating offence of the three big men for long stretches before a comeback of true excitement. Ambrose epitomised the chaotic nature of the match with each takedown becoming more and more crazed as his obsession with getting his hands on Bray grew. And Reigns shone in the hot tag role he made his own throughout his run in The Shield, getting the crowd firmly on the side of his team within seconds of his introductions.
And then there was the little extra touches. The quick tags and slick offence we came to expect from The Shield was accentuated by an attack on Harper in their corner. The referee was distracted by Ambrose and with his back to the legal men, Rollins slyly pulled Harper back by the shirt when he tried to make it back to his own corner. The jaw-dropping moment when Harper attempted a belly-to-back throw from the top rope on Rollins, who landed on his feet. The moment when after a huge clothesline, instead of going for a cover, Reigns instead went to town on Rowan with more right hands – really selling the idea that these guys simply wanted to beat the hell out of each other. The moment when Ambrose broke up a Bray pin on Rollins – instead of complaining, Harper instead immediately took Ambrose out with a stiff big boot. We saw Harper dive through the ropes for the first time in this match and, not to be upstaged, Rollins performed a suicide dive less than five seconds later. This encapsulated the start of a chaotic sprint to the finish.
Reigns and Rowan collide in the ring while the other four men begin to brawl outside the ring. Ambrose and Bray head into the crowd while Rollins clears the Spanish announce table. Bray is back before long without Ambrose and when Rowan gives Reigns a big Fallaway Slam, Rollins is left three-on-one against The Wyatts. Bray gives the order and Harper and Rowan duly oblige with a huge Double Chokeslam from the English announce table through the Spanish one. Reigns is then left alone in the ring and produces a final flurry so convincing you are drawn into thinking he just might pull it off. Following a spate of huge right hands and Superman punches, Reigns looks to Spear Bray, but Harper suddenly appears to take the bullet for his master. Off the distraction, Bray hits the Sister Abigail to score the pinfall victory and end an all-time classic.
What can I say. This was a rapid-paced, stiff and exciting encounter that didn’t let up for a minute. Everything made sense, everything was executed to perfection, all six men looked like warriors and the crowd ate it all up. I could rave about every bit of this match but instead all I’ll say is go and watch/rewatch it. It’s simply fantastic.